weekend free-for-all — September 30 – October 1, 2017

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: Sourdough, by Robin Sloan. This is by the author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, which is also excellent. This one has a very unusual sourdough starter, robots, and culinary intrigue.

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

{ 1,228 comments… read them below }

  1. Cambridge Comma*

    I’m married to a Catalan, so this weekend is going to be all about watching the news and wishing we could be there (and hoping the police don’t hurt anybody). At the school my nephews go to, they have come up with a program of school activities so the building is never empty between Friday and Sunday, in the hope that they can vote, because however people want to vote, 70% want to be allowed to.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        I wasn’t going to get into politics but as others already have, yes, she and her whole family do.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      It’s crazy in Spain at the moment. I’m in the North and there are Spanish flags flying everywhere to support unity right now. Everyone I speak to here is hoping that the vote 1. doesn’t happen and 2. is a resounding no. Tensions are a little high here at the moment.

      1. BarceloNO*

        In Catalonia, flags are flying to support the vote. What kind of government bans VOTING? Part of the army is here and things are very tense. I just hope, like OP, that the police don’t hurt anybody.

        1. JamieS*

          If the vote is for an area of a country to become its own country I think many countries would ban that vote or at least attempt to. I can’t think of any who wouldn’t but I don’t know every country on Earth.

          What I’m wondering is what happens if Catalonia votes for independence and the Spanish government doesn’t accept it? Go to war with each other?

          1. Cambridge Comma*

            If you look on Wikipedia at the list of countries that have become independent through a referendum (and the countries that allowed them to vote), it’s fairly long. Self-determination is pretty much the cornerstone of international law.

            1. JamieS*

              I should have been more clear although this post probably won’t be any clearer. I meant areas that are part of the country itself not areas under it’s authority but not part of the country itself. For example, Bermuda is a UK territory/colony but it’s not considered to be part of the UK.

          2. Democracy is good*

            You’re wrong – many countries have allowed votes; I live in one.

            The UK has had several peaceful referendums related to independence: Northern Ireland voted for devolution (local regional parliaments), as did Wales and Scotland, and Scotland had an independence referendum. Leaving aside the longstanding Troubles in NI, they were all peaceful votes; and in fact the NI devolution was part of the peace process that got various terrorist groups to lay down their arms and set up a ceasefire.

            “what happens if Catalonia votes for independence and the Spanish government doesn’t accept it? Go to war with each other?” Probably not; it’s more likely to go to court as a human rights argument of some kind. But there are several armed terrorist groups advocating for regional independence from Spain, so terrorist attacks might increase if the Spanish government tries to crack down.

            I mean, Spain was a police-state dictatorship in living memory with that whole ugly history of journalists and political opponents just disappearing and turning up dead, and ordinary people being jailed for the most stupid trumped-up things, attacked and executed. So however people want the vote to go, they do not react well to police and the army out on the streets trying to stop ordinary citizens from peacefully exercising basic human rights.

          3. Wasabi*

            Look at the UK and Scottish governments in 2014, if you want an example of how it SHOULD work. The independence referendum was democratically negotiated, fair throughout the voting process – although BBC ‘impartial’ media coverage was iffy, IMHO – and almost entirely free of violence. (The small amount of violence that *did* happen was after the result, and initiated by right-wing ultra-British nationalist groups wanting to rub people’s faces in it.)

            (And in the interests of transparency, I was on the losing side, so I wouldn’t exactly be inclined to be complimentary of the UK Government where it isn’t merited.)

    2. Gaia*

      I feel like I don’t really understand what is happening. I’ve read a few articles but I can’t find a clear answer. Would you mind giving any background or directing me to a resource?

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        The very basics of the situation is as follows:

        1. The region of Catalonia (of which Barcelona is a part) feels that the central government in Madrid has been taking unfair advantage of its economic success in recent years – it weathered the 2008 crash and the subsequent problems better than the rest of Spain. Catalonia argues that it should be in control of the revenue that it generates instead of paying the highest amount of regional tax in Spain to the government.

        2. Catalonia is a distinct region. It has its own language (Catalan) and culture that is different to Spain. They are arguing that their culture and language is disparate enough from Spanish language and culture that they can constitute a unique country on their own.

        – I need to point out here that Catalonia isn’t unique in this. Many regions in Spain have a unique language and culture – Valencia (speaks Valenciano), Asturias (speaks Asturiano), Galicia (speaks Gallego), and, of course, the Basque Country (speaks Basque). Each of these regions were brought together under the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel and Fernando, in the 1400s. In the 20th century, Franco further cemented the unification by banning teaching and public services in regional languages, which many have seen as an attack on regional culture.

        3. Much of the recent surge towards an independence movement has been stoked by the Scottish referendum, Brexit, immigration concerns in Europe, and the economic recession that has hit, and is still hitting, Spain very hard.

        The current situation is a little more difficult. Carles Puigdemont (the Catalan leader), has technically broken the law under the Spanish Constitution by calling for a referendum. A referendum has to be enacted by the central government. The reason why Mariano Rajoy has spoken about arresting Puigdemont and putting police on the street to prevent voting is because the government does not recognise this vote as legal and/or binding. They view it as an act of civil disobedience, which is where we are at the moment with the worry about what is going to happen tomorrow.

        1. Gaia*

          Okay, one more clarifying question. When they say they pay the highest amount in regional taxes is that the highest amount in Euros or the highest percentage? Like are they taxed at a higher rate or they are more economically successful so they pay the same rate but it amounts to more tax revenue.

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            They pay the highest amount in euros.

            Each year they pay about 10 billion euros more to Madrid than they get back. In comparison, Andalusia (the poorest region in Spain) gets back 8 million euros more than the put in.

            A lot of sentiment behind the anger that’s driving the independence movement is the feeling that the citizens of Catalonia are funding the ‘poor and lazy’ of Spain and they’ve had enough.

            Andalusians are, unfortunately, the butt of many jokes in Spain that are focused on work ethics, laziness, and the usual stereotypes that come with the unemployed.

            I’m glad you’ve found it helpful. I’m lucky because I’m on the ground here and I’ve been able to watch it unfold but it does get confusing from the outside.

            1. Gaia*

              Yea all I could really find is “SPAIN IS BANNING A VOTE!!!” which seemed…weird. I don’t know if I think it is great that they can’t vote, but I’m not there and it really isn’t my place to say.

              We definitely have places here that pay more in taxes than they get back. I tend to be pretty liberal so I think that is just how civilized society should behave. But, whatever happens, I hope it is peaceful and that everyone who wants to be heard is heard.

              1. Cambridge Comma*

                That is how society behaves, but in other countries what is given back appears more equitable. However, my imoression from watching TV in Catalan is that this isn’t the driving factor.

        2. Anon this time*

          This may be me showing my ignorance in these sort of things but surely the best way to deal with it would have been for the goverment to clearly say ‘it’s not a legal referendum, nothing will happen with the result, regardless of what it is, but if you really want to waste time and resources doing it, go for it.’? Rather than sending in lots of police and other shows of force.

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            They did. Catalonia ignored them.

            Puigdemont believes that if he gets a resounding victory then Rajoy will have to concede to the referendum, illegal or not.

            Admittedly (in my opinion) Rajoy did make things worse by calling in the Guardia Civil et al. to “monitor” the situation. It smacks of Franco-era operation and despite nearly fifty years passing since Franco’s death and Spain’s move to democracy, Spain is very sensitive to anything that smacks of his style of leadership. This whole situation is bringing up the normally silent, ugly underbelly of Spain that the Spanish prefer to keep hidden.

        3. Cambridge Comma*

          Foreign Octopus sets out the Spanish point of view, but definitely at the reasonable end of the spectrum. I am obviously biased in the other direction. I’m sure others can find overviews on-line that attempt to offer both sides.
          I would just like to add a couple of points:
          – Catalans don’t just claim to have their own language; It’s closer to Italian and Portuguese than Spanish. However, language isn’t a grounds for statehood; the world has many more languages than states. It’s the discrimination against the language by the government and attempts to stop its use in schools that is behind the wish to protect the language through independence.
          – There is a lot of long term hostility towards Catalans from the rest of Spain. People boycott products from that region. After the terrorist attacks, Spanish people wrote on social media things like ‘ Luckily no humans died, only Catalans’. Of course, tweets by a minority of people don’t represent all Spanish people, but they have a disproportionate impact when publicized. As police drove towards Catalonia from other parts of Spain this week, Spanish people cheered them on, saying ‘A por ellos’ (go and get them) — in stark contrast to the peacefulness of the demonstrations in Catalonia.
          The impression is that Spanish people do not want them as part of their country, so why should they stay? A positive approach from the rest of Spain (like some of the campaigning in the Scottish referendum) could have made a difference.
          – Catalonia campaigned to house more refugees than they were allocated, but Spain didn’t allow it. There were demonstrations in favour of refugees. Fear of refugees isn’t the factor here that it is in other parts of Europe.
          – This isn’t comparable with Brexit. All that Brexit has done is reduce the fear of the ‘yes’ voters of being, at least temporarily, outside the EU, because the EU is changing.

          1. Gaia*

            I wonder, did the animosity towards Catalan begin before or after the push for independence?

            I’m trying to think of it in comparison to situations I am more familiar with. We occasionally get places here that make a fuss about leaving the union. It will never happen and everyone knows this it is just drama-making to distract the proles. But what I have noticed is that the majority of the rest of the country pretty quickly turns their back on the part that is claiming they want to leave and it tends to die down once the succession claims quiet down.

            If that isn’t a similar situation, do you know what brought about the animosity towards Catalonia?

            1. Jessica*

              I’m not an expert (I wish I had been following this story more closely, in fact!) but I did live in Madrid for two years. Madrid and Barcelona have been rivals for many many years. They’re really the two largest cities in Spain, and compete a lot for tourism, industry, etc. At its most benign, there’s sort of a Boston-New York style antagonism.
              But there are also deeper reasons for the divide. Catalonia was one of the last regions to fall to Franco, and it’s generally been more left-wing than central Spain. This is probably a silly example, but Catalonia has outlawed bull-fighting, while it’s still super popular in Andalucia and Madrid.
              So to continue my American example, if you took that Boston-New York rivalry but made one of them be in a red state (Madrid/the Spanish gov’t is certainly not anything close to right-wing according to US politics, but certainly further right than Catalonia in general), added in the memory of a massive war which placed them on opposite sides for most of it, and then made one economically stable while the other suffered economic crisis…you’d be roughly close to the Madrid-Barcelona relationship.

              Like Foreign Octopus pointed out, many of Spain’s regions have their own language and culture, so I think part of what the federal gov’t is worried about is where this will stop. They managed to hold onto Basque territory despite violent resistance (terrorism) but if Catalonia goes, it seems like the Basques might also, and then would Galicia or Valencia go too?

        4. AA*


          The problem is also that for the last 30 years, all central governments have systematically yielded to the Nationalist parties in order to get parliamentary support. In the case of Catalonia, this has led to a systematic disregard for the law when it comes to education, with the result that generations of schoolchildren have been taught a version of history in which the Spanish Civil War was a war between Francoist Spain and independent Catalonia, Catalonia supports the lazy Estremadurans and Andalusians, and Spain “steals” from Catalonia (Espanya ens roba). In reality, Catalonia has one of the highest degrees of political, cultural, and linguistic independence within a country, if not the highest, in the Western world. The rest of Spain is, understandably, fairly fed up. Having legitimate claims is one thing, unfairly demonising other people (particularly in a country that ranked pretty high in the Economist democracy index (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index#Democracy_Index_by_country_.282016.29)) is something else entirely.

          What is being claimed now is that Spain has an oppressive, almost dictatorial government which is quelling Catalonians’ right to vote. The Catalan government ignored the regulations of its own Parliament (the Catalan parliament), not allowing members of the opposition parties to propose amendments to the referendum law and cutting the meeting short, which is illegal. The reformed Estatut which led to this law was voted with a participation of less than 50% (with 75% voting yes. Which is 37.5% of the total population).

          The point is not whether a referendum should be held or not. The point is that the conditions in which it is being held are profoundly antidemocratic and non-transparent.

          1. Gaia*

            I don’t know that I have enough of the facts to have an opinion on whether or not there should have been a vote. I do know, however, that the video on the news is horrifying. Even if what they were doing was illegal, was it necessary to act with such force when their crime was voting on something that has no legal basis?

    3. Belle di Vedremo*

      It sounds like this has been a very painful day in Catalonia; please know that many of us are thinking about and/or praying for everyone there. May this lead to be better days.

  2. Ramona Flowers*

    I am off to a swishing (clothes swapping) event with a couple of friends and am hoping to find some cool stuff. What’s everyone else up to?

    1. Caledonia*

      Waiting for a delivery :( it’s their 3rd attempt so it will get sent back and I would quite like my boxes.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Oh no I hate that! I tend to leave a post it on my front door saying I’m in if I have to risk going to the loo…

        1. caledonia*

          I have a door knocker not a bell and I can’t get them delivered to work because I wouldn’t be able to get them home :/
          It’s such a nice day outside as well!!

          Hope you pick up some finds at the clothes swishing!

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            Thanks, I kinda did. There were a lot of things I would have liked but in too-small sizes (I’m tall and a UK 14 to 16 and felt about a foot above everyone else) but I did score a few gems including a pair of grey Wrangler jeans.

            I find it’s best to just enjoy the experience of rummaging and consider it a bonus if I find things I actually want. And to avoid looking at the shoes or I’ll end up doing a Jen from the IT Crowd.

            I hope your delivery has shown up!

      2. nonegiven*

        IKR, DH is supposed to get a delivery this week that I have to sign for. My usual UPS guy barely touches the buzzer. If you hold it down it buzzes a while, if you barely touch it you might not hear it. How long do I have to sit in the front room with the door wide open to make sure I don’t miss him leaving a note that he missed me?

          1. nonegiven*

            Can’t hear the knocking, can only hear the buzzer if they actually push it and not just tap it like a normal doorbell. I want to get a real doorbell that plays a tune that goes on for a few seconds so I’ll have a chance at hearing it.

            They always run up, drop the package and are driving around the corner when I get to the door, if I hear anything. To sign for this, I’ll either have to see them drive up or chase them down the street because he’ll have a note ready and run up and stick it on the door and run back to the truck.

            I’ll probably open the door and sit on the love seat with a view of the street and read.

        1. NewSupplier*

          My UPS won’t ring the buzzer at all. (It’s actually quite loud.) He will knock once. Fortunately I have never had to sign for anything, but both times when I have been home and heard the knock, the UPS guy is long gone by the time my brain has registered…”oh that pounding sound is not my neighbor doing home improvements…that was someone knocking at the door”….I shudder to think what will happen if I do need to sign for something. (And actually at least 2x the delivery person left things that ought to have been signed for – but I got them and in a way I was glad, because I was gone those times so I didnt have to go through the hassle of getting again, but on the other hand, they were valuable, so I was also sort of annoyed they left the packages anyway.)

          1. Temperance*

            Some of the drivers do this because they are trying to get a bunch of deliveries done ASAP and are more concerned with finishing early.

          2. Mephyle*

            Is it because they want to finish early, or because they are penalized if they don’t meet an unrealistic goal?

        2. Gaia*

          My UPS guy knocks like he is the freaking police looking for the most wanted person on Earth. Scares the hell out of me every time. It sounds like he is trying to break my door down.

        3. many bells down*

          I used to live in an apartment complex where the UPS guy would just come around and leave a note on the door that we missed delivery. EVERY time I found one of those, I’d been home all day. If you’re going to walk around the whole complex, why not deliver the packages while you’re there?!?

          Finally they started delivering to the office (the office had a policy against it for a long time). But it was super frustrating to be sitting at home, next to the damn door, and never get a package.

    2. Some sort of Management Consultant*

      Recovering from gallbladder surgery. (Blargh :/) so it’ll be a calm day (again!)
      I’m learning how to knit socks and will probably finish my first sock today.

      There’s also a “pop up reuse”-thing just next to my house. The City sets up booths for people to drop off stuff they don’t want anymore but that can still be used and you can take stuff home if you find anything you like.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Oh fun! I just had 2 weeks ago with my family and I’m inviting some friends over next week for another one. (I have enough imported German beef left over, LOL.) I think I will try to make my own pretzels too.

      2. SpiderLadyCEO*

        Me too! I’m so excited, I hope it’s good! Are you going to wear a costume?

        I’m also hosting a chatroom discussion and being trained to volunteer at the humane shelter :D

    3. Dr. KMnO4*

      Playing video games with my husband. We might start Divinity Original Sin II today. If you like RPGs, Divinity Original Sin is fantastic (though a bit difficult in the early game) and the sequel seems even better.

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m cleaning the kitchen and doing some bulk cooking for October so I don’t have to think about it next month.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I made a big pot of chilli con carne this morning, and I’ve just finished making meatballs as well.

          I’m onto salted caramel cookies next :)

      1. Polina*

        Oh, mine too!! I handed it in Thursday and now i am too terrified to look at it again in case i discover typos or, worse, a part that did still need rewriting or some huge mistake.

        Good luck with the last hours! It’s almost over!

    5. Janelle*

      Oh this sounds fun. I’ve never done it but really should. Was already contemplating a closet clean out tomorrow as I can’t shove another hanger in. I have a pretty large closet to myself and it’s still stuffed. I am thinking it is time to get some shelving. I rent so can’t be permanent but maybe those white cheap cubby shelves from ikea you can build up or out. Display my nice bags and shoes and have some room for folded sweaters and such.

    6. nep*

      Just back from Saturday morning Olympic lifting training. Great people, lots to absorb. Not the least bit inhibited now, lifting my scrawny light weights (or even the empty bar). Begin. Anywhere.
      Love every minute of it.

    7. Liane*

      Probably going to Savers* just to look around and finally drop off donations College Daughter has had packed for weeks. Tonight, College Son is ordering in a couple pizza since he’s gotten enough points for a free one. Also CS and I will either be playing an RPG via Skype with friends or just having a gabfest if DM; we aren’t sure because the current DM may have a family thing.

      *used and new items charity/second hand chain in US and Canada

    8. Dr. Doll*

      Local Greek festival then a trip to the nearest independent bookstore to grey several copies of The Atlas of Beauty for all my women friends.

    9. Cookie D'oh*

      I’ve got a cat on my lap. I’m eating some apple crisp and reading the open thread. I’m using the cat as an excuse to put off doing the dishes. When I do get up I’m going to bake some pumpkin blondies for a get together later this evening where we’ll be watching college football.

      1. cornflower blue*

        I can’t find a permanent link, but google “Pickles cartoon c.o.l.” We have a copy on the fridge!

    10. Kyrielle*

      Resting and recovering from sinus surgery. (Outpatient and planned, so…really it’s going as intended, I am just resting lots and whinier than my five-year-old, which is embarrassing. On the other hand, he’s lifting heavy things I’m not supposed to – no more than ten pounds! – so he’s proud of himself at the moment anyway. That’s good. And helpful, since the cat food shipment got brought inside without my husband having to deal with it.)

      1. Merci Dee*

        I had sinus surgery back in 2008. Glad I did it, and had a pretty easy recovery. Only down-side was the evil scabby-clotty thing that lived in the back of my nose for a couple of weeks, until I could start doing the saline rinsed to get rid of it. I distinctly remember the first deep breath I took once that mass was dislodged and removed — I got light-headed and dizzy when all the oxygen hit my brain st once. :)

    11. Never Nicky*

      I measured, plotted and planned and we went furniture shopping for our new place. IKEA at Lakeside was hellish and the initial attempt at car tetris left me walking home! We got that sorted but glad we didn’t see a police car!

      Tomorrow will be spent constructing 5 bookcases, a drawer unit and a bedside table. Wish us luck!

    12. PhyllisB*

      Bought a new vehicle today. Okay, it’s not “new” it’s a 2010 Buick Enclave, but I’ve wanted one for years. If this posts twice, please delete one. I wrote my post and it disappeared, so I posted again.

    13. danr*

      At home, pre-cleaning for cleaning tomorrow. On a brighter note we had our first cold weather comfort dinner. Linguine with meat sauce and garlic bread. It was also our first big batch so we have three more dinner in the freezer.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      I spent most of yesterday looking for a bedroom lamp, as the one I had was no longer functioning properly. Everything was crap and/or ugly, or huge. Went to five places before I finally remembered Lowe’s has better quality lamps. >_< Found the perfect one there. Derp!

      Oh, and stuffing myself full of tamales at one of the extremely few authentic Mexican restaurants here. They have a small grocery and a bakery where I can get oodles of delicious pan dulce and other sweet treats. Also, it’s the only place in town (so far) where I’ve found the packets of Abuelita cocoa (instead of the tablets). Om nom nom.

    15. JamieS*

      Not much going on for me. Mostly working. The most interesting thing is I watched the Will & Grace premiere on Hulu. I loved the original but in still wary of the reboot.

    16. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I went on a 4 hour scavenger hunt to support a cure for pediatric cancer. I was great! And I did 12,500 steps in 4 hours. Whew!

  3. Perpetua*

    One of my closest friends just told me she’s moving to Ireland soon. Another might be leaving for Spain soon as well. I’m happy for them and I’ll support them, but I’m also just really really sad.

    I live in Eastern Europe, where the politics keep getting worse and more pointless, young educated people are leaving in droves, and that makes me feel like a schmuck for wanting to stay, yet I don’t really want to leave! Our government is completely ridiculous, the general atmosphere in the country as well, and yet I’m starting my own business here! This is my home, the country itself is beautiful, I want my parents to be close to their grandkids one day, and I don’t want to always be a stranger in another country (I’ve lived abroad before).

    How do you deal with such difficult decisions, or with grief about people leaving?

    1. Wrench Turner*

      My wife and I have talked about moving to Ecuador (her family is from there) for similar socio/political reasons – and we live in America just outside Washington, DC! My family has deep roots here from the country’s founding, and I feel my ancestors in every rock and tree. That said, life has gotten real complex and more hostile than I’d like here. My mom already moved down there for her own reasons, and her mom is about to retire and go there too. It would be like cutting off my feet that have always trod this ground to be a stranger elsewhere, like you said. Our mood sways with the news, sometimes we want to stay and fight as it were, other times we’re looking at the door.

      Ultimately it’s just stuff. Our tiny house, cars, etc. We can find another place to live, another car, and stuff to be comfortable wherever we go. It’s not like we’re moving to Mars, just another spot on the same rock. I’d have to work on my Spanish, but that would only make me smarter. I’m used to “living simple” thanks to spending many years stupid poor, so starting over isn’t as scary for me. I love exploring someplace new (so moving to Mars would be the ultimate for me anyway). Her, not so much, but she has a huge family network down there (I must have met 200 cousins on our last trip) and we could make it work.

      Many of my friends have moved away from this area already -mostly to different parts of the US but some internationally. Those I am closest to, we still chat on the interwebs like they lived across town, so it’s not so strange. When they’re back visiting, it’s like they never left. That makes it much easier for us, anyway.

    2. Gaia*

      I know what you mean about not loving the government or attitude in your country and yet wanting to stay. Much like Wrench Turner, my family were among the first European settlers to my country. They were among the people who fought in our Revolution. They were among the people who fought (for the North, thankfully) in our Civil War and they are all here now. I look around in horror at the current climate and yet…I cannot fathom moving. This is my home. This is where I am from and it is where my ancestors lived and died.

      I’ve had friends move away. Some just across the country (which is far enough!) and some out of the country. It is tough. But I find that it is still easy to stay pretty connected. No, we can’t go out to dinner but we can have a Skype & Dinner date (we make the same meal or same type of meal and Skype while we cook and eat). We text all the time and when we can, we visit in person.

  4. TL -*

    I just moved to a more humid place and my hair (long, wavy, highlighted) is getting really frizzy.
    My hair loved Boston’s super dry winters and was a little straighter and well-behaved there, even in the summer. If it’s styled right, it does the Disney princess look which I love but even without styling it was still fairly nice.
    Here, however, it’s frizzy and much wavier. I can’t deal with the frizz anymore! I don’t heat treat it at all and wash and condition every other day (trying to make that less often.) Brushing it makes it super frizzy but it’s really tangle prone and I can’t not brush it. I want my lovely winter hair back! Any suggestions from others with in-betweeny hair?

    1. Some sort of Management Consultant*

      What kind of products do you use?

      My mom has that kind of hair (we affectionately call her a poodle when we’re in humid countries) and she needs to use far heavier products in those climates. She has very fine hair so she doesn’t at home but in humid climate, she has to use lots of hair oil and things like that. She’s a fan of Kerastase’s line for “unruly” hair.

      Do you shampoo your hair? I wonder if going no-poo or using conditioner washing could help?

      With my mom’s hair, it seem like it becomes more porous in humidity so anything to keep those natural oils might help.

      (Disclaimer: Not a hairdresser and I have straight hair. I do know a fair amount about hair though. I collect hobbies ;))

      1. TL -*

        I do shampoo my hair! There’s plenty of it but the strands are thin (hello blonde hair!) so it gets oily fairly quickly – it gets super oily if I go wash every third day instead of every other. I don’t generally use any product in my hair (I’m a super low maintenance ponytail kinda gal) but what I do use tends to be very light. I might try a heavier product – the non-scalp-touching parts of my hair are the worst so it could just be a lack of oils locking things in.

        1. Some sort of Management Consultant*

          As I’m sure you know, there is also an element of teaching your hair that it doesn’t need to be washed too often.

          I have very thin and fine hair as well (though not blonde ;)) and I have been able to wash my hair once a week even when I had long hair.

          You wouldn’t consider cutting it? If you’re low maintenance and struggling with frizz, maybe a shorter style would suit you better?

          (I got a pixie cut two years ago and have never looked back. )

          1. TL -*

            Every time I cut it, I really like the cut and… basically start growing it back out immediately. My self-image is very tied up in my hair looking a certain way, apparently! I’m resigned to doing more daily maintenance, if that’s what it takes. I’m just hoping to shortcut as much of the experimenting as I can.

            (for reference, I probably buy 3 articles of clothing a year but I think it’s completely reasonable to drop $180+ on a cut and partial highlight.) I’m probably due for a trim, which is part of the problem, but I don’t know any good hairstylists around here.

            1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

              That’s totally fine! Hair is so personal! I just wanted to suggest it in case you hadn’t considered it.
              I also spend a lot of money on my hair!

              Hm, I was just gonna suggest paying a hairstylist for an hour of styling or product advice but that’s difficult if you don’t have one.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Just remember that they will likely push the products sold in the salon. They pretty much have to, but you don’t have to buy or use them. My salon is Kevin Murphy, and while I like the products, they’re SUPER expensive. Examples: Smooth Again serum and Repair Me leave-in are $35 a pop, but they’re ultra concentrated and last for a very long time (especially the Smooth Again, which I bought because it smells absolutely divine). But yeah, I can’t afford that regularly. I don’t even want to know how much the shampoo and conditioner cost. My hair is thick and naturally a little wavy, but it’s also bleached, and I have to be very careful with it.

                  I actually found a product combination that works for me: Hask Repairing shampoo and conditioner with argan oil, and Garnier Sleek and Shine Intensely Smooth leave-in conditioner and the smoothing milk (NOT the slick clear stuff). All are available at Walmart. A couple of times a month, I use the Hask deep conditioner in a little envelope, also available at Walmart. I only need half of it at a time.

                  My hair doesn’t look the way it does after I see my stylist unless I see my stylist, as I haven’t mastered the blowout yet. And it still gets frizzy in our humidity unless I flatiron it, but those products help me. You don’t have to use that exact thing–I just wanted to illustrate that the salon stuff isn’t always necessary.

                2. zora*

                  I use Kevin Murphy and the shampoo and conditioner are also about $35/each. But even though I have long-ish hair, it really doesn’t take much, and I only have to buy more every 5-6 months. So, honestly, it has come out to be the same amount of money per year as when I bought drugstore, but had to replace pretty frequently.

                  And I LOVE the texture and color of my hair using Kevin Murphy regularly.

          2. TL -*

            Oh! and yes, I need to train my hair to go longer. It took me a while to go to every other day instead of every day and now I’m convincing myself that it won’t be the end of the world to go through another few weeks with slightly oily hair.

            1. Kim Possibly*

              Can I ask about this “training your hair to tolerate less washing” thing…I’m starting to see it a lot on comment boards. What do people do for a living that they can go for days without cleaning their hair? I’m assuming it isn’t waitressing or anything else in an odorous environment. I come home reeking of fryer grease.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I used to wash it with shampoo every day, but then I started only doing it once or twice a week (this was before I went blonde). The rest of the time, I either skip it (if it’s still clean) or conditioner-wash it to get styling product and sweat/dirt out and keep it soft. It’s all about not using soap on it so much, which can make it really dry.

              2. Mela*

                You can also “wash” with conditioner only. Most conditioners still have a bit of soap-power and will get the smells out without overly drying your scalp.

        2. Janelle*

          I also get greasy quick if I don’t wash. My hair gal taught me to just wash the bangs top more often and less for the length. This helps a ton. Plus some dry shampoo here and there. I either do my hair once or twice a week or braid it. I’m never going to be the one who goes all out every day. Also thick conditioning masks go a long way for me. Not on my roots of course. I do that about once every third total wash. Keeps it calmer.

      2. Ricky*

        So I’m not sure if this will be helpful or not – I have really thick, wavy/curly/frizzy hair that I haven’t completely beaten into submission yet- but something I picked up pretty recently is changing up how I was my hair. So now I shampoo, rinse that out, cover -everything- in conditioner, let that sit while I wash my face/shave/etc, detangle and rinse, and then shampoo again. It’s helped a good bit in keeping my hair under control as far as oiliness, etc. For product, I really like DevaCurl.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      What kind of brush are you using? I have frizzy hair and I only ever use either a Denman brush (hard, plastic comb-like bristles) or a comb or ideally nothing at all if I don’t want to straighten it – it goes ringletty until I sleep on dry hair and then it goes FOOM. I don’t condition either as I don’t believe it actually helps matters.

      Some people swear by no shampoo, or doing a thing with a cotton t shirt that seems to work for others but made me look like an electrocuted hedgehog.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        PS I have very thick hair and it’s been the most manageable since I ditched all the fancy products and started just washing it in my 99p (what you would call drugstore) shower gel!

      2. TL -*

        I use, I guess, a normal brush? Just with the gel handle and the air-filled bristle part; the bristles are plastic. I don’t use anything fancy in my hair (mostly because I’m lazy.) I use conditioner but I’ve gone without before and the results were Not Good.
        Not brushing is not an option, unfortunately. My hair has a magical ability to tangle like nobody’s business – I frequently have serious knots around my hair ties when I take them out at the end of the day.

        1. annanon*

          Re: brushes, I have a different hair type, but I’ve heard from people that this can make a difference. Essentially too many bristles can add to the frizz as they are essentially separating all the strands individually. Bigger/harder bristles (ala a comb) should be able to get the knots out, but with essentially less foofing off the hair as it were :D

        2. CorruptedbyCoffee*

          I have very thick, very wavy, very frizzy hair and I’m having some success with coating it in conditioner and working it through with a comb in the shower, then applying some bumble and bumble no blow and a leave in. I use some really heavy duty conditioners and it seams to help with the frizz.

      3. Kathenus*

        I second the Denman brush, I have long, very thick hair with more natural wave than I’d like. These are the only style of brushes that work for me and I swear by them.

        And thanks for my now having the mental image of an electrocuted hedgehog :)

      4. Die Forelle*

        I second the suggestion to switch brushes, or use a comb only. I have thin, but curly/frizzy hair, and when I stopped using a brush and only using a comb, I noticed a reduction in frizz.

      5. PhyllisB*

        I don’t have this specific problem. but something I discovered by accident (water in my eyes and picked up the wrong bottle) put conditioner on first; wash it out and THEN shampoo. It made such a difference. I don’t use use conditioner very often because it makes my hair too slick to hold a curl, but doing this was great!! About two weeks later I read a magazine article suggesting this very thing.

        1. Julia*

          I’ve read (and tried) using conditioner first and not washing it out before you shampoo to protect the ends from the shampoo, as the ends aren’t usually dirty, but drier than the roots.

    3. acmx*

      I have thin and slightly curly long hair. I use Ouidad Humidity control gel. It’s a little expensive but you don’t need a lot. I might use a quarter size amount. I use it on more than damp (but not dripping) hair.

    4. Perpetua*

      Have you tried dry shampoo or baby powder, at least for the “trying to wash it less often” part? I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it anymore! I’d normally have to wash my (also blonde highlighted, lots of it but thin-ish and layered) hair every other day, but with several applications of dry shampoo I’m down to once a week! The last day or two it’s in a bun usually, but still.

    5. Look What You Made Me Do*

      You need to check out the Curly Girl book. Figure out what type of hair you have and then follow their tips about how to care for it. I also have wavy hair and even though I still regularly shampoo, I only comb my hair with a wide-toothed comb in the shower while it has conditioner in it. I never brush it unless I’m going to be putting it up in a bun or something anyway. Brushing destroys your wave/curl formation. The only product I use right now is Frizz-Ease, which I also put in at the end of my shower and scrunch but I’m thinking about getting a curl-enhancing gel that will help give some hold.

    6. Kathenus*

      Try Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum – it works really well before blow drying (and cuts the drying time substantially), but also works with air drying or even on dry hair.

    7. Temperance*

      I recommend checking out a local nice salon and asking for product recs, if you can.

      I don’t brush my hair, ever, and that has helped. I only comb it out when wet. I’m wondering if a wide tooth comb might be better for you than an actual brush.

    8. Fiennes*

      Humidity is a PITA and honestly I’m not sure anything is going to give you back the hairstyle/habits you’re used to. (I grew up someplace humid, moved someplace dryer, believed I’d gotten great at styling my hair…then moved back to humidity and realized I didn’t know a thing.)

      My basic tips:

      1) Invest in a flat iron/curling iron, whatever works for your hairstyle. Yeah, it takes more time, but this is the price of fighting the frizz. I find that these tools impose some order at least for the day.

      2) For extreme cases — I’m not kidding here — consider Velcro rollers and an old-timey bonnet hairdryer. You will feel like you should be named Pearline and voting for LBJ, but you can at least do other things like check email while you’re under it. Your hair will keep that shape for multiple days.

      1. Monique*

        Thank you for that great visual! Suddenly I’m back in my mom’s kitchen getting a home perm and sitting under her bonnet dryer while my mom and aunts smoke in the kitchen and drink coffee. (That was the 80s, but still!)

    9. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

      mine’s longish, fine, and sometimes ridiculously frizzy – I swear by LUSH’s Roots as a hair mask (one use tends to leave it well-behaved for several days) and a natural-bristle brush (other brushes aren’t fine enough to get between the hairs (which tangle as a sport) and just ramp up the floof by building up static)

    10. Artemesia*

      I can’t win on this one. When I visit relatives in Colorado where it is bone dry my hair is perfect and my skin goes nuts no matter how much moisturizer I slather on. In humid places, my skin is fine but my hair is immediately a limp pile.

    11. many bells down*

      I’m a fine, frizzy hair girl (3a curls, more or less), and I haven’t brushed it in years. Even when it’s long. I only detangle it wet with a wide-toothed comb. I like Madam CJ Walker’s Curl Defining Milk for management. You can get it on Amazon, but somehow it’s cheaper at Sephora, at least last time I checked.

    12. Saucy Minx*

      Don’t brush wet hair, unless they have developed special brushes for that now. Use a wide-toothed comb.

      Back when I had waist-length hair & a perm, I used John Frieda Frizz-Ease, which worked great.

      1. Lily Evans*

        They actually do have brushes for wet hair now! It’s a company called Wet Brush that makes them and they’ve been wonderful for my super thick hair that takes ages to comb. That plus Shea Moisture detangler cut my hair combing time in half. I was skeptical at first but it’s quickly become one of my “must-haves.”

    13. The Other Dawn*

      How thick is your hair? I wonder if having it thinned a bit during your next cut might help a bit? I have thick, curly hair and I’m prone to frizzing when it’s humid. It seems more manageable when I have it thinned. That way when it starts to frizz, it doesn’t puff out so much.

      1. TL -*

        Not that thick. It needs to be layered but it’s more thick for the type of hair I have than thick hair in general. (I grew up in south Texas; the sylists there thought my hair was average. It wasn’t until I moved to a city and started seeing more specialized stylists that I realized my hair was on the thicker side – the layering helped a lot.)

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        Can’t believe I forgot about this. I always have this done when it’s cut. A friend once asked if I ever thought of having it thinned out as my hair is so thick you really can’t tell that I do.

    14. Belle di Vedremo*

      No hair care suggestions, but thanks for linking to your photo blog. Really enjoy your work, and what a beautiful place you’ve chosen for grad school!

    15. Triplestep*

      Go to Amazon.com and look up the book “Curly Girl”, then read all the comments about how life-changing the method has been for so many. (You don’t have to buy the book on Amazon, or even at all – just read some of the comments.) It was written by the women who makes the Deva products and the over-rated Devacurl hair cut, but what she promotes makes sense: Do not put junk in your hair, and you will not have to wash it with stuff to get that junk out. She does not recommend products, just specific ingredients to look for or steer clear of. You can find similar hair philosophies on the ‘net as well, but if you buy the book it will be the best $10 you ever spend on a hair product.

      If you follow this method, you’ll be “washing” your hair with conditioner every day, putting non-silicone product in it, and letting it air dry. No combing, no brushing. Depending on your hair, you might clip it up at the roots as it dries. (I did this because my hair is heavy.)

      I grew up with stick straight long hair. I cut it short and wore it that way through my twenties, at which point I had two kids. When I decided grow my hair out, it would not behave. It just went frizzy when I brushed and even blow-dried it. Someone said “I think your hair wants to curl” which I thought was absurd. But it turns out something had happened to it during my twenties/two pregnancies, and it was no longer straight. I tried this method, and it indeed was wavy/curly/in-betweeny. I cut it short again after I went on some meds that thinned it out, but in the 6 years I wore it long and wavy no one could believe I did not use shampoo.

      Give it a try!

    16. Schnapps*

      Have you tried a hair oil? You put a squirt in you hand and then work it through (use a second squirt if you have a lot of hair like me). Comb/brush it through wet, and then once it’s dry, brush it again.

      Or blow dry it to 80% dry, put some oil in and then dry it completely with a brush or comb. I live on the west coast of Canada and we are fairly humid (my hair goes curly/frizzy) and the only thing that works is hair oil and some heat.

    17. Merci Dee*

      With humidity, you basically want to keep your hair from picking up extra moisture, so you need so something to seal the cuticle to keep it smooth. I live in the deep South, where humidity has a life of its own, and have corkscrew curly hair.

      I typically wash with a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner, and leave it on while I wash my face, etc. Once I get out of the shower, I spray in a little leave-in conditioner, and comb it through. Then I work a dab of gel in, and comb that through, too. It’s been my experience that dampening with the leave-in spray and then working through the gel lets the mix really coat all my hair, and I can use less gel since the spray helps distribute it better.

      Bonus with using the hair gel – if your hair starts to frizz during the day, you can usually dampen your hands, lightly run them over your hair, and re-activate the gel to tame the frizz again.

      Good luck with finding something that works for you!

  5. Emily*

    Lately I’ve been thinking about going back to church, something I haven’t done in about two decades.

    I didn’t grow up with church – no one in my family followed any form of organised religion – but when I was a child we had a family friend (with a daughter my age) who did, and at one point suggested I go with them. I did so for about two years, but at that age I was probably too young to really grasp everything that was going on (I can’t even tell you which denomination that church was).

    To be clear I didn’t have a bad experience or anything – quite the opposite in fact, they were lovely people who genuinely cared (well most of them anyway, I’m sure there were exceptions). The reason I stopped going was mainly due to logistics – my friend’s parents used to pick me up on Sundays but we moved away and it wasn’t practical anymore. I’m sure when I was going to church I /believed/ in the things I was taught, but I can’t say for sure if it was a different sort of ‘belief’ to the type attributed to things like magic or Santa Claus, I might’ve been too young to know the difference.

    Then somewhere along the process of growing up I lost faith – I can’t pinpoint the exact reason, but it was probably a combination of meeting too many people who claim to be Christians who are awful people and hypocrites (including one religious studies teacher in high school who thankfully was only there for one term). Plus all the stuff that’s come out about what goes on behind closed doors in the Catholic church, all the people who hold up religion as a reason to oppose things like birth control or same-sex marriage. As a result whenever I meet people who are overtly religious my guard goes up, perhaps unfairly.

    I’m not looking to start a religious debate, just thinking about whether it’s worth giving it another go. On the one had I want to have that kind of faith again, but on the other I don’t know if I can accept such a shift in thinking. (I’m also wary of the cult-like mentality that seem to seep into some places). I know things vary from church to church, but I wouldn’t even know where to start.

    To make things harder I work in a scientific field (which I love) and I’m a skeptic by nature. Is it possible to reconcile all of this – along with my own morals and beliefs formed beyond religious teachings – with religion? Or would it necessitate a drastic shift in thinking? Am I overthinking this? Surely it shouldn’t feel this overwhelming.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Disclaimer: I don’t mention this unless it’s relevant but I’m a Christian. Very liberal end of C of E. Was baptised in my 30s. By people who were absolutely for gay marriage (I checked) both individually and as a church.

      First off, it’s okay to go if you want to without figuring out what you do or don’t believe. It sounds like it might feel like a drastic shift to you personally, and you might find you want to take time to explore that, and what it means for you – everyone is different.

      Some people like to go to a local church where people will be welcoming and talk to them. Some would rather sit anonymously in a much bigger place. I like to go to empty churches, light candles and contemplate.

      I think you get to choose what your own morals and beliefs look like. Can you be a skeptic and go to church? That’s your decision to make (but nobody has the right to tell you that you can’t).

      Lots of people are scientists and religious, but none of them are you or know what is right for you.

    2. TL -*

      I know plenty of good scientists who are also Christians (and some bad scientists who are Christian but their troubles don’t stem from their religion.)
      If you’re interested in going to a church, I would just start going to different ones every Sunday. You can just slip in and out of services quietly until you find one that feels “right” to you. You can also go to Sunday school or socialize a bit after the service to see if you like the congregation. Just say you’re new to the area when introducing yourself – people are used to seeing new faces and temporary faces in church. Churches are supposed to be welcoming places.
      I’m not a church goer but when I go to services with friends and/or family, I strongly prefer old-fashioned services or Mass to the more modern Jesus is Cool services. But some of my friends are the exact opposite.

    3. Some sort of Management Consultant*

      Could you make a project out of it?
      Visit a new church every month for a year or something like that?

      1. Some sort of Management Consultant*

        My grandma, who’s now in her 90s, was always someone who searched. She grew up Lutheran but was agnostic.

        But there is not one person I know who knows more about world religions than she. Name it, she’s studied it. She’s learned about everything from Taoism to Hinduism and Buddishm (as in, visiting scholars and “priest” (can’t think of the proper world for all religions” would stay at their house.

        She converted to Catholicism in her 60s and has had extensive correspondence with European scholars on stuff related to Catholicism.

        She’s also very very scientifically minded. Everything from marine biology to astrophysics. She was over yesterday and though she can barely see or hear, she’s been reading some books by Oliver Sacks. We spent a pleasant hour discussing the brain, differerent disorders and where our personalities are.

        Next time I see her, she might want to talk 14th catholic mysticism or fractals. (It has happened…)

        My point is, she tried everything before she found what she considers to be her religious home. And she enjoyed the search. She still enjoys it.

          1. Some sort of Management Consultant*

            She really is. I have so many stories but my favorite is about her and my grandpa.

            I don’t believe in soulmates as a rule but with them, I have to wonder.

            They were married for 65 years and were as in love the day he died as when they met.

            My grandma is Dutch and my grandpa is Swedish. He was an engineer and a few years after the war, he went on a business trip to Holland. It was the custom to go out to dinner with female company (wives and the like) and one of the ladies had to cancel so she asked her friend, my grandma, to go in her stead.

            I guess my grandparents must’ve clicked because after that they started writing letters to each other.
            None of them spoke each other’s language so my grandpa wrote in German and my grandma in English, until she learned Swedish and he Dutch.

            They met again a year later when my grandma came to Sweden and they went up in the mountains to skiing. She was terrified the entire time – not a lot of mountains in Holland.

            The third time they met, it was on the Swedish Seafarer Church in Rotterdam for their marriage.

            We still have a lot of their correspondence, including the letter my grandpa wrote to my grandma’s father, in pretty terrible Dutch, not asking for his permission to marry but for his blessing, and how he would care for his daughter all his life because he had never loved anyone more than her.

            Even a few weeks before his death, when he could hardly see or think, he remembered my grandma’s birthday and got her three red roses.

      2. Cookie D'oh*

        I agree. Try out some different churches to see where you feel comfortable. My church is on the more non-traditional side. The atmosphere is one that helps people who’ve never been to church or who haven’t been in a while feel comfortable and welcome.

      3. Sylvan*


        Try different things and see what you connect with best. It’s okay for this to be a work in progress. That’s pretty much how life goes for all of us.

    4. nonegiven*

      I lost faith as a small child. I mean I didn’t start out thinking they were lying to me. When first exposed, it never occurred that people would lie to me about it.

      It’s just that it surprised me when they told me things that I had observed to be untrue. If I asked questions, people who didn’t seem to understand logic or the scientific method started bullshitting me to the point that I decided they were pulling it out of their asses.

      I have no idea what is the truth but I really can’t take anyone’s word for it, now. It might as well all be Easter Bunny stories.

      1. Veronica*

        Some really good advice already given here. If you are looking for churches on the more liberal side of things, you probably want mainline Protestant — such as the Episcopal church or the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) or the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church in the USA). [Oops . . . I’m assuming you are in the states. Well, the main point is that many Protestant churches have both a conservative wing and a liberal wing, and it might be worth checking church websites before you go to make it less likely that you wander into a church you will never accept.] If you are thinking about Catholicism, official doctrine is the same everywhere, but the experience at the parish level can be radically different.
        As a historian of religion, my understanding of religion is quite different from many people’s. I note that religion is something that exists in nearly all times, cultures and places, although of course it exists in wildly different forms. To me, this suggests that there is some widespread need in human nature that it answers. I think of it less as “Here are faith statements that I must agree to” and more “This is something like song or art — it answers to something that people want or need, even if they can’t say why. Why do people all over the world sing? I don’t know. But they do, so singing must have some point.”
        It occurs to me that what I just wrote might sound dismissive of atheists, agnostics, people who have been hurt by religion, or others. In no way do I mean that! Just because religion (or song, or poetry, or sex, or having kids, or world travel) might serve a need — meaning? transcendence? community? — for some people, doesn’t mean that every individual feels that need or that everyone answers it in the same way. I am always interested in the way that different people are drawn so strongly to different things. If someone feels drawn to learn to fix cars, or play the cello, or study accounting, I will always say, “Do it!” In the same vein, if you feel a religious impulse, I think you should explore it in whatever way seems best to you.

        1. Overeducated*

          +1000, another social scientist endorsement of this comment.

          And going to church purely for the music is a totally valid thing! I have gone to church with people who do that while professing their unbelief. The church’s official policy was “great, seriously, ALL are welcome.”

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            If I could find a church that has a service that is entirely in song, I’d go back to church in a heartbeat. Alas, I haven’t found one yet, and I couldn’t sit through another, “You shouldn’t vote for evil liberals if you’re a real Christian” sermon.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Some where I read of a person’s opinion that the reason there are so many religions is because each fills a need somehow. I held on to this as I sorted. And sorted.

    5. Jen Erik*

      I’m Presbyterian. Sorry this is so long. I hope you find it helpful, not contentious.

      I think TL’s advice about trying different churches is great.

      Two other thoughts.

      I think if you went to a society where the general population – outside of churches – thought cats were demons, someone would find scriptural authority for that. And after the general population decided cats were pets, twenty years later churches would preach that too. I think (sections of?) the Christian church (possibly other religions too) being composed of ordinary fallible people, will always be able to rationalise not being socially progressive – and I think as society changes, the church, while it lags behind, will also change.

      For me, none of that is a problem with faith as such, it’s just a bad effect of religious institutions. And there are compensating good effects as well.

      Secondly – seeing you’re a scientist and a sceptic – it’s either true or false. Either God exists, or s/he doesn’t. If s/he exists, and the Christian Idea of that is more-or-less accurate, and you have to change your morals and beliefs as a result – that’s the scientific way, really, isn’t it? And if it’s false, that would be a useful thing to be sure of.

      I hope you don’t feel that’s contentious – I don’t mean to start a debate. I just mean to say, be as sceptical as you are, and as scientific as you can be – if it’s true, it will be true nonetheless. (And I don’t know what to say about the cats-are-demons people: they are always with us. But there are the make-poverty-history people too.)

    6. Perpetua*

      Oof, I empathize. A lot. Especially with the “I want to have faith, but I’m also scientifically oriented” part.

      A part of me wishes I had the kind of strong faith that I see as useful for some of my friends, however, it’s not something I can force and it just doesn’t feel congruent with my other beliefs. Especially since in my part of the world there are no “universalist” churches or something similar – you’re either Catholic or you’re not, and for almost everything else you’ll have to do your worshipping by yourself, so that greatly diminishes the option of having a community, which I find possibly the best part of religions.

      However, I’m also so turned off by so many elements of most religions, and I end up feeling like they often do more harm than good.

      So my “solution”, however tentative it is, is to try and put that faith that I would like to put into something greater into myself. I don’t mean that in the individualistic “I can do everything by myself, I don’t need anybody else” kind of way, no. I mean that in the way of strengthening my own capacity to deal with uncertainty and pain (as I think that that’s what religions were mostly invented for) – by breathing, meditating, therapy, moving my body, art, whatever works; of showing myself kindness and love and acceptance, and then extending it to others as well.

      Believing in a God who takes care of it all seems like the easier option to me, but as I said, I can’t force myself to do it, so this is what I CAN do.

    7. Dance fever*

      You might also try Unitarian Universalists. It’s very liberal and welcoming. A lot of people who are not Christian attend when their home “base” population isn’t big enough to sustain a building. (ba’hai, Jewish, and Hindus attended my UU church.) every congregation I’ve seen has a healthy number of scientists. I’ve found the pastor makes or breaks the church for me, so I also encourage visiting around. :)

      1. Mephyle*

        Seconded. This is a church for people who like the community and service aspects of being part of a church without necessarily believing in any particular religious element.

    8. SophieChotek*

      Disclaimer: I am a non-denominational (Protestant) Christian. Sorry if this is too long.

      Like others have said several times, visiting different churches is definitely something. Also, depending on how much research you want to do, nowadays you can find out a lot about what a church believes by their statements on their website. Or maybe you find a church that “fits” you even though you don’t believe everything – I don’t know, you like the music, or the people, or it’s just close to where they live and it has good kid’s programs, or something. (Although in the long run, something might come up that is too different for you.) But I do have friends who go to this church or that church and tell me “they don’t agree with everything” but they still go because (insert reason here).

      As a lot of people have said, there are many scientists who are/were Christians and many who aren’t. There are many books written by various scientists over the years who have written about being both a scientist and a Christian and how they reconcile it/deal with skepticsm. Krista Tippert wrote Einstein’s God and a DNA scientist wrote Language of God (Collins, I think). I have not read either, but recall seeing those on Christian non-fiction shelves in B&N.

      Like Ramona Flowers said – a bigger church is easier to slip in and out the pack and not be the obvious visitor (even if you don’t raise your hand. Thankfully the “if you are a visitor, please raise your hand” has been going out of fashion.) But sometimes a church can have its appeal for other things – the architecture, the stained glass, etc. I go to High Latin Mass sometimes because I find something comforting in all the ritual and incense and schola singing/chanting in Latin.

      Or ask your friends that do go to a religous service. Many people might be pretty willing to talk about what they like/don’t like–why they go. I have several friends who are Christian, we don’t go to the same churches, and we sit around and discuss what we like/don’t like/disagree with etc.

    9. Overeducated*

      I think you can start exploring before committing, and I think it’s certainly possible to reconcile science and faith (or rather, to live with them in parallel – I think they are very different ways of approaching very different issues, for me anyway, not competing ways of explaining natural phenomena as they might have been in 1550).

      My main point is that I think what you should not look for is a return to the kind of belief you had as a child. A lot of Christians and ex-Christians go through crises of faith as young adults when our ways of thinking get more sophisticated and we can’t hang on to our more simplistic ideas from childhood. Some people reject them and some reinterpret, but for the serious thoughtful Christians I know, it can’t stay the same. The book “History of God” by Karen Armstrong talks about a wide variety of ways Christians, Jews, and Muslims have conceived of God over the centuries, it’s fascinating and I recommend it.

      One of the things that I gave up in my own crisis of faith (which was like 12 years long) was the idea that faith is a value proposition that you believe is either true or false, and that the truth of religious ideas is anything that can be proven like a scientific fact. I have really leaned a lot on the idea that faith is a commitment to the absurd, with “good fruits” in my life as the most “proof” I am ever going to get. I guess in simple terms, I just want to say you can go to church and participate as fully in Christian life as you want to, even if you don’t feel sure about what you believe, because lived experience is just as much a way to find truth as philosophy and argument.

    10. Nye*

      If you liked the ritual and community of church, but aren’t looking for strict doctrine, maybe look at Unitarian Church or Quaker meeting houses? Both are typically very welcoming and open to people interpreting their faith in their own way.

      1. Jules the First*

        Or your local humanist society? They often do “Sunday services” which are more like a Sunday morning philosophy or lecture series than a religious service. Community without the need for faith…

    11. Marillenbaum*

      Totally! I was raised Mormon, and left the church when I was 21, and about a year ago I found I missed church–not the doctrine I’d been raised with, but the music and ritual and community. Now, I go to a Unitarian Universalist congregation in my city, and I love it. There’s a lot of flexibility around individual beliefs, so being a scientist and a skeptic would be in no way contradictory, we’re super LGBTQ+-friendly, and any church where we sing Dolly Parton AND old-school hymns is cool in my view.

    12. Wrench Turner*

      I’m an irreligious Pagan, but for all the good people reasons you described, yes, you should try looking at churches again. The community matters more than the doctrine, which you don’t have to agree 100% with anyway. I would visit new churches to see what the people there are like, making 2 or 3 trips. You don’t owe anyone there anything, so no harm done if you ultimately move on. If something red flags, you can be on your way.

      It is possible to reconcile these things, I think. I’m a science-minded technical contractor, but I still see the wonders of the cosmos in the sun, moon and sky everyday. Beautiful artistry of creation can be seen in the crushed rock quartz crystals on the rooftops I walk on. I love the shattered ice pattern of zinc oxide on the surface of galvanized steel. I know that the physics of compressed boiling refrigeration gasses are at play on every planet everywhere. That’s wonderful to me. Does that mean there is no divine hand at work? To me, it doesn’t matter. Be a good person to everyone you meet, even (especially) those that disagree with you or despise you. Help other people as much as you can even (especially) those that disagree with you or despise you. Unless you can build something beautiful and helpful in your wake, leave only footprints. If I meet St. Peter at the gates, I’ll deal with it then. Meantime, I care more about the people that are living here, now, and who will live here after I’m gone.

      Besides, I’ve probably watched too much Star Trek for my own good. If I ever actually met a god, I’d probably treat them like any other alien life form I don’t yet understand.

      Good luck in your search. Enjoy it. The obstruction is the path, and the path is the point.

    13. Epsilon Delta*

      So to your second question, I think you can choose what parts of the religion you want to believe in (e.g. Jesus, God, rules for living a good life) without having to believe in things that go against your beliefs about how the world works (perhaps virgin birth, miracles in general, Adam and Eve – fill in the blanks with whatever applies to you personally). I don’t think that’s being a bad Christian, I think that’s being a rational person who thinks about the claims others make. And many churches will ascribe to different views on these subjects too.

      What exactly are you looking to get out of going to church though? Like, I’m a former Catholic and I no longer believe any of the stories etc, but I find something very comforting and familiar in going to church on Christmas and Easter. It’s similar to how it wouldn’t feel like Christmas without the tree. So, figure out exactly what you want to get out of going to church/redeveloping your faith, so you can tell if you’re getting closer to having that.

    14. OperaArt*

      Good advice above. My medium-sized town is home to a very large scientific research facility, where I work. The churches in town are full of scientists and engineers. From the other angle, the research facility is full of people of many spiritual beliefs. My experience is that science and spirituality are far more entwined than people outside realize.

    15. Always Anon*

      I’m a Christian and I love learning about science. Think of it this way, God created every thing but He didn’t tell us how it worked, instead He gave us intelligence and curiosity. Asking questions is good! There are multiple times in the Bible where God encourages people to ask questions and times when we are encouraged to try and figure out the answers on our own before the answer is given.

      It does feel overwhelming because it is a life choice, but the great thing is the rest of us started the same way. You have to take it one step at a time. If you decide to go to church and end up accepting God into your heart you will start to see some changes. It is a process.

      When looking for a church I would encourage you to go to their website and look at their mission/belief statements. It’s not a foolproof way of picking out the bad ones (and there are lots of bad ones!) but it can help. Look of churches that boldly state that they follow the Bible, teach that Jesus is the only way to God, God is all powerful and good, the Holy Spirit is here to guide us, and that Christians should love one another. Those are some basic guideposts to look for.

      Also get a Bible, and read it. And please don’t start in the old testament, that has to do with the old covenant that Jesus replaced so it’s not a great place to start. Start reading the new testament and learn about how the church started. And you know what, even if you haven’t accepted Jesus into your heart yet you can still pray a simple “please help me understand this and give me wisdom” prayer. Same with choosing a church. If you feel like you want to go back, you are being called, so answer back and ask for guidance when picking a church (no need for flowery language, just plain simple words work). You never know what might happen.

      I’ll be praying for you.

      1. Book Lover*

        I know you mean well, but this sounds so terribly exclusionary. Christians (alone?) should love each other. Shouldn’t we be kind to each other regardless of our religions? Don’t learn the Old Testament? Only look for a community that thinks Jesus is the only way to G-d? This is not intended as a judgement on you, just to comment that perhaps this didn’t come across the way you intended?

        1. Amadeo*

          I do disagree with excluding the Old Testament, that’s a history lesson on why we need Jesus, and that Christians should be serving as hands and feet and loving everyone, not just each other.

          However, if you ask a devout, deeply believing Christian how to reach God, they’re going to tell you Jesus is the only way. I don’t understand why you’re surprised by that. Saying Jesus is the only way isn’t intended to be exclusionary; to a Christian, Jesus is for everyone, and not just the ‘good’ people.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            So here’s the thing. When you become, say, a surgeon, you are a surgeon because you qualified as one. You passed your exams and now you have scrubs and a scalpel (probably wildly inaccurate sorry).

            Having those things makes you feel like a surgeon. You are a surgeon. But you don’t perform surgery unless you actually operate on patients. It’s not just being, but doing.

            Some people think believing in Jesus is the operation, the doing. It’s the heart surgery that makes you a surgeon. Some people might see Jesus as the scrubs and the scalpel – and the heart surgery is what you do with that. And I don’t mean evangelising, because that’s just handing your scalpel to other people and telling them you have it.

            I mean stuff like buying food for the food bank as well as yourself. Stuff about what you do and how you treat others. I don’t know if that makes any sense.

                1. Ramona Flowers*

                  I’m amazed someone made it through that.

                  I guess what I was trying to say is that I don’t think believing in Jesus or going to church makes me a Christian, any more than holding a scalpel makes someone a surgeon. It’s what you DO with the scalpel that matters.

                2. Amadeo*

                  Well, put it this way, from the perspective if a Christian – even the demons believe in Jesus. If you are so inclined, you may like the passage from James 2:16-26. It would help you explain better in the future why you feel the way you do in a language any Christian should understand; whether the passage means anything you personally or not.

                  Apologies if this feels like an overstep to you!

                3. Ramona Flowers*

                  Why in the world would I be focused on speaking in language other Christians will understand?

          2. PhyllisB*

            I don’t think she meant NEVER read the Old Testament, just don’t start there. TOT is so stern and forbidding for someone just starting to explore their faith. Find a church that feels right for you, and maybe get some guidance from someone in the church you respect. A lot of people recommend starting with the book of John. There’s no exact way to Christian faith; except that you are seeking Jesus. All I’m saying is, think about it and read and study. What works for me may not work for you.

            1. Temperance*

              OP didn’t say anything about specifically seeking out Christianity, and the proselytizing/coded witnessing is where the objection lies. I can’t believe that you don’t see that.

              1. Ramona Flowers*

                Also, it’s a complete turn-off for someone gently exploring the idea of religion or church attendance to start in about things like ‘Jesus is the only way’ or to say you’ll pray for them. Meeting people where they’re at is, I think, far more helpful.

                1. Temperance*


                  It’s always sort of mesmerizing to me that this was never taught when witnessing. We were coached on all sorts of sneaky, underhanded ways to start conversations, but never to just be open, accepting, and not start “one true church”-ing people.

            2. HannahS*

              Ok you do realize that you’re on a public forum with Jews reading, right? Like, we can hear you when you talk about our books being forbidding, stern, and replaced by Jesus. To us, they are not. Attempt to be more respectful of other people’s beliefs.

                1. HannahS*

                  Indeed. I’m not sure Christians realize how much casual anti-Semitism occurs when they talk about how horrible the messages in our holy books on literally the holiest day in our calendar.

              1. Mazzy*

                It’s probably too late to see this, but I think this was shorthand for telling them it’s worth skipping over the parts on what animals to sacrifice and how, how to treat your slaves, and all of those rules from the time. I actually would recommend the stories of Genesis and Exodus, Exodus is probably my favorite part of the Bible. The theme of the stories of Joseph and Moses are about being watched out for, and being guided, even though you don’t always know what the meaning of what you’re going through is at the time.

                1. HannahS*

                  Perhaps. That doesn’t change the fact that dissing Jewish holy books on Yom Kippur on a public forum hosted by a Jewish woman with Jewish readers was in poor taste. My point is that Christians should watch their language when they talk about their Old Testament, because it’s our Torah and we can hear you.

        2. Temperance*

          I’m an ex-evangelical, and the entire comment is coded witnessing. I can smell it a mile away.

          It was intended to be exclusionary because a certain group of folks believes that there’s only one way to Heaven, and it’s through “accepting Jesus into your heart”. It’s written to almost seem as if it’s encouraging OP to investigate, but if you read it carefully, you’ll notice that the entire thing is “do this and only this”.

        3. Sylvan*

          Yes, if your starting point is feeling that you are an outsider, reading that being kind to one another is a specifically Christian thing or that one religious figure is the only way to know God does not really make you less of an outsider.

          These attitudes are why I’m not involved in organized religion anymore. What could be a way to connect with something larger than yourself becomes a way to form a social clique.

      2. Temperance*

        Okay, I was raised evangelical, and you’re witnessing here. It’s painfully obvious. That’s not helpful, and not what OP is asking.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      For me, a sense of community was the most important. How do people treat each other? My first church was equivalent to sitting alone on an iceberg, it was a cold, lonely place. I went there for 8 plus years and did not have a single friend.
      Why bother? So I didn’t for decades.
      I thought about the community thing and I realized that I had another need/focus that was also very high on my list. I wanted to be around people who were discussing today’s concerns and how to make a moral decision in the face of the chaos we have here.

      While my church is not handling some of the harder topics out there (molestation, drug use and so on) they still do talk about some things that come up often and are relevant.
      To combat my concerns about cults I decided to stay with well-recognized denominations. The church I go to now frequently says that it is important to be part of a larger group, for the sake of transparency, accountability, and integrity. This just resonated with me, so I added to my list “church must have layers of governance”. There should be higher ups in the organizational chart.

      You may be able to find a church that is interested in blending science and the bible. I think that would be fascinating.
      Some churches have assigned people who scan the congregation for new faces. Once they spot the new face they go over and greet that person. Understand that this is normal to them and use the opportunity to say what you would like to say. “I am looking for a new church. I am not sure I will find one. But today, I decided to come here.”
      If they offer an adult Sunday school, check it out as an observer. Watch what they talk about, how they talk to each other and think about the relevance of the conversations.
      If you decide to join a church the church should resonate with you more often than not. I don’t think anyone agrees with everything their church says. However, most of the time what they are saying should make sense to you and be of some value to you. I think feeling connected to people at church is super important. And last, I think that a church should comfort us in some manner.

    17. Janelle*

      I feel that it never hurts to spend some time in church. I was raised catholic but didn’t attend regularly. Church can and should be what you make of it. I love to go to full mass, sit and soak it in. The beauty, the prayers, the incense. It can just be calming for me. I go much more often now than I did when I was younger. You don’t have to be the full fledged, always go, member. You can make it the experience you want.

      1. Wrench Turner*

        I sometimes go to the Christmas midnight mass at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC (I live close enough) to hear the choir, the incense, and a bunch of people getting together to sing and hope for peace. I cried last time. I’m not even Christian. Hope I can go this year.

    18. Gaia*

      I will start this with a disclaimer: When I was very young, we attended Catholic Church. I don’t remember anything about it, except the day we left. My mother had a major disagreement with something we were taught in the pre-school church class and she literally drug us out and we never went back. We attended no church after that – ever. My mother turned towards spiritualism a little Wicca here and there mixed with general Christian ideas. But she steadfastly did not discuss this with my sister and I – she wanted us to make up our own minds. Around Jr High we began going to youth groups but it was more for socializing. If you asked me then, I would say I was Christian and I believed. At a camp, I even went up and prayed for salvation. In my late teens/early 20s I began to question this in light of some really difficult personal times and a reevaluation of what felt true to me.

      I actually don’t know what I believe now and I haven’t for some time. If you asked me, I would say I don’t believe anything in the Bible is literal. I don’t believe the world was created in 7 days, that the world started with just two people (how does that even work? And if it did, who the heck was Cain afraid of, anyway?), the Flood, the Exodus, or any of the NT that isn’t backed up by historical fact including the resurrection story. None of it makes sense. I think they are (sometimes) nice moral tales and perhaps the people that wrote them thought they were being inspired by a god to write them. But I also question if what we have today is even remotely close to what they originally wrote: there is a lot of historical and political changes in there.

      And yet, something in me thinks maybe there is something out there. Maybe this isn’t random. Maybe we aren’t alone. I think that is more wistful hope than actual belief, though. I do know I am not Christian (or any major religion) and I find those faiths personally offensive. I would guess I am probably more spiritual than anything. Sometimes I feel the need to go to church and so I try lots of different services from different faiths where possible. I always leave disappointed.

      Interestingly, my mother is now turning back towards Catholicism. How the world changes…

    19. neverjaunty*

      Are you necessarily drawn to Christianity? There are many faiths that don’t follow some of the teachings you find problematic, and you can attend services or look into them without signing on to anything.

      1. Mazzy*

        That is true, but I spent a few years exploring other religions in the late 90s and I saw the same stuff happening in all of them. Not exactly the same, but different religions have their own versions of “bad seeds.” I saw sexism in other religions, I saw people using the house of worship as places to meet business contacts, and I saw people joining new age type groups partially to avoid adult life. I don’t want to dwell on the negatives, I’m just saying, you can avoid Christianity to avoid a not-great but known type of person, or have to be introduced to other types in different groups. No group will ever be perfect.

        And this isn’t a religion, but has a spiritual component, I go to AA meetings, and some people get really on track with the self-improvement and connecting with God or their version of God, and others come in wearing tight clothes or muscle shirts (if they’re a guy) and then you find out they’ve dated extensively in the group and are basically using it as a dating service, and they will never help a newcomer in need unless they’re goodlooking, they will only help a member of the opposite sex who is attractive. This is just an example of how there are going to be bad seeds in a group who aren’t going to be there for the group’s primary purpose. (it is really annoying by the way to hear someone talk about humility and connecting with God and then see them ignore the “uncool” recovering addicts who need help in favor of the “cool” people. It’s hard to explain on paper, but its obvious what is going on when you see the same folks in action every week)

    20. Older, Still Working On Getting Wiser*

      I, too, wanted to join a church. I’m an agnostic and a born skeptic, but I was attracted to the idea of a community of people gathered together to share their awe at the beauty of our planet, the creatures who inhabit it, relationships and love rather than money and materialism, altruism, sharing, and caring.

      But I could not get past the fact that just about every religion worships a male deity. Crudely put, I refuse to worship someone/something with a dick. I find it offensive (I’m a woman), and I believe it reinforces a harmful existing sexist paradigm in the U.S. and in other countries. I tried to overlook it, but I couldn’t. So I stopped going. It’s still a dilemma for me. I’m considering trying UU, which doesn’t seem to emphasize the “god” (read, “male god”) aspect of communal worship. I hope it’s for me. If it isn’t, I’ll be throwing in the towel on any attempt to connect with a spiritual community.

      Because, seriously, I refuse to worship a male god. Just can’t do it.

      1. Otter box*

        When I was looking for a humanist community I found an Ethical Society near me, and I ended up really liking it. Very similar to a UU church, but with less of the Christian-ish/churchy heritage on display. Aesthetically, it felt more like the little community churches I grew up attending, rather than fancy or formal Catholic/mainline Protestant churches that I never felt comfortable in. I went there for a couple of years until I moved away.

    21. Lady Jay*

      Good luck on your church decision! I wanted to suggest a book, since you seem to be struggling to reconcile your desire for (some) faith with your commitment to science and modernism. I don’t think that the divide between them is as great as we make it seem. One person whose voice on faith I’ve appreciated is Francis Spufford, in Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense. Spufford writes out of this place where he simultaneously believes what the church teaches, and knows that’s a really weird thing in the contemporary world; the book is an attempt to explain how the beliefs help make sense of our common experience as humanity. Maybe you’ll find it useful in “reframing” what the church teaches, putting it into contemporary lingo, and why such beliefs make sense to some of us.

    22. Temperance*

      For what it’s worth, I share a lot of the same feelings/opinions that you’ve described here, and I was raised evangelical. I’m an atheist now. I am uncomfortable with religious folks, too.

      What are you looking for that you think church might help with? This isn’t meant to be an attack, but a serious question. If it’s community, maybe UU would work for you? They don’t have a core theology, and supposedly atheists go as well. My friend who belongs loves it, but she identifies as Christian.

      1. Mazzy*

        Your comment made me want to say, I think it’s a trend now to think that the only thing church provides is a sense of community, because obviously anything supernatural is not real. Actually, alot of people don’t go for the community, they are going to get in touch with what the meaning of life is, where you go after we die, and to make sense of the Bible, since it does have some weird parts – from both a historical and moral part, and sometimes just to understand it in the first place, since not all of it is easy to read! And people in general want a sense of being connected to the universe and a higher power.

        1. Temperance*

          I actually don’t agree with this at all. I’m an atheist, and I am firmly in the minority as a person who is entirely secular. While I do not believe in God, or any form of higher power, most people are agnostic or religious. I dislike the comment that “people in general want a sense of being connected to the universe and a higher power”, because, well, that’s not universally true and leads to prejudice against secular folks.

          If you read my comment, I was asking Emily what she wanted from church, specifically because she doesn’t sound like a believer.

    23. a methodist*

      My family belonged to a close church community growing up (Methodist) in a small town where ecumenism was strong, so we interacted a lot with the other churches and the synagogue. It was a good way to grow up. I never had a great deal of faith and didn’t attend church for a long time as an adult until I went back home to live with my mother after my father died. Going to church and being active in church was part of my mother’s being and I attended with her. She had great faith, and I could not help but be impressed with that. I also realized how much the people of that church considered me family and how much their care for me as a child had helped me. I became more involved in the church because I realized it was trying to continue that tradition of care for subsequent generations and if I didn’t help it might not be there, or it might become something that wasn’t as positive as it had been in my life. Also, I realized I had talents and skills that they could use. I found that working with people who came from a place of faith was very rewarding. Starting a meeting with a prayer asking for guidance to make the right decision and then seeing people truly work toward an understanding of what was right (even if it wasn’t what they wanted) was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I learned a lot. As for being a skeptic, I am a highly trained scientist who has taught and researched evolutionary theory. My understanding is that science and religion are addressing very different aspects of life. They are not in opposition to one another or mutually exclusive. Even if you don’t have a great deal of faith, you can learn something by being around people of faith.

    24. Rosalind*

      If you are thinking Christian try finding a local church offering an Alpha series. It’s non denominational and while I’m attending one in my Catholic church with other born and raised Catholics its surprising how much of those same concerns are shared by those participating.

    25. OtterB*

      Raised Episcopalian, converted to Catholicism in college, was a lukewarm/semi-alienated Catholic for years, now much more engaged in my faith. (Which is not to say I don’t have issues with the Catholic church on occasion.) I agree with the people above who pointed out that even within the same denomination, individual churches can be radically different. For that matter, at my current parish (which I like a great deal) the “feel” is very different between different masses.

      I am also a scientist, married to an engineer. Neither of us find religion to conflict with science. If you feel you’re being told that you have to check your brain at the church door to go to church, try somewhere else.

      By all means, visit widely.

      I also recommend a book by Richard Foster on Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. It describes a number of different types of prayer. It was very helpful to me when I was trying to find a way into a richer spiritual life and couldn’t seem to find the right way. Answer: there are lots of right ways! You don’t have to reason out the one best way, you can follow the ways that call to you.

    26. Bryce*

      It can be tough to find the right fit, but if you feel it’s important to you then it’s worth doing. I’ve been looking for the right synagogue for 15 years now, my hometown one was a close-knit community in a small town that had to cater to everyone so it was kinda the Jewish version of Unitarian, at least to my limited understanding of them. So now in a city where I actually have a choice the Reform places are to loose, the Orthodox places aren’t loose enough, and on top of that it feels like I’m trying to replace my family. So I can’t offer a solution but I can offer commiseration.

      As far as reconciling religion and science, don’t let the fundamentalists control your view of how things need to be defined. There’s plenty of space for religion among science, they cover different areas. The difficulty comes when religion tries to do science’s job (or vice-versa, but that doesn’t come up much).

    27. Jean (just Jean)*

      Since I’m just coming off the holiday of Yom Kippur I’ll toss out the idea of exploring Judaism.
      TL;DR: Why not Judaism? In my experience it’s an interesting, enjoyable, and spiritually nourishing religion/culture. You could follow the suggestions for church-evaluating in a Jewish context. People with a background of Yiddish call it shul-shopping. (“Shul”, pronounced “shool,” means synagogue.)

      Longer discussion: The pros are that being Jewish involves both a religion and an ethnic identity. After some 5,700+ years there’s a lot of history, languages, cuisines and theological variations (from various flavors of Orthodox Judaism through Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform) from which to choose. Judaism has a body of beliefs but it’s also a religion of asking questions. Many authorities would say that the most important thing is not what you believe but whether you do your best to treat others the way you would want to be treated. The cons are that it’s both a religion and an ethnic identity–so some Jews by birth don’t understand why someone would want to become a Jew by choice and in some communities the Jews-by-choice may not feel fully accepted. There are also some complexities connected with the fact that some parts of the Jewish world do not recognize conversions that don’t happen within their particular subset of Jewish life. These are not impossible challenges (says the born Jew with no firsthand experience) but it’s good to be well informed and confident in your ability to find a comfortable community.

      As someone else said on this thread, there are other non-Christian religions: Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, and Baha’i. But the most important is for you to find a spiritual home that’s a good fit. Religion can offer support, connection, and challenges. If it induces anguish or anger or self-loathing, keep looking!

    28. Em*

      Lifelong Catholic though I set the bar pretty low on how often I actually attend Mass. Lots of interesting points made in these comments. My thoughts:
      (1) I like singing, and there were many years when the thing that brought me to church was the opportunity to sing the congregational songs.
      (2) This will vary WILDLY, but my church currently has an interesting priest who will often use the sermon to give us the historical context of what the reading was. It can be like listening to a university lecture. Plus he tells at least one joke every week.
      (3) I definitely don’t think that I believe the way that most other people in my church believe. However, I still find value in many of the teachings.
      (4) I think there’s a similarity and wonder (as in awe and mystery) between thinking about there being a God and thinking about the big bang (HOW can everything have come from nothing? What was before the big bang?) or about the universe being infinite.

    29. NotAPastor*

      Hi Emily –
      I’m not quite sure how to handle this. I’m a conservative evangelical that is trained as a pastor, although I’m not in vocational ministry, but you’re asking good questions and I’d like to help you if I can.
      You said:
      ‘I can’t pinpoint the exact reason, but it was probably a combination of meeting too many people who claim to be Christians who are awful people and hypocrites (including one religious studies teacher in high school who thankfully was only there for one term).’
      Yes, there are a lot of us who are guilty as charged. There are all sorts of terrible people in churches, and I’ve had the task of helping their victims (or them, if they are willing but that’s rare) try to work on stopping their hypocrisy or recovering from it. We are poor reflections of a loving and merciful Savior at times. The best I can tell you is that we aren’t supposed to be like that but we are because we are sinners and weak. Some churches tend to attract people who are very, very unhealthy or outright abusive. Not all Christians are Christian, unfortunately, which is something that Jesus talks about (Matthew 7:21).
      To make things harder I work in a scientific field (which I love) and I’m a skeptic by nature. Is it possible to reconcile all of this – along with my own morals and beliefs formed beyond religious teachings – with religion? Or would it necessitate a drastic shift in thinking?
      You’re asking the right questions here, and it depends on what church community you land in and what you decide you are going to decide to believe. The Unitarians or some of the very liberal Protestant denominations that made decisions long ago that they were not going to believe in the Bible or that things like evolution are correct and creation ex nihilo is not. I should warn you that Jesus is very exclusionary in what He teaches (cf. Matthew 16:24-28, John 14:6) if you decide to start reading the New Testament and take what He says at face value.
      As for the reconciliation part – there have been many people who were scientists or historians or journalists or whatever that set off to discredit and disprove Christianity but wound up becoming our strongest advocates. Orthodox Christianity is able to withstand all of those questions or objections if you’re committed to finding the truth. I’ve had to rework many of my beliefs as a result of following Christ, and it’s been painful at times, but when you try to hold two separate and conflicting beliefs, one of them must eventually give way to another. I can’t tell you how you will decide, but it is up to you, because you’re the one that has to live with those beliefs and defend them. You won’t come to those crises immediately but you will eventually.
      One other comment for you – Hebrews 12:6 says that “…without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” I don’t know your motivations or heart or even your real name, but if you’re serious about seeking God, then I’d recommend finding a church. I’d also recommend just about anything by Tim Keller as a way of getting your head back into the Bible or Christian Theology if that’s what you decide to do. If you aren’t sure what Bible version to buy – just about any of the mainstream translations are good (ESV is my favorite), but the NIV, NKJV, and NASB are all good. There’s more, of course, but those four are kind of my top 4 and are commonly available. The KJV is good, but can be very difficult to read if you aren’t steeped in it. You can find any of them in a decent bookstore or even download free versions from Amazon for your Kindle/iPad if you want.

      1. NotAPastor*

        We’re so flawed that we even forget to close HTML tags sometimes! Sorry about that! Here’s the updated text:
        I should warn you that Jesus is very exclusionary in what He teaches (cf. Matthew 16:24-28, John 14:6) if you decide to start reading the New Testament and take what He says at face value.

        As for the reconciliation part – there have been many people who were scientists or historians or journalists or whatever that set off to discredit and disprove Christianity but wound up becoming our strongest advocates. Orthodox Christianity is able to withstand all of those questions or objections if you’re committed to finding the truth. I’ve had to rework many of my beliefs as a result of following Christ, and it’s been painful at times, but when you try to hold two separate and conflicting beliefs, one of them must eventually give way to another. I can’t tell you how you will decide, but it is up to you, because you’re the one that has to live with those beliefs and defend them. You won’t come to those crises immediately but you will eventually.

        One other comment for you – Hebrews 12:6 says that “…without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” I don’t know your motivations or heart or even your real name, but if you’re serious about seeking God, then I’d recommend finding a church. I’d also recommend just about anything by Tim Keller as a way of getting your head back into the Bible or Christian Theology if that’s what you decide to do. If you aren’t sure what Bible version to buy – just about any of the mainstream translations are good (ESV is my favorite), but the NIV, NKJV, and NASB are all good. There’s more, of course, but those four are kind of my top 4 and are commonly available. The KJV is good, but can be very difficult to read if you aren’t steeped in it. You can find any of them in a decent bookstore or even download free versions from Amazon for your Kindle/iPad if you want.

      2. Temperance*

        I know that you don’t see it, but comments like this are exactly what pushes people away from Christianity.

        1. NotAPastor*

          Hi Temperance-

          I see your point, but I don’t know how I could speak any differently. I am, after all, trained as a minister.

          I don’t mean offense, but I have to act in accordance with what I believe to be true and speak accordingly. I would expect no less from the Jewish / Unitarian / Catholic / Presbyterian / Anglican / Pagan people on this thread.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            Okay, so here’s what I would have found frustrating by your comment when I was first exploring this (I converted in from another religion):

            You couldn’t resist saying you have to have belief, or implying that there is only one right way. That may be what you believe, but it’s arguably not helpful to someone trying to find their own way. I also notice you chose to say one thing about Jesus and it was to call him exclusionary! Wow! So what someone might take away from your comment is basically go big or go home. Believe this or don’t bother and hey you might not believe it now but you’ll see the light eventually.

            That gets a big fat nope from me.

            When I started exploring all this I met people who acknowledged that it’s not really likely that the world is just a big fat postcode lottery in which faith is an accident of birth, but simply that God wants people to know him if they can. When I started going to church, people mainly told me they were happy to answer questions. I don’t remember anyone telling me the stuff you’re saying and I would have noped right out of there if they had.

            I went to see the vicar before going to church as I wanted to ask a lot of questions like do you go at the advertised time and what do you wear. He said ah yes, it’s like going to a sushi bar for the first time isn’t it? He asked me a bunch of questions about myself. I asked if he grew up Christian or had any experience of coming to it later and he told me he became a Christian in his 20s after someone told him who Jesus was – and resisted the temptation to then tell me, but just encouraged me to try it out.

            It’s my personal experience that you’re better off not speaking. Wait. Hold your horses. Always remember you may be giving someone their first impression and you’ll always be giving them their most recent one. You don’t convince people by telling – not in any meaningful way.

    30. Mazzy*

      I definitely think its worth another go. I think faith dies with age, not so much because if the typical reasons cited (if you meet someone you deem hypocritical or if there is a scandal in some house of worship) but because adult life becomes mundane and you don’t feel any sense of the extraordinary or of feeling like something larger than yourself, and anything mystical or supernatural just seems so out of reach that it has to be unreal. Then people end up looking to the occasional ghost or demon hunter show on TLC to get their dose of the supernatural, but never really contemplate what is real or not, and what it all means. I think the lack of religion is why so many adults I know are obsessed with those type of ghost shows and horror movies – its their outlet into the supernatural world and part of their brain.

      1. Temperance*

        Eh, I watch those shows, as do many of my friends, because they are a.) mindless entertainment, b.) constantly on TV, and c.) mildly scary at times. I really disagree with your analysis here. It’s actually pretty offensive if you’re doubting other people’s belief system and adding these extra motivations that don’t exist.

        I first had my doubts about the validity of my parents’ religion when I was 8 and started thinking critically. I never had that “sense of the extraordinary” or whatever you cite here. I went along with the motions because I thought everyone else was doing the same.

        1. Mazzy*

          Wait how am I ” doubting other people’s belief system” I don’t even know where that is coming from or what it means. You also strongly disagree with my other comment that wasn’t an opinion but a trend I see in my large social circles and community, I’m a little confused how you can disagree when I’m literally writing out what other people do to see if the OP relates. It’s like if I said, “I’m going to work” and you said “I disagree!”

    31. Elizabeth West*

      I’m leaning more and more toward Buddhism as a way to meet my spiritual needs, without having to go to church (I’m not an atheist; I grew up Catholic and while I no longer attend church or practice Catholicism, I still believe in God). I don’t really need the fellowship of church, especially if I have to deal with the problems inherent in organized religion, many of which you’ve enumerated and that have driven me away from it.

      The beautiful thing is that I can practice alone. I don’t need to join a temple, although I am in a meditation group to learn about that, and we do discuss the teachings.

      If you’re looking for something inclusive and fairly liberal, I’ve heard that the Unitarian Universal Church is pretty good.

    32. Call Me Crazy*

      I’m at this point, too. If you happen to be looking for mainstream Protestant, I suggest giving Congregational and Methodist a try. The former has some “Open and Affirming” churches where people in the GLBTQIA family are welcomed with open arms. I’m also searching for a new church home…would try Unitarian Universalist myself, but not one around here. In some southern states, Disciples of Christ would be comparable to Congregational.

      Best wishes in your search.

  6. Some sort of Management Consultant*

    I had my gallbladder out a week and a half ago. I’ve been healing well but I’ve rarely been so tired in my life (not even after a pulmonary embolism!)

    I originally meant to go back to work after 5 days (I’m just mentioning it, work isn’t the point of my comment!) but I just couldn’t. Every time I was up for more than a few hours, I’d get a temperature.
    (And it was pretty much the worst timing ever to need an extra week off)

    And I’m SO bored.

    Exhausted and bored.

    /end rant.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Oh no. Hope you get better soon and get your energy back. Being so tired sounds so draining in itself!

    2. Fiennes*

      It took me a while to bounce back from my gallbladder removal, too. It’s a procedure some people recover from very quickly, which I think creates the expectation that it’s like that for everyone–which definitely isn’t the case. If your internal stitches don’t all hold perfectly, and/or you were very run down before the surgery, it can be a couple of weeks (or more) before you’re back in shape.

      Just be patient with yourself. Don’t rush it–that’s the best way to wind up relapsing. Maybe delve into a book series or marathon a tv show you’ve wanted to see, and try to embrace the free time as a gift you can give to both body and brain.

    3. Roly Poly Little Bat Faced Girl*

      I remember after having my gallbladder removed, just taking a shower exhausted me. So commiseration and please be gentle with yourself.

    4. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I had mine removed on 7/31. And YES to the tiredness. Sometimes, I’m just really tired for no reason. And that’s not me! Best of luck with recovery. My lesson learned was to NOT do anything with your core/core muscles. It’s very hard not to. Very hard! I ripped a muscle or tissue or something twice between my sternum and my belly button. One was just from coughing in the car. UGH. Don’t overdo it and you’ll heal up much quicker than I did with all the “ooops” I had.

      1. Some sort of Management Consultant*

        I just tried to shave my legs. Ouch!

        Pretty nervous about work tomorrow. Especially since we have a super hectic month with a major major deadline ahead of us, something that would’ve been challenging to me at the best of times.

        1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

          I couldn’t even open the glass door at work without an OUCH! My work was very understanding and I worked from home some, stood at my desk some when sitting was no bueno, and pretty much didn’t wear pants for 4 weeks (I live in Florida, loose dresses for those 4 weeks were my jam!). I am happy to say I’m a-ok now, and even traveled overseas with no issues. But when they say don’t lift anything for 6 weeks, they mean it! I learned what that meant…apparently even opening doors. Try to ease into it at work and hopefully they’ll be understanding even with the looming deadline.

          1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

            I bought a few flowly but still dressy pants with drawstrings last week.(they are oddly popular in Sweden at the moment) They are as comfortable as sweatpants but still ok to wear to wor. I can’t imagine wearing my normal dresspants. PAIN.

            Work is very understanding but it’s just such bad timing it’s not even funny. I’m a consultant (heh) and I’ve been at the current project for too long to bring anyone else in, especially with the looming deadline but there is too much work for them to manage without me. If that wasn’t the case, I would probably have lobbied for staying home another week.

            Even before this, we knew that October was gonna be a crazy month with lots of late nights. I’m REALLY not looking forward to that.

            1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

              Those pants sound great and comfy. Good luck with the project and listen to your body. I ratcheted down on the prescription pain meds and ended up taking ibuprofen (advil) when needed. The key is to stay ahead of the pain because those internal stitches will be uncomfortable for a while as your innards heal up. Raising up my arms (even for a tiny stretch while yawning) was not good. I felt like where they clipped off the ducts hurt the most until…it didn’t. Sending you all the quick healing vibes!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Watch or re-watch ALL of Stranger Things on Netflix before checking out Season 2 (comes out this month). And speedy recovery vibes! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      It took me a week to get back to work after having mine out. I did it over Thanksgiving break (had surgery that Wednesday) and was back at work the following Tuesday. But yes, I was VERY tired for at least another week. That’s major surgery! They fiddle around with your innards! I was really shocked that it was also outpatient surgery–they don’t even admit you unless they have to open you up or there are complications. Rest, rest, rest and if you still need the pain meds, take them. I tried to wean myself off them too soon (hated the side effects) and NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.

  7. Sara*

    Question for people who are experienced with eye makeup:
    1. how do you stop your mascara smudging on your lower eyelid?
    2. what’s the most effective way to remove eye makeup?

    I’ve only started experimenting recently, and while I like the way it looks I find those two problems make it rather cumbersome – and I only do the minimal stuff (liner + mascara). Surely given there are people who wear much heavier stuff on a regular basis there are tricks to make things easier?

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      I am a makeup addict! The first one is really mostly a matter of finding the right mascara for you. In my experience, cheaper mascaras almost always smudge. But some more expensive ones do too – Too Faced’s Better Than Sex mascara is very popular but it never dries on my lashes and always smudges horribly. I like Urban Decay’s new Troublemaker mascara, or their Perversion. My best friend, on whom almost all mascara smudge, wears their Cannonball and never has a problem. But really, I recommend trying on lots and finding one that works for you.

      I also recommend doing your eye makeup before foundation/concealer/powder so the mascara has time to dry before you add those products, but it sounds like that may not be an issue for you. Using a setting powder under the eye can help as that will stop the oils in your skin making your mascara smudge.

      The best eye makeup remover I have ever used is Clinique’s Take The Day Off. I have converted all my friends who use makeup to wearing it. Nothing else works nearly as well for me. It gets EVERYTHING, and is gentle enough not to sting my sensitive eyes.

      1. WellRed*

        I’m going ti Sephora today for eyeliner and was thinking if trying Urban Decay. Want something that stays on.

    2. Jemima Bond*

      1) No easy answers – I check often and try to have a cotton bud in my handbag if I’m wearing full makeup! Try waterproof mascara (even if that means using different products on your lower and upper lashes) and apply minimally. If your lashes aren’t really light, clear mascara on the lower lashes might be sufficient. Also try not to put mascara on straight after eye cream or a creamy under eye concealer; better if the area is non-greasy. A touch of powder may help.
      2) I find the best eye makeup removers are the clear oily ones – Clinique does a good one but if that’s not in your budget there are high street versions that do a good job. I’m in the UK – whatever the US equivalent of Boots would be a good place to start. Walgreens? If your eye makeup is really heavy duty; Vaseline.

    3. Rogue*

      1. Definitely agree with the others, you’re going to have to find a mascara that works for you. No suggestions other than that.

      2. I use neutrogena make up removing wipes and then wash my face as normal in the shower. Usually gets all my eye make up off. If I’m wearing super heavy eye make up, I may have to get a q-tip with liquid make up remover to get the last bits of stuff off of the skin next to my lash line and if I’m wearing liner on my waterline, sometimes I have to take a q tip, damp with water, and wipe the waterline to get that off.

    4. lcsa99*

      I’ve never had a problem with mascara smearing so I can’t help with that, but the best eye makeup remover I’ve found is Philosophy’s Just Release Me. You don’t have to scrub to get it all off just put a little on a cotton square and two or three swipes will get it all. And since you use so little each time, the bottle lasts forever.

    5. Courtney*

      I feel like I’ve tried every mascara out there, and for me the only ones that don’t end up doing this are tube mascaras. The formula they use is very different and shouldn’t smudge at all once dried, but is pretty easy to remove with warm water. Plus they’re great for added length. Definitely recommend giving one a try if you haven’t before! At the moment I’m using L’Oréal Double Extend because I blew my makeup budget on fancy new foundation, but if you google the term it should give you a bunch of examples.

      1. Reba*

        Yes tubing mascara!!! All other mascaras fall down on me, even waterproof.

        I have used a Boots one (available at Target in the US) and currently have a Clinique Lashpower Long Wear formula that I love.

      2. Dry Roasted*

        Agree!! All other mascaras end up smudged all under my eyes, even if I only apply to top lashes. Been wearing the L’Oréal double extend for years. I don’t use the white side, only the mascara. I also find it easy to remove. I don’t rub it at all. I get my fingers wet with hot water and then just hold my lashes. After about 10 seconds, I can just slide the “tubes” of mascara off. I don’t even need any kind of makeup remover.

    6. Call me St. Vincent*

      I second the rec for Neutrogena makeup removing wipes. I’ve tried other brand wipes and they always irritate my skin. Also tried cream and liquid removers to no avail, but I feel the Neutrogena wipes are far and away the best option.

      For mascara, try Dior Catwalk!

    7. Marillenbaum*

      I’m kind of old-school on makeup remover: I used Pond’s cold cream (lots of it), and a wet washcloth. It always melted my heavy stage makeup from when I used to do theater, and it works wonders for my much lighter everday makeup as well.

    8. anoncmntr*

      My solution is eye shadow primer (I like Tarte’s because it’s invisible) smeared on the eyelid and just below the eye, and waterproof mascara. It’s not perfect, but it helps a lot. I don’t know how people wear non-waterproof mascara on the regular, it just never works for me.

    9. KR*

      Setting spray for makeup helps me from getting too much makeup on my bottom lid. I do have to wipe it every couple of hours throughout the day usually.

    10. Parenthetically*

      I am a minimalist with makeup so the products I DO use I have to love. I use waterproof mascara because I have watery eyes most of the year, thanks allergies. I don’t have the money to spend 40 bucks on it, so I use Covergirl Lash Blast Volume in the orange tube and I love it.

      Coconut oil is the best makeup remover, and takes off even waterproof mascara easily. Just get a pea-size amount, rub it around on your closed eyes, then use a warm, barely damp washcloth to remove all the residue. It’s very satisfying!

      1. Julia*

        Coconut oil breaks some people out, so use with caution. Rubbing the eyes can cause wrinkles as well.

        How about a nice cleansing oil like Clinique’s or an offbrand one where you live? (Sorry, I live in Japan, so I have different brands here, but cleansing oil is super popular because everyone uses waterproof mascara etc. to survive the humid summers. Japanese mascara is great.)

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yes, I should have mentioned coconut oil isn’t for everyone. And obviously GENTLE rubbing is key.

          I just can’t see spending real money on some branded oil when I can buy a whole huge jar of coconut oil (or a bottle of olive oil) for under ten bucks, AND it has other uses besides makeup removal. To each his own!

          1. Julia*

            Cleansing oil can be cheap, and it has emulsifying properties, so it washes off clean much more easily than a pure oil.

    11. Monique*

      For me, part of it is application. I need to use a very light touch and go for multiple coats rather than having it pile on all at once. For non-smudge at Sephora, I love Benefit’s They’re Real for staying power. That stuff is like cement and it stays put through hot yoga. It does have a quirky brush that takes some practice. I also like Buxom’s just everyday black mascara. I can’t remember the actual name but the tube is black and just says “Buxom” on it.

      For remover, I like garnier miceller water. I wear full makeup every work day, and I don’t like wearing makeup to yoga, but I don’t like washing my face before yoga, only to come home and wash it again. It’s a waste of product and it makes my skin really dry. So I use the miceller water to take my makeup off, then I shower after yoga and wash my face properly. The miceller water is also good for weekends when I just stay home and do nothing. And it’s only like $8!!

    12. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’ve had the same problem and found Benefit’s Rollerball and They’re Real to have the least fallout on me (bonus -they come in brown!). For removing, Simple eye makeup remover wipes are good and convenient. I generally use Lancôme Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover. I find the key is to press the pad against my lashes for 15 seconds to soften the mascara and then it comes off easier.

    13. Anion*

      I use Shiseido products or Cetaphil to wash my face, but I often remove my eye make-up first with micellar water on a cotton pad. You can find it almost anywhere, it’s not expensive at all, it’s very gentle, and it removes make-up extremely well. (It’ll also take off all other make-up, so sometimes if I’m too lazy to wash my face I just remove all my make-up with it.

      What I like about it is that it doesn’t leave any residue and there’s nothing else to wipe off after the make-up is dissolved, like with cleansing oils etc. (I do oil cleanse once in a while, too, as well as using it as a moisturizer in winter.)

    14. special snowflake*

      What has always worked for me at least on under eye smudging is putting nothing there.
      My aunt was a news anchor and said the best tip she ever got from the makeup team was to only apply liner/mascara to the top lid. With the mascara blink your eyes rapidly for 10-15 seconds immediately after you finish each eye and just enough (literally a tiny tiny amount) will transfer to the bottom. This has the added bonus of not clumping up bottom lashes while you’re applying. Liner only ever goes on the top unless you’re adding a tiny bit to the outer corner for a cat eye or wing.
      I use a MAC mascara and Sephora liner (but only rarely on the liner because I’m not great at it!)

  8. caledonia*

    Something kind of fun (hopefully!):

    What’s the title of the current chapter of your life? (could be a quote, song/book title, anything)

    1. Red Reader*

      Well. I started this comment to say “A Semi-Charmed Kinda Life” – but I haven’t actually heard the song in ages, so I looked it up to be sure I remembered the name right and apparently the song is about a descent into the throes of crystal meth use, which is total news to me and about the opposite of what I was aiming for. (I’d have meant it in a positive manner, my everything is pretty amazing these days.)

      So my book is titled “My Story is Not Done” and the chapter of my 30s is “Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves,” both titles of best-beloved Seanan McGuire songs.

        1. Cruciatus*

          There are a few clues throughout the song, like “I took the hit that I was given then I bumped again, then I bumped again…” and “Taking sips of it through my nose…” But I totally get not always paying attention to what you’re actually singing. Had no idea what Hotel California was really about for a long time! Just thought it was a song about an unlucky traveler back when I was in high school…

    2. Myrin*

      “In the middle, in the air, without tethers”.
      (If that sounds both positive and negative to you, that’s because it is. I’m in a weird place in my life right now which I couldn’t describe as either good or bad.)

    3. SophieChotek*

      I feel like Les Miserables – “At the end of the day you’re another day older”

      Okay so my life isn’t as bad as the poor people in France in the 19th century, but I just feel like I am dragging myself along, waiting for change (trying to find a new job before I get laid off from the one I have but hate anyway)…

      Sorry do not mean to be depressing. Just been in a “down” place lately

    4. cornflower blue*

      “the murdering of minutes is my only crime”

      I am so exhausted between w-o-r-k and s-c-h-o-o-l, and seriously questioning the time it’s taking and what it’s costing me elsewhere in life.

    5. Bruce H.*

      The sun is the same, in a relative way, but [I’m] older,
      shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

  9. OLD*

    Dating thread! Single people of AAM who are looking to be less single, how are you doing?

    I’m in a very weird place where I both do and dont want to be seeing someone.

    I do because I really miss having someone around to just…touch. I realised a few years ago I’m actually a very touch-y person and miss having any kind of physical contact with people. Damn Western Europe and its lack of physical affection! Spending time with my Spanish friends reminded me how much more affectionate people there are.

    I dont because argh. People. I’m in a strange anti-social phase where the thing we dont talk about on weekends has been busy which means all I want to do in my free time is curl up in a blanket and watch bad TV.

    Online dating is hard for me because I’m not conventionally attractive, plus I’m picky (I know the type of person I’m attracted to) and so looking endlessly at profiles starts to feel like the most frustrating shopping experience where you know exactly what it is that you’re looking for and none of the stores seem to have it. I should probably make more effort to do other social things and just meet more people, but that feels like a bit too much effort at the moment.

    So generally, feeling pretty blah and a bit down.

    Anyone else having better luck?

    1. caledonia*

      I’m in a transition part of life – first was a new job, then finishing my degree and before the end of the year another move into the city – so I’ve only been halfheartedly looking but it’s not going well. Most of the people who message me either are not my type or can’t string a sentence together. The ones I message never reply back.

      I wish it was like how it used to be.

      1. OLD*

        Ugh, tell me about the messaging.

        I cant say much for how it used to be, but I definitely wish it was easier sometimes!

    2. single*

      I also miss being touched a great deal. When it reaches a certain point, I usually schedule a massage. It’s not the same thing obviously but it really help me feel better in a corporeal sense, like someone else can acknowledge my physical body, it reminds me somewhat of when you find a friend or a therapist who really listens to what you are saying, acknowledging your mind-life. It’s a non sexual massage just to be clear.

      1. OLD*

        Great minds think alike, because I’ve also been pondering a massage. It would also be a practical thing because I’ve got back/neck issues anyway, but definitely an added bonus would be feeding the touch starvation..

      2. Oryx*

        I was just going to recommend a massage — an old therapist of mine recommend that when I talked about being single and missing the touch portion of relationships.

    3. Marillenbaum*

      I can’t say I have–I got dumped back in August, and while I tried to get back out there, I realized I didn’t feel ready, and anyway the guy I started seeing ended up in a serious relationship with someone else (this is a recurring pattern). So I’ve decided to go back to therapy and work on some of my hurt/not trusting people issues. I also just don’t believe that the romantic side of my life will ever work out, so it’s hard to want to keep putting in effort for the inevitable breakup when they realize they don’t actually want to be with me.

      1. OLD*


        That sounds rough. I’m always a big advocate of working on yourself, so good to hear you’re going back to therapy! I sometimes wonder if tweaking my profile to come across as a bit ‘softer’ would help, but then I’m also like, thats…not really me? So motto of the story is hopefully we’ll both find people who actually want to be with us the way we are!

    4. Lily Evans*

      I’m in a pretty similar situation, actually. I’m trying online dating again after a break from it and it just sucks. I’m a bit apathetic about it to begin with, I’m at a point where I don’t mind being single but finding someone I really like would be a nice bonus, so to begin with I’m not putting in a ton of effort. It’s frustrating because the rare times I send messages I don’t seem to get replies and I’m very rarely interested in the people who send me messages. There’s so much misogyny and people who just want threesomes because I’m bi. Then so many of the messages are just straight up bad. And I’m also very picky, so that rules out a lot of options. Like I can’t stand beards but they’re all the rage right now. And I’m more attracted to women than men, but for every one non-straight woman there’s like 90 men. I think I just need to go out more.

      1. OLD*

        Ugh yes, completely feel you on the effort side. I’m the same in that in the grand scheme of things, I’m pretty happy single. But it would definitely be nice to have someone around sometimes! And I can only imagine how frustrating it must be in your situation as well. One of my friends is gay and we were having the same discussion about how when the pool of people is already that much smaller to start with, it just makes it that much harder to find someone you click with.

        Good luck on the going out more thing! I endorse it…from my couch…wrapped in blanket :’D

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        Dating as bi is so hard. I don’t think people understand how hard it is. I either get lesbians telling they’d never date a bi woman or men thinking my sexuality is sexy or that it means I’m up for a threesome.

        I’ve actually been going to a lot of bi meetup groups just to deal with the irritation of how people treat bi people. It’s nice to know that I can be around people who also understand the struggle, but I know I’m lucky to be in a city that has a huge bi population and a lot of resources for it.

        But I’ve had to exclude men from online dating apps when I want to date women because it’s like 98% men and after awhile they all sound the same. And a lot of the their profiles sound the same: “teaches me something new, smiles and laughs at my jokes, likes going out as much as staying in, gets along with my friends”. If I see those things one more time I’m going to scream, especially the part about smiling and laughing at jokes.

        1. Lily Evans*

          Your last point is so accurate. I swear you could take snippets from the profiles of 50 different straight men and pass them off as having been written by the same person. And every one you listed to me is a big “I want a woman to do all the emotional labor” red flag. I literally got a message from a man the other day comparing dating to real estate by saying I’d be less appealing the longer I stayed on the market and he wanted to put a “sold sign in my front yard.” Like what the actual effing year is it?

          I should look into bi meetup groups though! I never realized that was a thing, but I live in Boston so I’d bet there are some around me.

          1. all aboard the anon train*

            Oh, I’m in Boston too! The Bisexual Resource Center is an excellent resource and they have a calendar and a meetup group for monthly resource events, social events, book clubs, and other things. They’re well-rounded with their approach to different identities.

            But to your first point – I’ve found a lot of coded sentiments in how people fill out their profile. It’s a bit unsettling. I’m especially wary of any male profile who says something like “I’ll treat you right” or “I’m a nice guy” because that’s a huge red flag in my experience.

            1. Lily Evans*

              What a coincidence, I’ll have to look them up!

              And I have such a long mental list of things that are man-specific dating site red flags it’s ridiculous. The self-proclaimed “nice guys” are some of the worst, since just including that shows they’re already on the defensive about how they act.

    5. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I am definitely not having better luck. I just moved cross-country for a job that has me predominantly working from home, to a small town. How the heck do you meet people in this situation? I tried Bumble, and no one was on it. HER, and no one was on it. I am seeing one girl, but I think we are better off friends. The biggest and the realest struggle is that I hate dating (guys are tools, girls are catty) but I want to get married and have kids one day, so I have to keep climbing.

      I definitely feel you on wanting someone to touch!!!!!!!

      1. OLD*

        Oof. Definitely tough when you’re in a small town. I’m the opposite in that I actually enjoy dating because I like meeting new people, but even that is currently a struggle in my reasonably large city :/

        As you say though, just keep trying. Is there much in terms of social activities you can try to get involved in? I’m always of the belief that dating is just a numbers game, so basically casting as wide a net as possible both online and in RL to maximise the chances of meeting that person it will finally click with!

        1. SpiderLadyCEO*

          I am casting the net, but as much as I like having friends, I hate making them, haha. Going to every event they have that seems to have people my age who are still single sans kids. Spoiler: I’m finding people have kids or leave the city. It’s such a big problem the newspapers are covering it.

          You said you like dating because you meet new people – are you finding the dates you go on are enjoyable but not repeat worthy? Do you get friendships out of them?

          1. OLD*

            Haha, I hate making friends too! I also moved to a new city a year ago, and while I was lucky enough to meet a few lovely people within the first few weeks, I still definitely feel like my social circle isnt where I want it to be, hence why I’ll likely be back on the meetups in the next few weeks while work is quiet.

            Re: dating: yes, I’ve met some perfectly pleasant people on dates but where there is no spark at all so not worth repeating. In the past I’ve made some friends out of them (although new city is proving to be harder on that front) and I always state on my profile that if we click and there is no romantic spark, I’m super happy to just make a new friend out of it.

            Its funny because my approach – especially online – is that this is a medium to meet new people, so why not just meet someone and see how it goes (aka I have low expectations!). Lots of people seem put off by that for some reason!

            1. SpiderLadyCEO*

              I’m gonna put that in my profile, haha. But the last guy I told I wanted to be friends got SUPER RUDE….hopefully the girl I’m talking to right now will take it well, because we chat like besties but there is no romance – and I really, really want a local bestie!

    6. The IT Manager*

      After a flurry of online dating last November (4 dates with 2 different women in 4 days), I dated someone for 9 months. We just broke up. It’s too soon, but I think I’m going to go back to OKCupid. A friend is going on a date with someone she met through Tinder so I may give that a try although I’m not a visual person and don’t experience attraction on looks alone so that may not work.

      IMO online dating takes work and time. It’s not easy, but it does work for people.

      I’m all for the other options too, but I’m fairly active in activities I enjoy and I haven’t met a lot of potential dates that way; although, I have made some great friends.

      1. OLD*

        Good luck with OKCupid! And as long as you’re honest with yourself/any potential dates about what you want/are ready for, there’s no wrong or right time to start dating again. Plus on a shallow note, its always a nice ego boost to get a few likes and messages to help get over a break up!

        And as someone who has always avoided Tinder as well, multiple people have swayed me towards it recently. I’ve seen some profiles, and you can put a little blurb about yourself as well, so its not just pictures, so hopefully that will help you.

    7. Gaia*

      I’m single. I don’t actually know if I want a relationship. I’d like the companionship of someone but not the work because I have no time or patience for either.

      1. OLD*

        Hah. So much this. I had a great FWB situation some time ago which was so convenient. Every so often we’d see each other at the weekends and have this nice burst of someone who was genuinely interested in you and all the physical stuff too. And after that we’d say goodbye and go back to our own lives for another few weeks. Alas, moved countries, and have yet to find a suitable replacement.

        1. Gaia*

          That really seems to be what works best for me. We’re both clear on what we want, we live our own lives, there is no needy texting all day long and no hurt feelings.

          The last one ended when the fella broke a cardinal rule: he started dating someone else (not an issue) and it got serious (still not really a problem) but neglected to tell her about his habit of getting together with me every week or so (big problem). That introduced a level of distrust I cannot look past. I don’t require much out of a FWB situation, but I do require honesty.

          1. OLD*

            Oh boo. That is definitely a big no-no.

            And yes, I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about what I would like in a relationship over the last few months, and for me being reasonably independent is super important. Likewise clear communication, which apparently is a lot harder to find than I would have expected…

    8. Mischa*

      Sadly, I am not. I’m like you — I find physical touch comforting. I lost about 30 pounds this year. I felt great. Went to a grad school open bar last night and was still a wallflower. Never felt more deflated.

      I’m to the point where if it doesn’t happen, I don’t think it really ever will.

      1. OLD*

        :( *virtual hugs if wanted*

        Obviously this advice is only relevant if you want it, but the hardest part I find is to just keep going. Keep that mindset of ‘I feel great’ and I often turn it around into: “I’m great, and these people obviously didnt recognise that, so I’ll just keep trying until I find people that do!” It might sound a bit self-centred, but I find it aids the thick skin that is required for the long slog of dating..

    9. katamia*

      I just moved but am looking to date more than I was (I was living with family, and while I know I wouldn’t have had issues if I wanted to spend the night at someone’s house I just found the idea of dating while living with them too awkward). So I’m going to get more serious both about online dating and about doing other social activities where I can meet potential dates (not just to meet people to date, but things I’m interested in anyway). Gonna update my profile today (still says I’m in the wrong country) and figure out what I’ll have time for/what I’m most interested in doing over the next couple weeks.

      1. OLD*

        Exciting times! Good luck, I always find this the most fun part – a whole new world of possibilities out there :)

    10. Beaded Librarian*

      I totally understand the wanting touch thing. I’m not real touchy feely day to day but man I miss cuddling. I’m both interested in starting dating again and like I don’t want to deal with the work of trying to find someone I’m interested in, I guess I’m too lazy.

      1. OLD*

        Hah *high five*

        Definitely in the same boat. I’m sure I’ve seen some things about platonic cuddling groups. If they existed near me I suspect I would never even bother looking for a proper relationship..

    11. Monique*

      I’m right there with you. I’m ok with being single because I can run my life how I want but I miss spending time with someone, a guaranteed dinner date, the snuggly bits etc. Plus I just turned 38 and I feel like people look at me and are like “you’re single? What’s wrong with you?” As well, I don’t want kids (and I’m almost too old to start having them anyway) and it’s annoying to think I could have been married four times by now if I was willing to pop out a kid or two.

      1. OLD*

        Oh man, guaranteed dinner date! I just actually met someone, and while there was no romantic spark there, we are both big foodies, so hoping to turn them into my regular ‘try new restaurants’ buddy!

        And also with you on not wanting kids, so have some internet high fives for solidarity *high five*

    12. Meow meow*

      I’ve been single for 6 years and it is the worst. Wait, strike that, online dating is the worst. I’ve tried it at least once a year every year and it just makes me even more depressed. In pretty much every other aspect of my life I’m successful, so the fact that I have no one to go home to is like a empty hole in my heart. And lots of my friends are in relationships.

      In the last 6 years, I’ve probably met at least a thousand different men (through online dating, social events, being set up by friends, “putting myself out there”, etc). I know what I want, but the only men I’ve met that I am attracted to are already in serious relationships…

      It doesn’t help that I’m ambitious and in an extremely demanding field (think 80+hours a week, so I don’t have a lot of free time), and that intimidates a lot of men. and YES I have time for the right person.

      I miss touch. I agree with other commenters that massage is great for that, even though it just makes me sad–I have to pay to be touched :/ but I also have legitimate health issues where massage really helps.

      1. OLD*

        Online dating is the worst! And I say this as someone who uses it way too often, I sometimes feel like it brings out the worst in me in terms of being stupidly picky about everything.

        That sounds like a really tough spot. I think as you say, its just another example of the double standards in society, how does being a successful busy individual come off as intimidating?! To me thats a bonus because it means you probably have your life in order!

    13. Effie, who is herself, and is moving forward without self judgement*

      I’m not ready to date right now either (had an awful breakup in June) and I miss physical touch. I’ve been taking my time to get to know myself better and make sure that I’m giving myself everything I need before getting back out there.

      What’s helping a lot is going social dancing. I prefer a scene where socializing is not required, YMMV depending on your local scene. Basically it’s a low-cost way to get some mutual affection and spend time with fun people. I’m very lucky that my scene has a low tolerance for creeps and sexual harassment. I’ve met some cool people and there are a couple different nights that I know I can go out weekly if I want. It’s nice having something regular on my schedule, and I get my fill of socialization and platonic affectionate touch without the pressure that a speed-dating/singles meetup event might have.

    14. Oh so anon*

      I posted a few weeks ago asking for advice about whether it was possible to straddle the boundary between long-distance friendship and romance with my former partner (long story short: we split up because I moved for grad school, citizenship and niche job markets will make it very difficult, although maybe not impossible, for us to live in the same city in the future).

      Last weekend we had an unplanned heart-to-heart about how we still have a deep desire to be together and have a serious relationship, and tentatively explored what would need to happen in the next few months and years to make that possible. Former partner is currently in the middle of an international job search, but for various reasons is applying to more positions in my country these days. The ball is somewhat in their court as they would have to make the final decision about any job that they are offered (and its corresponding location), and accepting a long-term position in my country would mean living many thousands of miles from their family as well.

      I’m still single/we’re not “back together” at the moment, but I’m cautiously hopeful that this may work out. The weird limbo will persist until they get a job, hopefully in the next few months. Although it’s unconventional, I feel so much better about the situation now that we’ve talked about it. I know they still love me, talking to them brings me joy, and we communicate well about difficult stuff like this. Even if it doesn’t work out, I won’t regret investing an extra few months to see if there’s a chance we can pull off the near-impossible. We’re going to meet in November and I’m counting down the days. Even though I didn’t exactly follow anyone’s advice, I’m grateful for the community here for being a sounding board and pushing me to figure out what I want out of this situation.

      And also, solidarity to the other romantically struggling, touch-starved and/or fed-up-with-online-dating people out there <3 I was online dating for a few weeks in an attempt to distract myself or move on and …who boy…not fun. I'm taking a break from that for the time being, but best wishes to those of you who are trying it (it's how I met former partner, for the record :)

    15. HannahS*

      Yeah. Still very single. I tried the online thing (OK Cupid and JDate) and it didn’t work for me. I think it was a combination of being overwhelmed with messages from people who CLEARLY were just sending mass messages, and just not meeting the kind of person I liked.

      It’s partly a numbers thing–there are just so few Jews. And dating is exhausting. And now I don’t have time because I’m in medical school soooo I guess I’ll be single forever? I dunno. I’m keeping my eyes open and hopefully once I settle in to a rhythm I can spend some weekends aggressively socializing in the nearby Big City in the hopes of meeting people. But dang that sounds tiring.

      Oddly, I was really comforted when I remembered that if I don’t meet someone I like by the time I’m ready to have kids, I can have a child on my own. Like, physically, financially, I can make it happen. I mean, I’d prefer a husband, and TBH in all likelihood I’ll be able to find someone. But it just took away the anxiety of “but what if I can’t have a family???”

    16. Elizabeth West*

      No better luck here. :P I’ve lived here for 17 years and I have not dated one single person who lives here (I had one bf for two years, and he was from another state). There is NOBODY. I’m disgusted as hell. I need to leave. Online dating is out–I tried it and didn’t find anyone that way either, because there is nobody here.

      And I hear you about the touch thing. If I wanted to, I could probably go sit in a bar and pull a warm body, but it would likely not be a great one. A massage, as other people have suggested, sounds really good, actually. But I can’t afford it right now. If the universe doesn’t get its butt in gear (I poked it pretty hard), I don’t know what I’m going to do. Maybe lose it!

    17. Mela*

      Not single, but am currently dating (polyamorous)

      I’m in two relationships right now, and am still actively dating. It works for me and that’s what I want. (Gotta plug OkCupid, it’s the best!)

      But for what you’re looking for, I’d suggest looking into a couple of things. Relationship Anarchy is a form of non-monogamy that maintains that relationships, romantic or not, sexual or not, can all equally be important. These are the types of people that have great friends who they cuddle and fall asleep with, and never anything else. Friends with benefits, casual lovers, etc. Any configuration is possible.

      Another thing to look into and see if your area has is Cuddle Parties. It’s sort of more geared to practicing consent, but is also a great place to get cuddles!

    18. Call Me Crazy*

      Recently broke up with a fellow after a 7 1/2 year relationship…met on a blind date. I miss the close contact, too, but am lucky to have good friends who are great huggers, so that helps somewhat.

      I tend to be a homebody, so have to push myself to get out and do stuff….and never regret it. I attend a singles dance monthly (a few couples who met there married), hike, shoot pool (either on my own or with my adult kids), travel, and such. I would love to go skeet shooting, but figure it might aggravate an old shoulder injury. Volunteer, go to farmer’s markets, festivals, etc. Tried the online dating thing, but just not me. Nice chatting with people online, but never turned into even one actual date, so rather depressing after the expense.

  10. Soapy*

    My husband and I will hopefully (finally!) be closing on a home we love in the next couple weeks. We are nervous and excited but we both agree the place is worth surviving the process of closing on a co-op. 
    One of the things I am excited about is that this place actually has a dishwasher. I have had one on and off throughout my life so I know how convenient it can be. My husband, however, is a little uncertain. The only real exposure he has had to dishwashers is the one his mother has, that is mostly collecting dust, and the crappy one I had in an apartment when we were dating. Every time he’s (at least knowingly) used dishes out of one he’s complained that everything tastes like the soap. So he is understandably reluctant. 
    So my question is, has anyone else experienced the issue my husband is having – being able to taste the soap? How were you able to work around it? And are there brands of soap that are better to use in this case (or ones we should absolutely avoid)?

    1. Red Reader*

      Use less soap, maybe? I’ve used a zillion brands and never had a soap tasting problem from any of them, but I also use about a quarter of the amount they recommend. In my experience, with just about any detergent, a little goes a long way and the directions on the bottles frequently suggest like two or three times more than you actually need. I did an experiment in college with laundry soap – after washing a small load of clothes in the recommended amount of detergent, it took six plain water only trips through the washer before they stopped emitting soap residue into the water. Yack.

    2. Courtney*

      I’ve never had this issue, but we’re lazy and use the Cascada gel packets instead of actually measuring out soap. They work well though!

    3. SophieChotek*

      Also it could be an issue with the dishwasher itself if the it tastes like soap – not rinsing things well enough. Which based on the dishwashers you described, could be possible. I have a crappy dishwasher in my apartment – I quit using it after I could tell it was not actually doing a very good job cleaning things and dishes were soaking wet after I ran the entire cycle. i did jut realize since I never use it I could store pots and pans in there…hmmm…

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I haven’t lived in places with hard water, but I know if your water is hard it may not rinse soap off very well at all. As in, there may almost always be a bit of a soap film. Could that have been causing his issue? If you feel like your hands don’t rinse off very easily at home when you wash them, look into getting a water softener. Or newer dishwashers probably have extended rinse cycles, that might also help, especially if you have it heat the water with a “sterilizing rinse” cycle, as the really hot water would probably do a better job.

      Even back in the 80s, when my parents first got a dishwasher, I had never heard of dishes or silverware tasting soapy, and that’s probably because I grew up in NYC, where the water is really well balanced.

    5. Temperance*

      I have literally never had this issue.

      I use the detergent “packs”, and they work best for us. TBH, I feel like a dishwasher does a way better job than a human ever could. The water is hotter and things are just cleaner.

    6. Cookie D'oh*

      I use those dishwasher pods instead of liquid or powder. There’s a lot of tips online about how to clean a dishwasher. I recall most of them running it empty with vinegar. Maybe run a cleaning cycle once before using it.

    7. cornflower blue*

      Each time I’ve had problems with dish cleanliness, the solution was never about the dishwasher itself. First we got a whole-house filter to deal with the insane amounts of chlorine in our water, then we had neglected to clean the filter screen, and finally the dishwasher sensor board fried during a storm and we got a surge protector.

    8. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Definitely run a clean cycle before you use it and then regularly. You can buy cleaning tabs at the store with the dishwasher detergent (I get it at Target).

    9. Gingerblue*

      I had rinsing issues with the crummy old dishwasher that was initially in an apartment I had. (They replaced it shortly after I moved in; yay!) The soap I was using didn’t help either–some wash off better than others. I recommend the gel pack kind (I like the Cascade Platinum, and Target’s house brand equivalent works well) and using a rinsing agent if your soap doesn’t include one, and second the suggestions to clean the dishwasher occasionally. I’ve had no luck with the more earth-friendly soap brands, alas; they don’t work well and don’t rinse off well.

      If there’s a food trap that you can open, make sure to clean it out too.

  11. DanaScully*

    Is anyone else here diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) AKA Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? I would be interested to hear your stories as I was diagnosed earlier this year.

    1. Book Lover*

      I am sorry, I know you are looking for personal stories. This might help, though? It is from the NIH, they tried to rebrand as systemic exertional intolerance. It is pretty readable. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK274235/

      I am sure there are forums, probably a question of trying the different names and finding like minde people.

    2. Anonn*

      I was just diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which I understand may be related? I’d be happy to share if you think it would be helpful.

    3. Mela*

      I’d thought I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for years and was finally diagnosed with fibro. I asked the rheumatologist about CFS because I fit the diagnostic criteria for it as well. He literally waved his hand and said they’re both really the same thing. And for me, they kind of are. Like Anonn says, if you want to hear from fibro people, let me know! Seconding The Mighty

    4. DanaScully*

      Thank you for your replies. I do read The Mighty and I find it really useful to know I’m not alone in feeling the way I do. They have great tips and advice for managing day to day life also.

      I really just wondered (out of curiosity) whether anyone here had a diagnosis too. I’m definitely up for hearing stories if anyone is up for sharing. Fibro and ME symptoms definitely overlap and I’m wondering whether I have Fibro myself as I’m dealing with quite a lot of pain. My other half has just procured me some crutches which I think will be a big help. I just need to get past my internal embarrassment and anxiety to use them on the days I’m struggling.

  12. H.C.*

    Red eyeing my way to Kansas City right now for a long weekend/mini vacation – recs for to dos, to eats, to drinks & to sees welcomed!

    1. SophieChotek*

      World War I museum. It’s is great! I have only been once but I would totally go again. Do see the murals in the separate little part. The architecture of the building itself is interesting too.

    2. Mischa*

      Seconding the WWI museum. I used to intern there. It’s such a great museum.

      I’m a KC native, so here are my recommendations:

      To do:
      -WWI Museum

      -Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. I especially recommend the Bloch galeries, full of impressionist paintings reopened last spring. They are exquisite. The museum is free.

      -River Market (KC’s oldest farmers market). Parking can be tough, but we now have a free streetcar (!!) so I recommend parking near the WWI memorial and taking the streetcar north to the market. Most street parking is free anywhere downtown, with a few exceptions. There is a divine middle eastern restaurant in River Market, plus this fantastic coffee shop called Quay. So good.

      -Shopping on the Plaza or Brookside. Mostly chain stores now sadly, but it’s a gorgeous area and is one of the oldest outdoor malls in the country.

      -Loose Park (51st and Wornall) is one of the prettiest parks in KC. Plus there is a civil war battle site there.

      -Boulevard Brewery tour (25th and Southwest Blvd). Even if you don’t drink, it’s super cool. If you do drink, you get some free samples in their beer garden.

      -College Basketball Experience at Sprint Center + Power and Light (14th and Grand). Personally, I’m not a fan of P&L — nothing there is local, but it’s popular and helped revitalize downtown.

      -Tom’s Town Distillery (17th and Main). Microdistillery that makes their own vodka, gin, and bourbon. Seriously the best liquor I’ve ever had. The cocktails are great and the vibe is super laid back. It’s like stepping into a speakeasy.

      -Manifesto (an actual speakeasy, super hipster, but really fun). It’s in the basement of the Reiger Hotel. You’ll need a reservation.

      -KC Bier Co in the Crossroads – the Dunkel is my favorite!

      KC has an amazing coffee culture. I recommend places like Second Best (a bit south at 84th and Wornall), Quay (4th and Delaware), Monarch (Knickerbocker and Broadway) and Parisi (Union Station or out south in Leawood).

      Of course, BARBECUE. So many great places. There are the classics, like Jack Stack, but I really love Rosedale BBQ, and have heard great things about LC’s, Q39 and Woodyard.

      Also, the Grunauer (Austrian food) is probably my favorite restaurant in town at the moment.

      Please let me know if you have any questions!! KC is a fantastic town. I love it so much.

      1. Mischa*

        Oh, some other food recs!

        Westside Local (17th and Summit), farm fresh American food. Divine.

        Chez Elle (17th and Summit), sweet little crepe place. Lobster bisque is great.

        Affäre (17th and Main, I think), fancy German food.

        Krokstrom (Knickerbocker and Broadway), delightfully good Swedish/Scandinavian food.

        You Say Tomato (28th and Holmes), little hole in the wall brunch/breakfast joint but it is SO good.

        You really can’t go wrong with most places in the Crossroads, River Market, Waldo or Brookside. Where will you be staying?

      2. Kristen*

        I’m not from Kansas City, but visited for a baseball game last summer and I must second Q39. We loved it! I had an awesome burnt ends sandwich (Mr. Burns if I recall correctly). Doubly awesome because it’s a bbq place that takes reservations rather than requiring you to stand in a line that wraps around the building.

    3. Anono-me*

      I have visited KC several times and plan to in the future.

      I agree, the WW1 museum is incredible. We spent an afternoon there on our fist visit. Two days on our second visit and will probably budget a full day on our next trips. If you are okay with heights, the view from the tower is gorgeous. Thers is also a really cool historic train depot across the street.

      I enjoyed touring Hallmark, the Nelson Adkins Museum has wonderful exhibit and World of Fun is great regional amusement park

      If you are interested in nearby attractions, the Truman Presidential library and museum is in Independence Mo. I had the best burnt ends that I have ever had at a restaurant just across the street . It is called ‘A Little BBQ Place.

    4. Becky*

      This is just curiosity not really an answer to your question–when people say they are going to “Kansas City” does it specifically refer to one of the two cities in Missouri and Kansas, or does it just refer to the whole area no matter which state it happens to be in?

      1. Mischa*

        Whole area, typically. I grew up on the Kansas side, and still live there. If someone from Boston asks where I am from, I just say KC.

        Some people here get REALLY tetchy about saying “oh, you’re not from KC, you’re from Lee’s Summit.” But really, it’s just KC if you’re in the metropolitan area.

      2. Mal the College Student(Again)*

        I would say if you’re a local talking to a local, you would say where you lived – KCK(Kansas City, KS) KCMO(Kansas City, MO) or suburb or neighborhood specific like Leawood, Lenexa, Olathe, Roeland Park, Mission, Mission Hills(all on the Kansas side) or Brookside, North KC, The Northland(this is more a general area north of downtown but on the MO side), Lee’s Summit, Waldo, the Plaza(all on the Missouri side)
        But I don’t bother telling non-locals or friend’s back home where I live. They already don’t understand flyover states lol! I just say Kansas City, Missouri(I do say the state because we used to live in north central Kansas before moving to the suburbs on the Kansas side of Kansas City and then finally buying a house in the suburbs of KCMO, not that that isn’t confusing or anything!)
        We also used to live on the Kansas side of KC that was only 2 miles from the state line, so we actually frequently shopped in Missouri, because Kansas has a higher sales tax and the liquor laws are screwy in KS.
        I will say though that there are more attractions on the MO side, so if a tourist is coming to Kansas City, they’re likely staying in MO. The Kansas side is more businesses and suburbs IMO. Still great! But not as likely to have tourists. Unless you’re visiting Ikea, which is right in the center of the KS side suburbs(all the heart eye emojis haha!)

    5. Effie, who is herself, and is moving forward without self judgement*

      They have delicious cupcakes at Smallcakes!

      Also, this is kind of out there, I tried a Polga (pole yoga) class at Stiletto Gym and it was a lot of fun!

    6. H.C.*

      Thanks so much for the recs so far – currently digging the jazz scene @ Green Lady Lounge. We also did Joe’s for lunch & planning Q39 now tomorrow.

    7. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I’m too late but I can’t believe nobody has mentioned the Negro League Museum and American Jazz Museum (they are attached)! And just down the street, Arthur Bryant’s for burnt ends.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I was born in KC MO but I haven’t lived there since I was seven. I’m convinced if my parents hadn’t decided to move back to my mum’s hometown of Mayberry (not its real name), my life would have been WAAAAAAAAAAAY different.
      Come to think of it, I need to ask her what the f was up with that.

  13. Jessen*

    So! I have a little mini “staycation” with the house all to myself. I’m just not really sure what to do with it. I’m still on night shift schedule, so there’s not a whole lot to do around where I am – by the time I’m up and dressed and the coffee’s gotten through my system, everything fun is either closed or about to close. Except maybe the movies, but honestly I don’t want to go to those anyway. I’m not exactly rural, but not exactly in a major city. More like a big, somewhat expensive chunk of suburbia.

    Any suggestions for things to occupy myself for a few days would be appreciated!

    1. WellRed*

      Is there any sort of local atttaction or museum? Movie? A nice meal in a new or favorite place is one of my personal faves.

      1. Jessen*

        See the night shift issue. They’re there, but they’re opening when I need to go to bed and closing by the time I’m up and ready for the day.

    2. SophieChotek*

      Are there any late night clubs or improv shows? Or local theaters? (Even college/local community theater)? Most shows start at 7-8pm. And a friend of mine is an in improv troupe and their show does not start until 10pm.

      Or…gaming groups or other types of meet-ups? There is a pub trivia that meets near me – they start at 7 and usually end at 9pm.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I second this. I see a number of comedy/show options in my city (maybe not a suburb option) that I’d love to go to but they start too late for this day shifter. Dance parties and musical performances too.

        I see these announcements on Facebook so I think it’s a matter of finding the places that have later shows and looking at their schedule.

      2. Jessen*

        Eh, I mean, I’m usually getting up around 6pm or so. So 8pm would probably be the earliest I could get to something, and there’s not a lot around here that starts then that I’d actually want to go to.

    3. Home alone!*

      I second the recommendation for a nice meal (this can be breakfast too–a popular weekend brunch place near me has great weekday breakfast with no wait). Elaborate cooking projects that would be annoying with someone else in your hair can also be fun.

      Otherwise, I tend to spend my house-to-myself time eating junk food my husband hates (cheese balls!!!!), watching TV shows I’m the only one watching, and maybe tackling some kind of organizational project I want to have a few days to get right. Not necessarily a big party, but honestly, just having the house to myself is awesome enough to compensate.

    4. The IT Manager*

      If you were like me you might have thought if this already, but reading. For something like this I’d pick up a few books that I plan to read over my stay-cation. I also might read in unusual places – coffee shop, a park.

      Watch the sunrise from a scenic location.

      1. Jessen*

        Early evening is usually when I’m getting up – and when I have to do things. I’m really trying to figure out what I can do with the rest of my night.

  14. KitCroupier*

    So I signed up to be in the student showcase for friends and family at my aerial studio. I started there mid-October of last year and the performance is the first Saturday of November. I’ll be doing an aerial hoop (lyra) combined with hula hoop for my own routine.

    Can I say I’m pretty darn terrified? I used to do piano recitals as a kid and I really didn’t like them. I was super shy and was nervous every time. I keep flashing back to those days.

    My song’s only about 3 minutes long, but I need to choreograph it and figure out how to work hula hooping tricks (and figure out what to do when I inevitably DROP the hoop) and costuming and… argh! Plus performing is NOT my thing? But I feel like I’ve grown so much in the time I’ve started going that I need to do this.

    Ugh. I just hope I can pull this off!

    1. MommaCat*

      Once you’ve figured out your routine, practice it enough that your body knows it better than your brain. That way you’ll be able to perform even if your brain is freaking out. Body memory is awesome!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        As a skater (formerly), I second this. I’ve had brain farts in the middle of a program but improvised until I got back on track–my body remembered what it was supposed to be doing!

    2. Dr. Vanessa Poseidon*

      How exciting!

      I did my first aerial performance (static trapeze) in May, after about a year and a half of weekly lessons. I’m an anxious person and not a natural performer, so I felt a lot like you. But it ended up being a really good experience! It was a good way to engage with the art in a way that’s different than normal lessons, be creative, and feel proud of the things I had worked hard to learn.

      Some of the things that helped me feel more confident were getting the choreography set as early as possible so I had plenty of time to practice the whole act and smooth out transitions, not including any tricks that I had only just mastered or felt nervous about, and putting the hardest tricks early in the act.

      Good luck — I hope you have fun!

    3. Effie, who is herself, and is moving forward without self judgement*

      How exciting!

      Don’t knock yourself, three minutes is long when you’re performing, especially if it’s a solo!

      When I choreograph a piece, I like choreographing/practicing after class – that way I know I can do the moves even when I’m already tired. I feel like muscle fatigue after working out mimics any muscle trembling you may have from stage fright/nervousness.

      Also, I recommend working out a few spots in your piece where you can “rest” – maybe a hold you’re comfortable in, or a place where you stand and do body rolls, etc. Or maybe your transition from hoop-to-hoop?

      If you’re worried about dropping your hula hoop, practice dropping it and finding ways to pick it back up/get it back to where you need! That way the recovery options are already in your body so if it happens live, your body can take over :)

      Hope this helps! You’re going to have so much fun and be so proud of yourself.

    4. Ann O.*

      I am an aerial instructor. What I always try to get students to remember when preparing for a showcase is that everyone in the audience is already on your side and wants you to do well. They don’t care if you make a mistake as long as you keep going. If you drop your hula hoop, just stay calm, pick it back up, and restart. Smile if that fits the mood of your routine.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yep yep yep. Skating, too. I never ever heard an audience laugh at a skater who fell, or say anything other than a small sympathetic “Ooooouuuch,” if it was a particularly hard fall. They only cared that the skater was okay.

  15. Laura*

    Mentions work in passing.

    I’m super sad that a restaurant I’ve been frequenting for almost 3 years is shuttering. It’s the only place that serves breakfast that’s in walking distance of where I work. I’m hoping the employees find jobs quickly. But hopefully I’ll be able to go on Sunday and spend my last dollar and change on my gift card and say thank you to the people there. (It’s the only location in the area, so I either spend it or kinda lose it.) But the question is… what do I get as a “last meal”?

    Prolly a half soup half salad for eat there(there’s a combo) and maybe a half my fave sandwich for dinner after work.

    Then I need to see if I can close my rewards account and possibly see about getting my data purged from the company’s system…

    I’m just bummed but at least I have a plan.

    1. Laura*

      Well. Went in today. Got my fave sandwich. If I go in tomorrow, I’ll just get a hot tea prolly.

      It was good. But a bittersweet farewell.

  16. Red*

    Wonderful people of aam, I’m hoping you have some ideas. I have a wedding to go to next weekend, knee length dresses, and a nasty almost-scar thing on my calf. It’s bright pink and totally visible through opaque nylons (which, by the way, feel awful to wear). Is there a way to cover it up? I was sort of thinking I could put a bandage over it, but my skin really dislikes adhesive…

    1. MommaCat*

      Maybe makeup? For a while I had white clown makeup that I would blend with a liquid foundation to cover hickies; the clown makeup both made the foundation stick better than a regular concealer and made it match my skin tone (my liquid foundations always came from my grandmother and were a couple shades too dark). The clown makeup was cheap Halloween stuff. If you go with a regular concealer, make sure it’s oil-based. Or you could get cool patterned tights to break up the look of the scar.

    2. SophieChotek*

      Is there any sort of ‘cover make-up’ for this sort of thing? It seems like there would be. Not sure if that would feel worse than a bandage…

    3. Grits McGee*

      I’m pretty sure there are a couple make up products that are designed to cover scars. I think Dermablend makes some concealers specifically for non-face regions, and I’ve had good luck with their products so far.

      Slightly off topic- did you know that Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira) burned 30% of her body when she was a young girl? She was one of the youngest showgirls in Vegas in the late 60s/early 70s, and she would spend 2 hours before each show covering her burn scars with makeup.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Ben Nye and Dermablend brands of makeup. Ben Nye is stage makeup, so it has to stand up to sweating under stage lights, and Dermablend is designed to cover scars and tattoos.

    5. Legs for days*

      Sally Hansen makes a spray-on “stockings” product that might be useful here, either on its own or in combo with (on top of?) the scar-specific options suggested above.

    6. Fiennes*

      Are the dresses the only options? If you have an outfit that looks dressy enough with pants or a jumpsuit, IMO you could go with that. You’d want to glam up the jewelry, hair, etc to make it clear you were still treating the occasion as special–but it’s possible.

      1. Artemesia*

        I wore silk loose slacks with a nice top to my son’s wedding; it was an outdoor wedding, but they were perfect and something like that takes care of your problem.

    7. Call me St. Vincent*

      You can also try to rent a longer dress from Rent the Runway? I use them for literally every wedding/event.

    8. Bird*

      There’s a spray-on tattoo cover body makeup called Bairly Sheer. I use it to cover a scar on the back of my leg. There are several shades to choose from, and I have the two closest match on hand to ensure a seamless camouflage. It’s high-density, and covers my scar when I wear shorts or skirts. I think it will be more than adequate, especially since you’ll wear stockings on top of it. There’s also an accompanying setting powder and setting spray.


    9. Becky*

      Would something more on the side of tights rather than nylons work? Not sure it would go with the look you want.

  17. Wrench Turner*

    We have a problem with sketchy house flippers in our area, and at community meetings folks from the county government are always repeating ‘if you see construction work without a permit, report it!” etc. So the years-vacant house next door got sold finally to a flipper who came out and started major demolition and rebuild -of course without permits. I warn the guy and his crew, hey, you got to get permits for this or the county will come down on you. They say thanks and keep working. Weeks pass, no permits, and the rebuild looks really shoddy. So I took a couple pictures of the work standing in my yard (they’re right next door, after all), and reported them.

    Soon STOP WORK orders are slapped on the door and inspectors are all over the place. They come by every few days, the crew tries to work in the evening and weekends to get around them, which we tell the inspectors that are now knocking on my door, too. Work stops for weeks, and the house looks worse than ever – the yard is waist high plants, debris everywhere, siding falling off. I’m a lazy homeowner myself, but seriously guys. I assume the project has been abandoned, again.

    One day it looks like permits have gone up, and a woman is in their front yard taking pictures. Standing in my yard, I ask if she’s the new owner, and she says she’s the wife of the flipper, assessing what needs to be done. I say ok and walk off to do something else. 30 seconds of professional polite interaction and I don’t think anything more about it.

    Now the flipper says I’m harassing and spying on him with the pictures, trying to cause him harm with the county folks for reporting him (which the county said you’re supposed to do!), and threatened legal action. All I wanted was permits done for the major work I’d have to live next door to (gods forbid shoddy work burns down or something). Darned if you do, etc. Joys of home ownership.

      1. fposte*

        Seriously. Reminds me of the internet annoyance who was going to sue me years ago, and insisted I start the process with my lawyer. Apparently I was supposed to sue myself for him.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          wth. Was he going to sue you for being kind and fair-minded? Poor guy, he really does not understand law at all.

      2. Wrench Turner*

        I thought the same thing. He got permits up, which is all I wanted out of it. Hopefully the house flips quick and he moves on. I’ve already cleaned up vandalism and litter at the property when it was sitting vacant before, I just want someone to live there.

    1. Temperance*

      I’d just like to point out that his threat to sue you for reporting his malfeasance is absolutely ridiculous. I might even cue the township in to the fact that he’s threatening you. ;)

      1. Wrench Turner*

        At the next town meeting I am. He sent it to me in a text message because I gave him my number when we first met, in case he needed anything. Good neighbor, etc. Oh well. I just hope the house sells and doesn’t burn down.

    2. Observer*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. What’s he going to tell the court? That you took a picture of work going on out in the street? That you reported illegal work going on in front of your nose? It’s a joke.

  18. Dr. KMnO4*

    TL;DR – Carol Dweck’s work on mindset may be applicable in more fields than just education.

    Yesterday’s discussions around the letter from the person whose coworker used the r-word reminded me strongly of a concept I’d learned about in grad school but hadn’t connected more broadly to the world. There was a comment that stood out so strongly in my mind, someone asking what word they ought to use to insult someone, and there was some discussion around the word “stupid” and perhaps not insulting people.

    It all reminded me so strongly of Carol Dweck’s work on mindset. In an education context it is could be broadly described as students who believe that intelligence is a static trait (fixed mindset), and students who believe that intelligence is more malleable (growth mindset). Not surprisingly, students with a growth mindset tend to do better in school.

    Some of Dweck’s work was on morality in small children, do they think “goodness” is static and innate or something that can change. I hadn’t really connected it to adults until now. But when I hear comments like, “They are stupid”, or, “They are an a*hole”, I get upset. To me, what the commenter is saying is that the person is fundamentally flawed and could not change that. Perhaps that’s not exactly what they meant, at least not on the surface. But we all have unconscious beliefs that influence our thoughts and feelings and “they are…” phrasing makes me think that a fixed mindset is driving those comments.

    I can only speak about what I see in US culture, but I think that this mindset idea underlies some serious issues. Certainly in education, students with a fixed mindset are afraid of challenges and don’t like to take risks, which hampers learning. But it goes further than that. If you think that morality is innate and can’t be changed, then criminals are bad people and won’t be able to change their ways, so why bother with rehabilitation? I’m reminded of the recent letter with the woman who stole the jacket from the intern, and may have stolen the intern’s credit card as well. The letter writer was adamant that her friend was a good person, and seemed to be having difficulty reconciling her beliefs about her friend with her friend’s actions.

    Anyways, just some thoughts that had been percolating. I didn’t mean for this post to be so long. If you’re interested in Dweck’s work she has a really good book that’s written for a general audience (less psych jargon, more practical applications) called “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”.

    1. dear liza dear liza*

      I’m a big fan of Dweck’s work and agree, it’s useful in many situations. An example: the whole “introverted/extroverted” dynamic. People will cite being an introvert as a reason for doing/not doing something they are supposed to do. My brother was actually arguing he couldn’t take a particular position at his workplace because he’s an introvert and it’s “unfair” of the company to expect him to work around people. I told him to suck it up buttercup, and that while he might have introvert tendencies, that’s not a life sentence. He said I was denying his identity. I then sent him Carol Dweck’s website. He’s ignoring me now.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I’m wondering if there is something in our culture, some narrative, that pushes the idea that we ARE a certain way, and that change is futile/impossible. Certainly when I was growing up I was told that I was smart, and gifted, which made me a risk-averse student. I see the same trends in many of my students (and, unfortunately, many professors). But your example with your brother just highlights how pervasive it seems to be. You are totally right that just because someone has introvert tendencies doesn’t mean they can’t work with people. How often do we think of our personality traits as fixed, when they mostly are not?

    2. fposte*

      Oh, this is a really interesting topic, and I really liked Mindset. It relates to my notion that currently in our culture we’re falling strongly toward binaries rather than gradations and perceiving a vast uncrossable gulf in the middle. I don’t just mean politically–I mean also what you’re saying, in that if your friend is a good person they don’t become a bad person, no matter what they do, because bad people are the people on the other side of the gulf.

      Though it seems like what you’re saying is really not so much an objection to the word “stupid” as to the word “are”–that “You are smart” has the same problem as “You are stupid”–which dovetails interestingly with the studies that suggest praise of an inherent characteristic is less effective with kids than praise of their performance or behavior.

      But in counter, I note that when I refer to something as “stupid” or somebody as an idiot I almost always mean it in that temporary way despite using the state of being verb–it’s somebody who just did something that’s a problem rather than a judgment on their overall personhood. (I’m also not sure it would be that much of an improvement for people to yell “You’re being an asshole!” rather than “You asshole!” at somebody in traffic.)

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I think my objection to the word “stupid” is a bit of not liking the word and a bit tied up with the mindset idea. I do think there’s a difference in referring to someone as an a*hole when driving (which I do, with no remorse, though not where they can hear me) and insulting someone you know and work with and labeling them as “stupid” or “idiotic”. I don’t know the other driver, will probably never see them again, and wouldn’t know if I did. I’m not really passing judgement on them as much as I am venting my frustration and then forgetting about it. But too often I’ve seen classmates, coworkers, and sadly, educators, label someone they know/work with/teach with negative characteristics, in a more fixed mindset way.

        I think the studies on praise are fascinating. Whenever I hear people label millenials as “fragile” or other things that suggest a sensitivity and resistance to criticism I am reminded of those studies. Depending on where the generation starts I may be on the older end of millenials, and growing up I was very sensitive to criticism. I was pretty much always praised for being smart, not because it was anything I did, but because it was who I was. So when I failed, or anything I did wasn’t perfect, I felt like I was being criticized. I think that a lot of people in my generation were praised for supposedly innate characteristics, which tends to foster a fixed mindset. If you have a fixed mindset, you don’t believe that you can get smarter, so if you do something poorly, you are bad at it and that probably won’t/can’t change. And let’s face it, millenials did not raise themselves, so all of the older generations who are criticizing the flaws millenials have ought to take a look at who raised us and how our upbringing might be contributing to said flaws. Did my parents do the best they knew how when raising me? Absolutely. But it means that older generations should maybe do a bit of reflection as well.

    3. Red*

      This might be the weirdest possible comment to go with this post, but I actually got a tattoo of the exponential growth function on my foot after work Monday, because 1 it’s math and 2 I really agree with this growth mindset.

  19. Overeducated*

    It’s FALL! Is anyone else a huge cliched fall dork like me? What do you do to enjoy it?

    My plan today is just to go to the farmer’s market because this is the best month for selection. Apple picking is an hour away so that might not happen.

    Next weekend I am going on a boat tour and a short camping trip in Shenandoah National Park! I have never been and I am so excited. And after that I am going to at least one Oktoberfest.

    1. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I LOVE Fall! But mostly because I looooove Halloween!

      Your plans sound so fun! Especially the boat tour and camping trip. You should go apple picking! I have never been before, but it sounds lovely :)

      I am celebrating with lots of candles, and fall clothes since this is the first time I have been in weather cool enough to warrant it. And fall cooking! And hikes to watch the leaves change.

      Honestly, I’m just enjoying living somewhere that has seasons that aren’t summer for literally the first time in my life.

    2. Heartlover1717*

      This weekend it’s cool enough to make the house fragrant with homemade soup.

      Columbus Day weekend the colors should be perfect for a day trip that includes stopping at an “Art in the Orchard” event. I LOVE public art, and the apple products this orchard has available for purchase are YUMMY…

      Toward the end of the month, there are a few lighted pumpkin displays – I’m planning to make at least one!

    3. Kathenus*

      LOVE Fall! The cool nights, brisk days, beautiful colors of the changing leaves. When I lived closer to a forested area I’d take lunch and a book and hike out far enough to hear no sounds of civilization and then just spend a few hours literally listening to the sound of the leaves falling, and the little critters moving through the dried leaves on the forest floor. So relaxing.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh yeah, the leaves. There are some really pretty trees in my neighborhood. And I’m childish enough to enjoy shuffling through a pile of leaves on the sidewalk. I love the swooshy sound it makes.

    4. KR*

      As a New Englander I LOVE FALL. Unfortunately I live in the California desert now and their fall is like our summer in New England. :/

    5. Lady Jaina*

      I love fall. I miss fall. We live in Southern California so the season skips us for the most part. I bought fall fragrance candles and decorated the front window in autumn leaves garland.

    6. all aboard the anon train*

      Fall fashion is my favorite. Boots and leather jackets and scarves.

      Also fall baking. Apple cider and pies and breads. All good comfort foods. I go hiking more in the fall than the spring or summer.

      It’s unfortunately still warm and muggy in New England (though today is a rare cool day before it goes back to the 70s this week), so I’m waiting impatiently for the weather to get to the 40s so I can wear fall clothes without being uncomfortable.

    7. Cookie D'oh*

      I love apple cider. The local farmer’s market has the best cider. Last year I froze some and it ended up keeping really well.

      I enjoy seeing the trees change color and the shift in weather.

    8. Jules the First*

      Apples! Cinnamon! Ginger! Cloves! Squash! Chestnuts! Falling leaves! Crisp mornings! First snowflakes! Sweaters! Scarves! I love fall!!!

      Unfortunately I now live in England where fall is simple a brief, slippery, transport-delayed interlude on the way to rain. And more rain. Some grey. And more rain…

    9. cornflower blue*

      Last year someone introduced me to the idea of adding sour cream to butternut squash soup. *angels singing*

      Also, I love my PSL, and I don’t care that it makes me basic.

    10. Nicole*

      I love fall as well! I enjoy decorating for the season, driving around the arboretum to see the changing leaves, making lots of soups and stews, going to the festivals and gorging myself on apple cider donuts and caramel apples, and then there’s Halloween, arguably the best holiday ever! I only wish fall didn’t end and become winter because that’s my least favorite season.

    11. Talvi*

      LOVE fall! The best season, hands down. (And this awful Toronto heat wave seems to have passed, so it finally feels like fall outside, too!)

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I like Halloween. I also like wearing sweaters and boots. And scarves—I wish I could wear them year-round, but unless I’m inside in the summer ALL day, it’s just too blasted hot here. It’s funny–I never used to like them but now I have a serious scarf habit. (I just counted and if you include a pashmina, a few winter scarves and two small ones I only wear in my hair, I have 37. I might have a small problem, LOL.)

      Fall also makes me sad because 1) ugh, nasty winter is coming, and 2) it’s great snuggle weather and that makes me feel especially lonely. :{

  20. Lily Evans*

    After months of dithering about wanting to take a trip in November, but being unable to decide where to go, I finally booked tickets! I’m going to be doing a few days in Paris and a few days in Amsterdam. Two cities I’ve really wanted to go to, with plenty on indoor activities since the weather might be kind of crappy at that time of year. If anyone has any suggestions/advice/stories for either I’d love to hear them!

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Paris and Amsterdam are both great cities.

      The louvre museum is awesome, the palace of versailles is also amazing.

      Amsterdam has the Van Gogh museum Anne Franks house and the Heineken museum which is pretty cool.

    2. Fiennes*

      In Paris consider the Musee d’ Orsay (sp?) and the Pompidou Centre. There are countless other museums to pore through, and a Metro that will let you get around the city without being soaked.

    3. pandq*

      We just got back from our first trip to Paris. Found value in purchasing a museum pass (not to be confused with the Paris pass, which is different) because we skipped the lines. I suppose it depends on how many museums you would like to see. They have a 2 day, 4 day, and 6 day pass. I loved the Louvre, the D’Orsay, the D’Orangerie. The Memorial de la Shoah was moving. My partner enjoyed the Army Museum. The best times were spent just having coffee and people watching and exploring the different neighborhoods. Have a great time!

    4. Monique*

      If you’re into the slightly macabre, Paris has a great catacombs that’s just incredible to see. And it’s undergroubd, so bonus in crummy weather! I second the Musée d’Orsay. IMO it’s more accessible than the Louvre and it has some awesome sculpture, especially Rodin.

    5. Jules the First*

      Amsterdam was amazing. The Van Gogh museum is brilliant (I recommend prebooking the first tickets of the day and starting with the first floor – the ground floor exhibits work just as well at the end of your trip, and if you start with the first floor, you’re ahead of most of the crowds. The museum of bags and purses in herengracht was really cool (and off-beat) and the maritime museum was also really interesting. If you get good weather, Artis (zoo, aquarium, and botanical gardens) is worth a visit, especially with kids – the aquarium has an amphibariam in the basement with all sorts of toads and frogs and newts etc.

      In Paris, the Orsay and Orangerie are the most accessible museums with great guidebooks, informative text, and art that most people will recognise, the Louvre has some fantastic stuff, but is usually super busy – the best time to visit is late in the day (admission is reduced price after a certain time) or in their evening opening (Thursday and Friday, I think?). The Ile St Louis has some great restaurants. Sainte Chapelle has gorgeous stained glass, the Musee de l’homme is better than you might think, and the Fondation Louis Vuitton has a really cool building and an interesting exhibition programme.

    6. Becca*

      Oh yay! Congrats! This is exciting :D My first trip to Paris & Amsterdam (also done in the same trip!) was in November when I was 8—we skipped Thanksgiving that year :) Yay for off-season travel. I actually went to Paris this July. I used the Rick Steves Paris book on my mom’s recommendation (insistence?), and I was not disappointed! If you’re interested in a guidebook, that one’s worth it. In addition to the usual recommendations, it explains how all the different metro tickets, museum passes, etc work—and there are a lot. There are audio tours you can download for your phone through him as well, though I didn’t use them.

      Things to do in Paris: sewer museum*, Musée d’Orsay (lovely and reasonably sized!), the Louvre… Île de la Cité has a lot of cool historical things, including the Archaeological Crypt. I found Versailles’ grounds more impressive than the main palace. I do have to put in a good word for Galleries Lafayette because I was able to buy bras that actually fit me!!! And if you’re on Île St. Louis, Cafe Med serves AMAZING food. REALLY good.

      *Yes, it’s smelly, but it’s also really interesting. Makes you think about infrastructure!

    7. Searching*

      Others have mentioned various museums in Amsterdam, but don’t forget the Rijksmuseum. Download their app in advance and you can do the audio-tour (or get audio commentary on many of the art pieces without doing a tour) without paying €5 for the player. It’s a huge museum and you can spend hours in there.

      If you have time to do a side trip to Delft, it’s a wonderful town and they have a couple of great museums there: Vermeer Centrum (about Vermeer’s life and painting techniques) and Royal Delft (museum/factory for Delft earthenware). It’s about an hour from Amsterdam by train. Links in reply.

      Finally, don’t forget many museums aren’t open on Mondays (the Rijksmuseum is an exception).

    8. Artemesia*

      I love both Amsterdam and Paris. Be sure you have waterproof shoes; I have a pair of lightweight hiking shoes from REI that are great on the feet and waterproof and they are invaluable in winter in these cities where, while it doesn’t get all that cold or usually snow, it showers often. In Amsterdam you can do the canal boat trip in the rain if necessary as the boats are covered.

      Be sure to get reserved entries for the Anne Frank Huis if you want to visit; there is always a long line and the place is tiny. In addition to the Van Gogh and Rijks Museums there is the Hermitage which contains collections from the famous St. Petersburg Hermitage; we saw things we had only seen in textbooks as they have not been in the west in my lifetime.

      Amsterdam is famous for Indonesian rice table and the restaurant we like is Kanjil et Tijger. We prefer not to get the rice table which is full of loads of dishes we don’t care for (cheap bulky cabbagy things) and a few great things. We like to go there and order half a dozen dishes that we actually want and this is one restaurant where you can do this; lots of the places are very tourist trappy and make it hard to economically order anything except the full rice table. We also love Dutch food. See if you can find a traditional restaurant with stamppot (mashed potatoes and kraut with sausage) and snert (traditional pea soup) if that appeals to you. They have lovely bar snacks too – bitterballen (potato/meat fritters) and toasties (grilled open face cheese.)

      Wonderful and beautiful city any time of year.

      Paris – well it is a great winter city. The opera is in full swing and we always try to go to at least one opera at the Bastille house. The shopping ‘passages’ make a nice showery day stroll as you can easily get from one to another without spending a lot of time outdoors.

      We went to a restaurant for our big blow out meal this spring called L’Initial in the 5th near the river and Notre Dame. Their 48 Euro 7 course meal was spectacular and a real bargain for that price.

      Paris is of course full of museums and other indoor venues. If you want to climb the Eiffel Tower I would get tickets ahead; you risk it being a rainy day but we went in the rain and it was actually quite beautiful (and not crowded – we wouldn’t have had a line that day. Those are the risks of buying ahead.

      Wonderful and beautiful city any time of year.

      1. Ninja*

        Moeders on the Rozengracht does great traditional Dutch food. Just walking around the Jordaan and the canal ring is great. You can rent bikes, but that’s quite pricey – we had to put down a 50 euro cash deposit per bike on top of the rental. You can take free boats across the IJ to the islands, which is fun. If you want to splash out for a really good meal, the Print Room in the Ink Hotel is excellent! And if you like booze, then the Bols museum/tour is supposed to be good fun.

      1. Artemesia*

        If you don’t get the Museum Pass and want to avoid the hellacious line at the Orsay, the newsstand out front sells tickets for cash and you can then walk into the ticketed door which won’t have a line at all in November. The main line may also be short then but it has been our experience that the Orsay is reliably the worst line besides the Eiffel Tower in Paris. If you love the impressionists don’t miss the Marmottan Museum which has the painting that named Impressionism i.e. Impression Sunrise by Monet and lot of other Monets.

    9. Liblady*

      Anne Frank house for sure. I went last summer and it was so moving. Be sure to reserve ticket sales in advance.

    10. Lily Evans*

      Thank you so much to everyone who’s given suggestions! There’s a lot of good advice here and I’ll be looking through all of the recommended museums and restaurants while I’m planning!

      1. Nana*

        In Paris the Musee Rodin is a wonderful smaller museum (the Thinker is there). Check out Shakespeare & Co and the restaurants in Saint Germain des Pres. Also don’t forget Pere Lachaise, the cemetery. In Amsterdam make sure to take a canal tour and watch out for the cyclists; I loved Amsterdam, but it’s the least pedestrian friendly city I’ve visited yet.

        1. Artemesia*

          I am convinced I will meet my end in Amsterdam; between the cyclists and the trams and they all seem to run on the same paths, we have had lots of close calls. They are all separated and locals know where the separations are, but we have trouble knowing when we are in the bike path or tramway or where cars travel or where we can safely walk. We are like two dithering old people when we need to cross a street. But Amsterdam is so beautiful it is worth it.

  21. Epsilon Delta*

    Thabk you to everyone who commented on my question last weekend about how to make lattes at home. So many good tips! Hillariously, my problem was that the battery in my milk frother was about dead, and I didn’t realize it because I had never put a fresh battery in (just used it right out of the box). So I put a new battery in and WOW I didn’t realize the milk frother could spin that fast!

    1. Gina Cioffi*

      I used to have the same problem. Batteries. I never ran out (I always keep a good supply of batteries on hand), but I hated the idea of throwing batteries in the trash (they’re toxic), and taking them to the recycling center was a PITA.

      So I got a Froth Wizard on Amazon. It’s manually operated and creates mountains of froth. I love that thing. Batteries are now a non-issue. I’ve had mine for two years now, and it still works great. Only caveat would be that if you have arthritis in your hands, it’s probably not a great idea for you. It doesn’t take much strength or manual dexterity to us it, but you have to pump it up and down quickly, and that could be a problem for some.

      I’ll never go back to battery-operated frothers again!

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        That is a neat idea, but I am not sure I’d have the patience to do that at 6:30 in the morning before coffee :)

  22. Foreign Octopus*

    I’m really enjoyed The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt at the moment. It’s different but better than I expected.

    So…what are the commentators of the good ship AAM reading this week?

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        The library where I work has the new Sue Grafton. I’ve been meaning to check it out. I really love her series.

      2. Artemesia*

        I am always looking for new authors so will try Casey. I just started another author Fred Vargas and am really disappointed. Halfway through and it is one of those convoluted serial killer deals where the protagonist is somehow the obsession of the sadistic murdered and the murderer is trying to frame the detective. Hate it when they are eating their own from the git go.

        Have enjoyed ML Longworth’s Verlaque and Bonnet stories set in Aix en Provence, but alas have finished them — there are 6 or 7. Also finished the Bruno series by Martin Walker set in the Dordogne. Was hoping Vargas would be in that class, but not so far.

      3. Isobel*

        I like Jane Casey’s books a lot (she’s actually Irish, not British, though her detective Maeve Kerrigan is a Londoner with Irish parents). I’ve just finished The Blood Card by Elly Griffiths. It’s the latest in her Stephens & Mephisto series set in 1950s Brighton and I really enjoyed it.

    1. Random Citizen*

      Right now I’m reading an incredible book by N.D. Wilson called Outlaws of Time: the Legend of Sam Miracle, about a boy who died a thousand times and has snakes grafted into his arms so he can save his sister. I love it!

    2. Cookie D'oh*

      I’ve been reading some Sophie Kinsella e-books from the library. I don’t like the Shopaholic series, but the other ones are better. I’ve felt like reading some light fiction and these have fit the bill.

    3. New Bee*

      I just finished Danzy Senna’s New People, and now I’m reading The Misfortune of Marion Palm per Alison’s recommendation.

    4. Comeswithcats*

      Donna Tartt is one of my favourite authors. I loved the Goldfinch, I think it’s my fave books of hers.

      Currently going through a light reading phase – recently read some Alexander McCall Smith (44 Scotland St series) and End of Watch by Stephen King. Next read is Jasper Jones.

    5. Quaggaquagga*

      I recently finished The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay. It’s gotten some pretty extravagant praise, so I had high expectations. The writing was good, and the three storylines were interesting enough, but it’s certainly not at an Umberto Eco level of narrative complexity, as some claim. I actually debated abandoning halfway, but decided to push through.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King! I also need to read the last book in my friend’s trilogy (Foreign Devils, part of The Incorruptibles series by John Hornor Jacobs). I promised him a review.

  23. MsChanandlerBong*

    My landlord is being a real pill. We have rented from her for two years, with the plan that we would buy the house from her when we are able to get a mortgage. I told her in May that we spoke with someone at the mortgage company, and that person told us that we shouldn’t bother applying until my husband has been employed for two full years (some of you may remember that he was out of work for 7 months in 2015/2016 after we moved and his first job offer was rescinded because his former employer would not provide a reference; they only provide dates of employment and the employee’s final pay rate). I told her that his two-year anniversary at his current employer is not until April 2018, so she was aware that it will be some time before we put things in motion.

    Yesterday, out of the blue, we get an envelope from her in the mail. It had a purchase agreement in it. Now, I am not mad about that. We’ve been thinking about asking her to do one, as it would protect us from having her change her mind about letting us rent until we are ready to buy. It says to sign and return by 9/30–less than one day, considering the mail doesn’t come until around 4:00 in the afternoon. She listed a purchase price that is about $30,000 too high for this house and this neighborhood. The packet also included a “market analysis” of comps that she must have pulled from real-estate websites (she did all the work, not a real-estate professional). Our house is either 889 or 1,144 square feet (the lease says it’s 1,144, but the tax assessor’s office says 889, so there’s either a mistake somewhere or the previous owner did work that was not permitted, which will be a problem at some point). We have two bedrooms and two bathrooms. All but one of the “comps” has three bedrooms. The square footage on the “comps” ranges from 1,016 to 1,948, but four of the seven are 1,300 or more. The best part is that she offered us a $50 repair allowance for repairs arising from the inspection, and $0 for paint or carpet. So generous!

    I called her immediately and told her that this is not a $138K neighborhood, nor is it a $138K house. If I wanted a mortgage for almost $140,000, I’d go three miles from here and get a much nicer house with a yard that doesn’t need to be cleaned up and landscaped, or maybe a house with a cement or paved parking area (we just park in our yard). She fell all over herself to tell me, “Oh, I don’t know anything about this. People were telling me it’s just a starting point and you need a price so that you can apply for a mortgage.” That’s true, but why would I sign a legal document with a price on it that I am not willing to pay? And why only give us ONE day to read it and sign it?

    Now, I realize she is doing us a favor by letting us rent until we can get a mortgage, so I am not complaining about her in that respect. I just think she’s being foolish. She thinks she’s going to get a big windfall out of this house, and I am fairly sure she’s mistaken. I’ve looked at actual comparable properties, and they’re selling for an average of $107K. Plus, the whole point of buying from her was that it was going to be a lower price because we already live here and aren’t going to nickel and dime her on things like chipped paint or small things that a buyer off the street would probably insist she fix. If she insists on asking for $138K, we’ll just move, and she can let the house sit on the market for months.

    * Yes, I realize $138K for a house is really low compared to places like CA and NY, and I am grateful that we live in a low-cost-of-living area, but I am not going to pay nearly twice the average price per square foot for the house. If I was in NYC, I wouldn’t pay $4,000 a square foot when the average is around $1,700, either, unless the place was spectacular or had some feature I couldn’t find elsewhere.

    1. bunniferous*

      I do broker price opinions all the time for my job (I am a real estate agent.) I guess no one told her that when you pull comps you have to do adjustments for square footage, etc etc.

      She can do one of two things. Have a real estate agent do a CMA or for the most accurate, hire an appraiser. The agent will be free, the appraiser will cost money.

    2. bunniferous*

      Oh, and tax square footage is not reliable. But then again neither is the one on the lease. She can get an agent to measure the house.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Hmm, our agent told me that the square footage on file with the assessor’s office is the one they will go by when doing the paperwork. Is that not correct?

        1. bunniferous*

          Not in our state. We are required to measure ourselves, but we can use an appraiser measurement instead .

        2. I get that*

          You can determine the square footage yourself. And especially if this is a one story. You measure the outside of your house. And only finished areas count.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Yeah, no, anybody who says “you have one day to make up your mind on this enormous financial decision” is either foolish or doesn’t have your interests at heart.

    4. Gina Cioffi*

      This is where you negotiate. Of course, don’t sign that document. Do your own research. Heck, call up some local realtors and ask them to come out and give you an estimate on how much the home is worth. It’s a no-strings situation on a realtor estimate – you owe them nothing for their estimate, and you’re not obligated to ever talk to them again.

      Then talk to your landlady. Tell her what you told us, that her “estimate” (WAG, really) is much too high and that if she puts the house on the market with that asking price it will sit for months unsold, all the while she’ll be reaping no rental income from it. Not good for her financially, is it?

      Don’t be afraid to negotiate, to talk to her, to offer more realistic numbers. What have you got to lose? If she wants you out, you’re out anyway. So talk to her, stay calm, offer more realistic numbers, and don’t sign anything. Who knows, she may actually see reason.

      Good luck!

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I called her as soon as we got the agreement. I actually wish I’d waited, as I hadn’t looked at her “comps” yet. I told her this is not a $138K house or neighborhood, and that I was thinking closer to $105K. I specifically said that if I wanted to pay $138K, I’d go three miles down the road and buy a nicer house that doesn’t need any work. She seemed okay with it, but I am not going to trust that she will be okay with it when we’re ready to buy. I emailed our mortgage person and asked her how much we’d qualify for; if we can qualify for that much, we’ll just go buy a house elsewhere.

    5. Artemesia*

      I’d find another house to rent now and get away from this loon. Buying a house is a great way to destroy your financial security unless you are already in great shape and the house is likely to appreciate.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        If I saw a house as an investment and not a place to live, I’d agree, but I don’t. Our mortgage payment would be $20 more than we pay in rent, we’d be able to do whatever we wanted in terms of paint, flooring, and landscaping, and we would not be at the mercy of someone who could throw us out at any time. Our last landlord sold our house, and we ended up stuck with an absentee landlord who didn’t fix anything, including the cracked sewer pipe in the basement. I never want to be in that position again.

        1. Artemesia*

          A house is a giant money pit — anything that breaks you have to replace or fix. Homeowners insurance is a lot higher than renters etc etc. The added costs of home ownership are well beyond the mortgage costs. It can be great, but if you are close to the bone with your budget it can destroy you.

          1. Kj*

            I think everyone should buy less house than the mortgage company says you can buy. My husband and I were approved for an ABSURDLY high amount and bought a house that was half the mortgage we could have gotten. As a result, we can do things like re-do our hardwood floors, replace doors, improve the yard, buy furniture, without struggling. It is a blessing. We also bought in an “emerging area” aka the crime rate is higher than in other areas BUT our city is super-low crime anyways, so we feel ok with this. And the area improves daily and our house is, 2 years later, worth more than 200k what we paid. But the market here is crazy and we don’t count on that. I plan to die in this house, so this is a long-term investment for me.

    6. Sualah*

      Late reply, but you can also make a counteroffer with language that if the house appraises low, you get to make a new offer or back out, no penalty. Because say you did offer $138k and got a $133k mortgage, but the house appraised at $100k. The bank isn’t going to lend you $133k for a $100k house so you’d have to make up the difference. If neighborhood comps are really that low, your appraisal will come in low.

  24. Responsible Roomie*

    I need advice on dealing with a careless roommate. We own our house and rent one of the bedrooms to a friend. He is very nice and we get along well, but there’s a big problem.

    He has lived with us for about a year. He frequently leaves doors and windows unlocked or even open when he leaves the house. Once last year, he left the front door open and the stove on full blast when he left for an overnight. In the past two weeks, he has left the back door open twice when he has left the house.

    Every time it happens, he apologizes profusely. But it keeps happening again! Sooner or later something bad or terrible will happen. If someone breaks in, they’ll be stealing our stuff, not his. And if the house catches on fire (!) our lives will be destroyed but he’ll just have to find another room to rent. At what point do we kick him out? Or should we set up an ultimatum so he has more skin in the game? How do we do that without hurting our mostly-great roommate relationship?

    1. Always Anon*

      That is really serious! I would tell him that you love living with him but his actions could lead to serious consequences and he needs to change his habits or find a new place to live. As nice of a guy as he is he’s putting the house and everything in it in danger. Tell him exactly how many chances he has left and stick to it. He certainly won’t seem that great if you come home to a cleaned out/burned down house.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Sorry if this is kind of scary but when I first met my husband he had a housemate like this. He left the gas on once overnight. It’s a miracle he didn’t somehow end up killing everyone. He was never sorry, though.

        I think you may need a checklist for housemate to complete any time he leaves the house.

        Have you asked him why he does this? Did he grow up somewhere he didn’t need to do this stuff?

    2. soupmonger*

      Have you tried asking him why it’s happening? Is he forgetful, careless, lazy or what? This is serious – I’d try to find out why it’s happening and then put appropriate measures in place to stop it happening again. Tell him if he does it one more time, he’ll be leaving. And then if he does it one more time, tell him to leave.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Well, I’d kick him out. But if you don’t want to go that route, then you need to put the responsibility for fixing this back on him.

      “Bob, I appreciate that you’ve apologized for it, but it keeps happening, and it can’t keep happening. Can you tell us what you’re going to do to make sure you close and lock the doors when you leave?”

      I’ve found that a lot of people who are absent-minded like this often grew up in a situation where they never really had responsibility for the consequences of their mistakes, and they never learned to say “dammit, I need to find a way to quit doing that”. And you can’t be the one to impose a system because that just means one more thing that is Somebody Else’s Problem where they don’t have ownership.

      Plus, more generously, what you may think of as a solution may not work for them. Maybe written lists don’t work for Bob, but he can tell Siri to remind him “close the doors” whenever he is a certain distance from the house, for example.

      1. HannahS*

        Yeah. I definitely see shades of that in myself. Nothing dangerous, but as it turns out, I CAN kill bugs. I’ve just never had to because I could shriek for one of my parents and they grudgingly took care of it for me. Turns out I’m OK at killing them, I just need to take off my glasses so that I can’t see their *shudder* legs. Either Bob can do it and needs a kick in the butt, or he literally can’t and is therefore not safe to live with.

    4. Book Lover*

      Would an ultimatum help him remember? Different people need different prompts, so it is hard to know how to make him stop doing this. But if you commit to requiring him to leave if you find the door left open or the stove off, maybe he will figure something out? In other words, a consequence bigger than just you being upset with him? But then you have to be ready to follow through. Also I guess check the laws with regard to this, because you have to know it is legal to kick him out and how much notice would be required?

    5. Artemesia*

      I would have kicked him out after the 3rd occurrence. If he didn’t change then, he isn’t changing and as you note, you not he will suffer the consequences. Will your own homewoners cover if the house is left unlocked?

    6. Episkey*

      I had a friend who had a roommate like this (left a burner on once when leaving the house and never locked doors) — it did not work out and she did end up having the roommate leave. Until he gets some kind of serious consequence from his actions, he’s not going to make an effort to stop doing it.

      1. Dead Quote Olympics*

        Yes, I agree. If he’s really serious about wanting to change, charge him a serious fine every time he does it. $100 for leaving the doors open; anything that could destroy the house is $500. he’ll either change once he’s literally had to pay for the consequences, or he’ll move out because he can’t afford it.

    7. Ann O.*

      I had a friend with a roommate who kept leaving the garage open when he would go out for short trips. Their house did get robbed.

      To me, this type of thing is a deal breaker. Great roommate relationships are important, but safety for me is more important. I’m not sure what your lease with him requires or what you need financially from a roommate, but I’d start the process of looking for a replacement now.

    8. Observer*

      You need to lay it out for him. He needs to tell you exactly how he is going to make sure that this stops. And if his measures don’t make sense, or if they don’t work (ie he does this again), he’s out.

      These are the kinds of things that can happen to anyone ONCE IN A BLUE MOON. Neither the combinations nor the frequency, however, are “Oh, crazy stuff happens.” This is either a pathological level of carelessness or some condition that you don’t know about. And, it really doesn’t matter. You need to not have to deal with the fall out.

      The main thing you need to watch out for is what his legal rights as a tenant are. A chat with a lawyer might be worthwhile.

    9. Florida*

      I would evict him. You have already talked to him about it. He has apologized, but has also sent a very loud message that he has no intention to change.
      Tell him that the roommate situation is not working because you have different styles. Tell him he needs to find a new place to live within a month. If he says he will change, and you believe him, you are a sucker. He has already told you he would change, and he hasn’t – an ultimatum is not going to help.
      Give him one month’s notice. Take any necessary legal action necessary now (don’t wait until the month is up). Start looking for a responsible roommate.

    10. Elder Dog*

      I know of someone who did this sort of thing. He’d had a stroke. He was supposed to get some rehabilitation that would help with it, but would never entirely fix it.

  25. Nothemomma*

    If I Am So Furious is reading today, I just wanted to say I’ve been thinking about you all week and hoping that you are getting to a good sense of your new normal. good luck with all you are going through!

    1. I am Still Furious!!*

      Hi, thank you so much, was just going to make a quick post. I was out and about today, feels good to be sort of free :)

  26. Gaia*

    Weight Loss Update: I lost another 1.4 lbs this week which is definitely slower than I have seen but I’m taking as a win. It was a tough week and it involved no less than three very tempting days to give in. Tuesday I forgot my lunch and had no time to walk to the deli for a salad so I had to order in. My options were burger or burger or burger. So I ordered a burger (but tossed out the bun). Wednesday we had ice cream sundaes at work and I opted out (because there is just no way to make that healthy and I don’t trust myself to have just a little and not spiral back into old habits yet). So, in an effort to be kind a coworker (who had previously asked and I declined) brought one to me and set it at my desk. Finally, yesterday I was just feeling really down. I was tired, I was hit with a sudden and strong sadness over my dog who died in May. I wanted pizza. I went to the gym instead.

    I’ve been disappointed that I’m down nearly 20lbs but my pant size hasn’t changed at all. But I guess I’ve been in this same size since I hit about 300lbs so I still have a bit left to go. I am losing fat in weird places. Like the rolls on my back and around my ribs right under my breasts. I’ve been a 46 band on bras forever. Like FOREVER. My bras are now loose on the tightest clasp. I’m going to go get fitted today and see what comes of it.

    I’ve started to mixup my gym time. I do 20 minutes on the elliptical (it is all I can muster so far – that thing is a BEAST) followed by either 10 minutes of mix strength/resistance and off machine cardio (some moves from beachbody that I can manage) or 5 minutes of stretching/resistance and a 10 minute walk outside. Next week I want to try to push for 30 minutes on the elliptical plus the other work.

    Gym jerk has been back several times. He stopped in front of my machine Thursday and asked if he could use it. WHILE I WAS ON IT! I wasn’t about to stop mid step to deal with him so I just stared at him until he walked away. I am pretty sure I know who he is now so I plan to talk to the property managers about this. It has gone from one stupid comment to feeling like he’s showing up whenever I’m there and making snide comments or trying to goad me directly. Something about him just really makes me uncomfortable.

    1. SophieChotek*


      And gym jerk…seriously! I am sorry you have to put up with that crap. I hope management will actually do something about it. You are doing great and you don’t need to have to deal with him.

      1. Gaia*

        I hope they do, too. They are pretty inept but this is getting out of hand. I probably would have left it alone if it didn’t feel almost harassment-y at this point.

    2. neverjaunty*

      That is absolutely a win! 1-2 pounds a week is a sustainable and reasonable rate of loss.

      And I hope Gym Jerk trips on an elliptical machine.

      1. Gaia*

        Oh my gosh that is funny! He did trip when leaving the gym the other day and I definitely said a silent cheer and giggled to myself.

    3. Book Lover*

      I think you are amazing :).
      Not because of the weight loss, that is wonderful but there will be times when you plateau and times when you lose more, but because you are working so hard to change old habits. I will remember this next time I want to go to the cafeteria instead of eating my boring brought from home food, or next time I am tired and don’t want to work out :)

      1. Gaia*

        Thanks :) I am really excited. I feel like something has changed. I had a really aggressive weight loss goal for my first month and I didn’t quite make it, but you know what? I am still really proud of the changes I *have* made. Facebook memories remind me of all the times I swore up and down that I was going to do this before and it always failed. But this time I am focusing more on how I feel and focusing more on being proud of what I have done as opposed to attacking myself when I fail.

        Even if I never lose another ounce, but I can keep the great sleep, the clearer skin, the energy and the positive mood I would be content.

    4. nep*

      Absolutely take it as a win. It’s a win! Well done.
      ‘I wanted pizza. I went to the gym instead.’ This is perfect. So inspiring.
      Thanks and keep us posted.

      1. Gaia*

        I’m glad I can help in little ways! I will say that these regular updates keep me going. I don’t want to have to say “Oh I had pizza three days this week and didn’t go to the gym once” lol! I’m sure that week will come (and it will probably be Thanksgiving!) but let’s keep that away for right now!

        1. nep*

          It is definitely a good way to help oneself stay accountable. I like it.
          These lifting classes I’ve taken in the past couple weeks really meant stepping out of my comfort zone. A friend at work is also into weightlifting and I texted her that I was going; just the simple thing of texting her helped me not back out.

    5. Amadeo*

      Why are gym jerks such a thing? I paid for the summer semester at the rec at my workplace this past summer and worked with a personal trainer for a bit. I went at lunchtime one day hoping to destress a bit (it had been a rough morning) and went into the tiny ‘private’ free weight room away from the testosterone pit to do hand weights and kettle bells. I had a fan on because I don’t operate well without air movement if it’s warm.

      Some butt munch came in and without even an ‘eff you’ turned off my fan, picked up some weights and then proceeded to behave as though my mere presence was some kind of hinderance to him. He never said a word to me, but there was a lot of equipment rearranging around me, huge, heavy sighs, one or two reps with a weight then he’d sit there and stare into the mirror, then he’d get up and move something else. I wanted to throw the kettlebell at his head.

      I’m sorry you’re putting up with someone doing crap like that to you repeatedly and I hope reporting him to the property managers gets you some relief. It’s so frustrating!

      1. Gaia*

        Seriously! By far, most of the people I come across at the gym are either nice and supportive or too focused on their own workout to notice me (which is perfectly fine, we’re all there for a reason). I even had one guy help me with my form when I was doing some resistance training. He was clearly wanting to say something but didn’t (I think he didn’t want to offend me), so I asked for his help and he gave me two quick pointers that I would have never known but totally make sense and then we went back to our own thing.

        I think, in this particular case, he feels personally offended by the fact that I am fat and in his presence. Yes, that is a big thing to accuse someone of but given his behavior towards me over the last two weeks it is more than justified. We’ve had no other interactions outside the gym and he seems to be trying to hurt my feelings. He probably assumes I’m not working hard since I’m not thin but uh…wtf does he think I’m doing at the gym?

        1. Artemesia*

          My husband was about 35 pounds overweight 30+ years ago. He started spending an hour each morning at the gym 6 days a week and steadily took off the weight and has kept it off all this time and kept up his exercise routine. It is commendable that you are committed to your healthy weight and fitness and are doing something about it. Blank him and the horse he rode in on. He is the one who should be embarrassed.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      Congrats on your weight loss!! And I’m jealous that you can do 20 minutes on the elliptical. Years ago I was able to work myself up an hour (why I would want to go that long, I don’t know!). These days I can barely manage 5 minutes, and I work out 5 days a week! But I do different exercises now, so that’s probably why.

      As far as your size changing, I was in the same boat when I started. I started at 343 pounds. I’d say it took me maybe 40 pounds before I could go down a size (and no one even noticed I lost weight until I hit 50-60 pounds). It was disappointing, but it started changing faster after that. You’ll get there!

      1. Gaia*

        Thanks! It is funny, when I weighed about 200lbs I could gain or lose 15lbs and my pants size would change. I think I just have a lot of fat all over so it just isn’t coming off my waist and hips quickly. But, it will! It has to eventually, right!?

        On the elliptical, the first time I did it I nearly quit at 5 minutes. But I convinced myself to try to push for 7 and then 10. I find that once I get past 7 minutes it gets a lot easier to keep going but pushing past 20 minutes right now means I cannot walk when I get off of it and my legs will be sore the next day.

        Definitely true about the weight loss not being noticed. I can see it in my face, and I sent a side by side picture to my best friend and she said it was noticable side by side but she wouldn’t have realized yet without that (she is lovingly honest, isn’t she?). But I do notice my tops are fitting a bit looser and I can see I have fewer (and smaller) rolls on my back. But most importantly, I feel stronger and can do more reps of my light weights and I am more flexible.

    7. Gaia*

      Also: People who go to the gym – what is with bringing small children (like 5 – 7 years old) and letting them play on the machines? How could you ever think it is safe to let a small child play on a treadmill or elliptical?!?

    8. Weight Loss Journier*

      I started trying to lose weight in May and have lost about 35 pounds but seem to have plateaued for the past two weeks or so. It is a little frustrating. I don’t know if I have gone down any sizes in clothing, but a few items of clothing that were a bit more snug are now looser so I do feel like I am making some progress.

      Unfortunately, I have some medical problems that are making regular exercise complicated right now. I have an appointment with a doctor about it next week, but will likely be a little longer before it is resolved. But I am trying to be more active in general than my desk job usually requires until I am more able to do more vigorous activity.

      My work has an on-site gym that I have enjoyed using! It usually isn’t crowded and have yet to run into any gym jerks. Only down side is it is limited in some of the equipment it has.

      1. Gaia*

        Nice! Good for you. My doctor and I had a chat about plateaus just last week. She was telling me that they will happen and I just have to keep at it and let my body catch up. One thing she suggested that maybe could help you is that when you hit a plateau you should change something. Do a different exercise, change up what/how you eat, etc. It sort of shocks your body back into weight loss mode.

        But the reality is this is really hard. You’ve already done great though, so you can keep it up! For exercise, I started out just walking because that was all I could do. But walking is better than sitting and I enjoy it. That led to the gym when the weather was crappy which led to more gym etc.

        Good luck with your doctor! I hope they can give you some ideas on what exercises are possible (if any) without making your health worse.

        1. Ann O.*

          Plateaus aren’t just about shocking your body into weight loss mode. It’s that your muscles (and really your whole body) are getting stronger and thus the exercise that was challenging becomes no longer challenging. So you have to change things up to continue progressing in strength/endurance/flexibility building. It’s also good to change things up to make sure you get different muscle groups.

    9. Sibley*

      Congrats! Keep up the good work.

      Re: changing sizes, or not. When you lose weight, at some point you’re also dealing with loose skin. Skin takes a lot longer to shrink, and depending on lots of things may not shrink as much as you’d like. So you may have lost X pounds, but it looks like you gained because of how the loose skin is sitting on you. Do not despair – give it time for your body to adjust.

      Also, if you’re working out, there’s a good chance you’re building muscle. This is really good! Muscle burns way more calories than fat does, so it can help rev up your metabolism to speed up weight loss. However, it also weighs more than fat. So you get this weird thing where you’ve added muscle and lost fat but your weight is actually the same, or actually increased. Again, just keep going and give your body time. Over time, adding muscle will really do amazing things.

  27. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    What can I bake with: pureed pumpkin, 2 eggs, and 4 cups of unsweetened coconut flakes?

    Also, how do you get into the fall season? Baking pumpkin bread etc.?

    1. Anon in IL*

      I used to make these gluten-free sugar-free cookies of canned pumpkin, rolled oats, and an egg on a baking sheet. Cinnamon to taste. And sometimes vanilla extract and/or a little leavining like baking soda.No measurements, I’m afraid. I just did it by eye but they were always edible and sometimes quite good.

      I ate them warm spread with peanut butter or a little honey.

      I wonder if coconut could substitute for the rolled oats?

    2. buttercup*

      Flourless pancakes with some cinnamon!

      I make my own pumpkin spice (unsweetened) lattes with pumpkin puree, milk, and a cinnamon stick thrown in. (you could also add maple syrup for sweetener.) I love fall!

    3. Isobel*

      Pumpkin and coconut cake to use your eggs; pumpkin & coconut soup (with some Thai flavours, maybe a bit of lime zest?).

    4. Raine*

      Macaroons? The ones that are little coconut cookies, not the french kind. Just mix some pumpkin with the eggs, add sugar/cinnamon/whatever else to taste, fold in the coconut, and bake for 20-25 minutes at 325-350.

  28. bunniferous*

    Anybody here done one of those DNA tests?
    I got mine back last week and to say I was shocked was an understatement-lets just say when you expected to confirm you were part Greek but found out you were part Jewish by that same exact percentage…..I mean, I think it is really really cool but when you have gone years thinking one thing and then all of a sudden get it upended…..and yes, I am sure the results are right. (Grandma was….interesting. Leave it at that.)

    1. WellRed*

      I want to do this, and will. But it will be weird if I learn, say, I have no Irish in me, which is what I identify with.

      1. bunniferous*

        Well, I also grew up thinking I was mostly English and found out I was only 10 percent. But being 39 percent Irish did make up for it! ;)

        1. smokey*

          Who did you use that differentiated between English and Irish? That’s the one I need to get.

          1. bunniferous*

            Ancestry DNA. Google for a coupon -I found one and did not have to pay shipping and handling.

    2. bunniferous*

      European Jewish ancestry to be exact-apparently my (new to me) relatives came from the area of the old Russian Empire.

    3. Red*

      I did! 23andme has a study for bipolar and depression going so I got it for free. It was really interesting to see, it looks like I have a bit of everything from all over southern Europe, including a bit of Balkan ancestry, which was unexpected.

    4. The IT Manager*

      I don’t think these things are incredibly reliable.

      But I honestly think the commercial with Kyle who thought he was German and did German dance but then found out he was Scottish and switched to kilts is so stupid. Obviously IDK his story but if your parents/grandparents/ancestors lived in Germany as Germans then that’s their culture not some place they never lived.

      1. fposte*

        A lot of people using 23andme are adoptees, like me, so the relationship to culture is a little more complicated.

      2. bunniferous*

        Mine makes perfect sense considering where I am from -3/4 of my ancestors have been here for generations, and the local Jewish community, while small (I live in the South) comes from the area in question. Plus I researched companies before I did mine (I chose Ancestry DNA.)

        1. bunniferous*

          Oh, and it is kinda ironic I find out all this during the High Holy Days….(Used to live in Florida, and my Jewish friends there educated me on Jewish holidays and convenient Yiddish words like shmattah and schmuck . Once I found out what that last one really meant I do not use it!)

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            Schmuck may have a specific origin as a genital reference, but IMHO it is a great word for character assessment. In a mere seven letters it manages to communicate a blend of behavior and personality so disappointing that they produce horrified onlookers who are entirely justified in being shocked/ deeply disapproving / utterly aghast.

          2. Ann O.*

            Why not? I know what schmuck means, and I use it all the time. IMHO, the best part of Yiddish is how unashamedly vulgar it is.

        2. Nana*

          Greek and Jewish aren’t opposites. There have been Jews in Greece for thousands of years (fewer since WWII and communist occupation.)

          1. bunniferous*

            Supposedly the ones I was a genetic match for come from Lithuania, Poland, Russia , Ukraine and surrounding area. But I know what you mean. Depends how you define being Jewish.

            1. Automotive Engineer*

              This is super delayed but half my family is Greek and the other half is Lithuanian/Polish/Russian Jews (confirmed by my sister’s 23andme results).

        1. Artemesia*

          I lived for a year in Germany years ago and pretty much 100% of school age boys wore lederhosen then and the occasional man especially in the south. They are the most practical child’s garment ever as a kid can wear the same pair for years before having to upsize and then pass them down to his cousin or brother.

          1. The German Chick*

            I have been living in Germany for 32 years and have never seen a single person wearing Lederhosen outside of Bavaria. So yes, Lederhosen might be practical, but they are only customary in a very specific region in specific contexts, certainly not a thing in all of Germany.

    5. Gaia*

      I have not done a DNA test (although I am going to do it next month!) but I have done some family history that really upended my view of myself.

      I’ve only ever known my mother’s side of the family. My father was an abusive POS and he’s been out of my life since I was a baby. My mother doesn’t know much about his family and I’ve hit roadblock after roadblock trying to research them (not to get to know them, but to know my heritage) likely because it is 98% possible he lied about his name. Awesome.

      I grew up being told I was Italian and Norwegian. My maternal grandfather’s father immigrated from Italy and my maternal grandmother’s grandfather immigrated for Norway. It was never discussed, nor questioned, where their respective mother and grandmother hailed from. It was assumed the answer was Italy and Norway. Boy howdy was that wrong.

      They hailed from America circa 1620. Before that, England as far back as I can find reliable records with a touch of German and Scottish mixed in for good measure. They were among the founders of many towns in New England and Virginia. While there is no one particularly famous these days, they were an interesting bunch. I’m now writing the history of my foremothers. And, of course, all my grandfather wants to know is about his father….sigh.

    6. katamia*

      I’ve been trying to get my father to do it. I haven’t because I really want more about his (poorly documented and very confusing) side of the family, and the information I’d get from him would be more complete regarding that side of the family than what we’d get from me because I’d have my mom’s heritage in there too. I don’t expect to be too shocked because we’re already pretty uncertain about what went on ~100 years ago, though, lol.

    7. fposte*

      Yup, a few years back I did 23andme. I agree with people that their reliability isn’t exactly ironclad, and it’s been interesting to see how 23andm3 have changed their geographic descriptions of ancestral origins over time and how mine has roamed around a little in their records :-). I started out as 25% Italian and now I’m down to 2.8% Italian and 11.6% “Broadly Southern European.” 23andme doesn’t specify Greek at all–as close as it gets is “Balkan,” which I’ve got a big whack of, and the only Jewish ancestry it guesses at is Ashkenazi. If they’re identifying you through maternal or paternal haplotype as Ashkenazi, it looks like that’s a reasonable likelihood, but it’s harder to determine Sephardic Jewish ancestry.

      1. Gaia*

        I will, being in an auxiliary field to these kinds of tests, I’m not surprised it has changed. We’re still learning a lot about human DNA and how that relates to geographical hereditary paths. The science is always changing. These tests are fairly accurate but I would recommend using them to get an idea of region, not specific countries – particularly in regions where borders often shift (which is everywhere, really, I guess!)

    8. Sylvan*

      I haven’t, but I will sooner or later. One set of great-grandparents practically became entirely new people when they moved to the US. I’m curious about them and this could be one more way to learn.

    9. Mandy*

      I haven’t done one of those, but I might at some point.

      My sister has been doing a lot of genealogy work the past few years and has found some fascinating stuff. Most of the records we can find go straight back to the UK, though my Dad has always said we have some German ancestry. On my mother’s side, my grandmother thought we had some Native American ancestry, but we think that family rumor came from the fact that one of my male ancestors’ second wife was Native American, but they never had any children as far as we can tell.

    10. Camellia*

      Yes, and it came back 96% English-Irish, which surprised no one, and 3% Neanderthal! Which I tell everyone means that I will be very very polite to you up until the time I bash you on the head with my club. :D

    11. Annabelle Lee*

      I did the one on Ancestry.com. It confirmed I am related to the cousins on both sides of my family who I already know. And there were no big surprises ethnicity-wise.
      I found it fascinating but then I am big into genealogy.

    12. Artemesia*

      I did it because my father died of AD and I wanted to see if I carried the genes. I don’t know if he had the genes, but still. I know they aren’t perfectly reliable but it was still reassuring to not have those genes or the Brac genes. I also have a higher than average percent of Neanderthal heritage supposedly. Ooga booga.

    13. Julia*

      I haven’t, but my mother recently got back in contact with a part of the family that had lived in the Eastern part of Germany during the separation, and one of them is doing our family history for the part of my mother’s father’s family, which was Jewish.
      I’m kind of interested in my father’s side as well, as they have a Polish last name (I don’t anymore, I took my Japanese husband’s name – imagine my grandkids in a hundred years doing ancestry :D), but no one speaks any Polish.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I would not be surprised to find out that many of us are not with the family of our ancestors. Shortly after my father died I learned our family name is probably not “Jones”. This is because of a male ancestor who may have gone missing/presumed dead. His son who he left behind took the name of the mom’s new husband. But those things were secrets and not to be spoken about.
        I would love to know what happened there, but don’t have time to follow it.

    14. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I did Ancestry and found out I was exactly what I’d been identifying with: Irish-Italian. 40% Irish and 26% Italian. Right on the money, as my maternal grandmother was from Sicily. Now…where do I get my whiskey and wine? ;)

    15. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t, and I likely won’t after reading that the company can now own your data. As in, your genetic data. And we all know what companies do with your data–they sell it.

      1. Alison Read \'red\*

        Exactly! Additionally, the ability for familial identification scares the crud out of me. Pretty soon we will have very little anonymity, it is frightening and seems inevitable.

        The government is constantly working to access these companies’ records to datamine their files. I feel our 4th amendment is becoming moot. Now the government has the ability to halt the statute of limitations based on a DNA identification, so really, time is on their side.

        1. bunniferous*

          Well, at my age I am just not worried about that stuff. And frankly if the gubmint wanted my dna there are lots and lots of ways they could get hold of it without me even knowing. If it had not been for the family issue of who my grandfather was I probably would not have bothered-I really wanted to clear up a family mystery while my mom is still alive-but of course now things are more muddy than ever!

  29. nep*

    Does anyone else like when organic pumpkin is back on the shelves at Trader Joe’s?
    I’ve started to add it to my homemade bars. Works nicely.

  30. breadandbutterfly*

    I’ve never been crazy about the cars I drive: I learned to drive on a Volvo240 and then I had a Honda Civic. I now drive a Toyota Camry that I’m meh about. Today, I want to dive into the Auto World and figure out what cars rev my engine.

    What car do you have? What car would you love to have?

    If it helps, I definitely prefer hybrid or electric. I also have a big ol’ doggo, so something with a good-sized backseat would also be grrrrrrreat.

    1. Book Lover*

      I love my RAV4 hybrid, and it should feel familiar after a Camry. I think electric and hybrid are unlikely to be exciting to drive? But I could be wrong about that.

    2. Fiennes*

      I’m a person who never cared much about cars. Didn’t get what people meant by “loving” a car. I wanted something safe, affordable and not fugly–the end.

      Then I got a Prius. And I love it.

      It handles beautifully. Mileage is incredible. The interior is well designed, which means my lower-price model still looks luxe and modern, plus people regularly comment about how the car looks compact but feels quite roomy inside. Visibility is generally good save for standard hatchback issues. And my doggo thinks that hatchback was made for his personal enjoyment. I can’t recommend the car highly enough.

    3. Cookie D'oh*

      I’ve always driven Honda cars. Started with a hatchback in college. That car was destroyed in a fire at an auto shop so I upgraded to a Civic coupe. That one was totaled when I got rear ended. From there got an Accord. Drove that one until the front axle broke. I could have gotten it fixed, but it wasn’t really worth it. From there got a 2011 Accord. All of them have been used. I’ve never bought a brand new car.

      I’m not into getting a fancy car. I’ve seen people be so careless in parking lots opening their doors without looking and banging into the side. Once I was driving home and a rock cracked the windshield. Someone hit my husband’s car in the parking lot and badly damaged the bumper. He drove off, but miraculously the police were able to find the person.

    4. many bells down*

      My husband HATES cars and driving and has often lamented that teleportation doesn’t exist. About 18 months ago, we replaced his ancient Acura with a Nissan Leaf and he is SO in love with this car I’ve started calling it his mistress. He volunteers to drive everywhere now. In 15 years together I’ve ALWAYS been the one to drive places.

    5. Amadeo*

      None of these are hybrid/electric but I’ve had a Ranger, a Mustang and now an F150 and all three were a blast to drive. Unless the upcoming reintroduction of the Ranger is much different, I wouldn’t recommend it for a big dog though. You wouldn’t be able to carry anything else. The F150 has enough room with the seats folded up to fit a pretty decent sized crate in the back seat area. The F150 was my ‘dream car’ and I finally made enough money to get one and it’s been lovely.

    6. Red Reader*

      Doggos are flexible, I drove all over the eastern half of the country with my 75 lb bloodhound in a Smart :) she got me out of a speeding ticket in Fort Wayne once because the officer was so busy snorgling her ears and squealing PUPPY!! that he forgot why he pulled me over.

      Now that I have a total of 130 lbs of doggo and a household of four adults, I drive a Honda CR-V and love it.

      1. Red Reader*

        I drove a Honda Insight, which was a hybrid, for a while before I got the CR-V and she was a lot of fun. Nothing like seeing 52 mpg on your readout when gas prices are pushing close to $4/gallon :-P

    7. Monique*

      I drive a fiat 500, which might be too small for your doggo, although I once got a 160lb man in the back set and he was fine. It’s not a hybrid but it has excellent gas mileage. I really want a smart car but they’re really not practical in the winter where I live, and the fiat was the next best thing. I LOVE mine. She has a name and everything, and she’s perfect for me and my little doggo.

      1. Red Reader*

        My housemate has a Fiat 500 and took my 130 lb collection of doggos to the vet in it for boarding. Apparently the smallest one gets carsick in tiny cars, but everybody fit in!

    8. AnnaleighUK*

      BMW X5 – she wasn’t cheap but she’s big, reliable and bikes fit easily in the boot with the seats dropped so I imagine a doggo of large size would fit. She’s a diesel though but given how many miles I do for site visits at work and dragging me, fiancé and Stuff to triathlons every weekend, she’s perfect.

      One of my triathlon club mates has a Volvo XC60 which she loves. I think they’re available as hybrids now. Or you might want to look at the Mitsubishi Outlander (or whatever it’s called where you live) cuz that’s a plug in hybrid. I did think about getting one but BMW cut me a better deal.

    9. Anion*

      We just bought a 2014 Kia Soul last month, and I really like it. It sounds like it might work well for you; it’s fairly zippy, gets very good mileage, it’s fun to drive, and looks small & cute but is pretty roomy inside, with a nice big hatch/trunk area and backseats that fold down (the backseat is also surprisingly big).

      It’s not hybrid or electric, but it’s also cheaper than a hybrid/electric, and Kia’s warranty is really good. Plus I’ve never had salesmen etc. at a car dealership be as nice, friendly, and accommodating as these were–apparently that’s a Kia thing, not just my dealership (outside Dallas, if you’re nearby).

      My dream car is a classic car, but I’d also looove one of the new Challengers. I drool over them all the time. :-)

    10. Epiphyta*

      I am driving a 18-year-old Saturn three-door, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to source parts. It’s been terrific for hauling my son/his friends/their books and musical instruments/all three pets/a ton of other things in.

      But I don’t drive much now – son moved out four years ago, pets aged and passed, renting an apartment within walking distance of two grocery stores – so I’m hoping to keep it running long enough for the all-electric Mini to come off the assembly line.

      1. many bells down*

        Hah we are car twins. Well, almost, I’ve got a ’99 Saturn SL. My mechanic has warned me that there’s a few things he’s not going to be able to fix if and when they go out. Hoping it lasts until next year.

  31. ann perkins*

    I have a 401K question – just enrolled yesterday in my new company’s plan and filled out two different options:

    Contribution Rate – Employee Deferral
    Contribution Rate – Roth 401(k)

    I have no idea what the difference is but I put 5% for both so now assume 10% of my pre-tax paycheck will go into my 401K? Any help to understand would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Dan*

      You need to talk to your employer about what exactly you have. “Employee Deferral” isn’t a universal term — I have no idea what that is. A Roth 401k is a vehicle where you pay the taxes upfront, so your contributions are post tax, not pretax.

    2. Undine*

      Not quite. The employee deferral part is presumably pre-tax. But the roth part is post-tax. So you will pay tax now on the Roth part. When you retire and take money out, you will pay tax on the deferral part, that was pre-tax now, because you never paid any tax. But you won’t pay tax at least on the base part of the Roth part, because you already paid tax. “In addition, if you satisfy certain distribution conditions, then you won’t have to pay tax on the earnings either. ” If you are just starting out & are in a low tax bracket, then paying tax now will be less than paying tax later.

    3. CAA*

      It sounds like 5% of your pay will go into your traditional 401K. This is “pre-tax money”, so 5% gets subtracted from your income before it’s reported to the IRS and your state, and you don’t pay any income or social security tax on this amount now. You will pay income tax on this money and the growth when you withdraw it in the future. The idea is that if you’re earning enough to be in the 20% bracket now, then later on when you are retired and take it out, you will have much less income and will only be paying in the 10% or 15% bracket, so you are deferring the taxes until a time when your rate will be lower.

      Another 5% will go into your Roth 401K. This is “after tax” money, so you will pay ordinary income taxes on it now. However, this money and its earnings will not be taxed upon withdrawal if you are over age 59.5.

    4. Paula, with Two Kids*

      Generally, first one is pretax. When you retire, you will pay tax on the earnings and contributions you made. The second is post tax. When you retire, it will be tax free income, both earnings and contributions. The usual advice is to do roth when you think your income in retirement will be more than it is now, and pretax for when your income is high and tax obligations are high. It’s very difficult to judge those things. I mostly do Roth, because I like the idea of tax free income in retirement, what with not knowing what the world will be like.

      If your employer matches, to either account, it will be pre tax, and you will pay tax on that portion of your retirement funds.

      I am not an accountant…

    5. The JMP*

      A Roth 401(k) means you pay the taxes upfront (i.e. now) rather than when you withdraw the money after retirement.

      I think the employee deferral option probably means you will not be taxed on that income now, but will be when you withdraw it after retirement. You may want to read the fine print to make sure.

      There’s a lot more that goes into it in terms of investment strategy. Very generally speaking, people in lower tax brackets tend to benefit more from a Roth (because they’re paying the taxes now, rather than when they’re in a higher tax bracket) but your personal circumstances could be different.

    6. Five after Midnight*

      Disclaimer: While I’m a CPA, the below is only a very brief high-level summary. I recommend that you seek professional advice related to your specific circumstances.

      Deferral – “regular” 401(k) which means that your 5% contribution is deducted from your taxable income and your current federal _income_ tax is reduced; you will still pay SS/MC tax on your total gross income; whether this contribution reduces your state income and income tax depends on your state; you don’t pay any income taxes on the annual earnings (while the money sits in the 401(k) and grows), but you pay income taxes (no SS/MC taxes, because you already paid them when making contribution) on anything you withdraw; once you reach age 59.5 you can start withdrawing without penalties as any withdrawals prior to that age will be taxed _and_ penalized (there are very limited exceptions); once you reach age 70.5 you will be _required_ to withdraw certain minimum amount based on age and account balance; taxability at the state level depends on the state you _live_ in when making withdrawals.

      Roth – Roth 401(k) which means that you pay income tax on your 5% contribution now so there is no impact on your current federal _income_ tax; you also pay SS/MC tax on your total gross income as with regular 401(k); you don’t pay any income taxes on the annual earnings (while the money sits in the Roth 401(k) and grows) _and_ you pay no income taxes on anything you withdraw (since you paid taxes on the contributions); unlike with the regular 401(k), there are no minimum required distributions, and you can withdraw your contributions (but not the earnings) at any time after the first 5 years without tax and penalties (of course that will significantly reduce the growth potential of your account); Roth 401(k) contributions are not deductible and the withdrawals are not taxable at the state level, IIRC.

      Your employer’s contribution will _always_ be regular/traditional 401(k) because you have no opportunity to pay tax on those contribution now in order to have them treated as Roth 401(k).

      My general recommendation, but again YMMV, seek advice related to your circumstances, is to max out your contributions to retirement account via Roth accounts (401k or IRA) first, and to contribute at least enough to take advantage of the _full_ employer match – it’s free money after all – so if your employer match the first 6% of your salary, don’t stop at 4% contribution. Your 10% is a substantial percentage, but if you can swing it, I would increase even that (2017 max amount is $18k). The recommendation is because of both the tax treatment and withdrawal flexibility.

      Also, note:
      @Undine – in Roth account, under normal circumstances, you don’t pay any taxes on withdrawals, both contributions and earnings;
      @CCA – state deductions depend on the state; you still pay SS/MC taxes now, regardless of type of contribution; you can withdraw Roth original contributions (but not earnings) at any time w/o taxes/penalties after you had the account for 5 years;

    7. atexit8*

      1. Contribute to your employer’s match max.
      If you employer matches up to 4%, then you put in 4%.

      2. The mutual funds you choose are very important.
      I choose index funds.

      Unless you anticipate paying more taxes at retirement than now, I wouldn’t be doing the Roth 401(k).

      1. Artemesia*

        And put as much away as you possibly can. 10% of your income should be a minimum. I say this from the other end. We are retired and very comfortable, live in an expensive city with great cultural options, travel etc etc and we never made fabulous money, but we always lived below our means and put away a fair amount every single year. It makes such a difference to not be worried about money in your old age.

    8. ronda*

      there is also the thought that you should have accumulate a balance in both type of accounts to give you flexibility when you are retired on how much taxable income you are generating with distributions from you retirement accounts.

      401K plans can have some rules specific to your employer, but genereally
      You have to take distibutions after you are 70 1/2 , and can start taking distributions without penalties at about 59 1/2 on the deferred
      For the Roth you dont have to take out, but your heirs would. In a Roth IRA you can take out contributions after you have been in the plan for 5 years, but not any earnings on the contribution (without penalties) until 59 1/2. The 401K version might have different rules… they should provide you with plan documents stating what those rules are.
      When you leave your employment, you can roll your balances out of your employer plan to IRAs (traditional and Roth) at an investment company like Vanguard or Fidelity. This gives you the option to invest in a wider range of funds and often lower cost funds than most employers have. You can also consolidate balances from multiple previous employers for easier record keeping.

      Depending on your tax bracket, you may want to maximize the deferral contributions to lower your taxes now, ‘specially if you are able to get in a lower tax bracket (capital gains tax rates also change based on tax bracket). you can defer about 18,000/year if you are under 50 and more if you are over 50. I am not sure about the roth 401k contribution limit, cause I never had one of those, but my guess is the limit is on the combo of both, like it is with IRAs

  32. Ruth (UK)*

    After barely running at all (ok, not running at all) for a few months (since about may), I’m back into it… sort of! This time I’ve decided to try a marathon (there’s one I’m planning to enter, which is in March, but entries aren’t open yet). I ran a half-marathon in April but that’s the longest distance I’ve ever run (so far).

    My running fitness is way down right now from what it was in April, but I’m trying to feel positive about it. I change from feeling like I’ll easily be ready vs picturing myself dropping out after like 15 miles. I’m also trying to find / work out my motivation. I don’t really have any particular strong specific thing motivating me. I’m not being sponsored, I don’t have [m]any running friends (I mean, I’ve met people at the parkrun etc who I have become on friendly terms with, but no one in my regular social circle is especially into running – some of them do occasional fitness runs, but none of them are interested in races or running events). I also don’t think I know anyone who would be interested in coming along or supporting me on the day either as it’s not super local (it’s about 2 hours away, and I’ll go on the train) and it’s not a massive well known one that’ll have a big crowd atmosphere or anything.

    It’s a bit of a personal thing – I kind of enjoy running, and I like feeling that I am in good physical shape and I sort of like the training aspect, and I just like feeling that I’ve accomplished something I guess. I’m a bit worried I’ll start doubting my reasons for caring enough to finish right about the time when I’m feeling especially tired while trying to run it…

    1. Ktelzbeth*

      I sympathize with the feelings of not caring enough to finish. Somewhere in the middle of the bike leg of almost every triathlon I do, I start wondering why I am out there and why I think triathlons are a fun hobby. I imagine stopping and letting the support vehicle take me back to town. I remind myself how hard I worked on my training and how good I’ll feel when I finish and tell myself I don’t want to let it all go to waste. And I just keep peddling. Sooner or later I’m there and I do feel good. That’s how I do it. Some people also find it helps to have a mantra to repeat. Mine is “I can and I will.” I believe you can run a marathon and you will, if you decide it’s the thing for you.

    2. Ann O.*

      You have us here! I remember your running adventures. Your 1/2 marathon time was really solid from what I remember.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Thanks. My half marathon time was 2 hours and 1 minute.

        Interestingly, a person with the same first and last name as me (I have a common name) ran the same race in 1 hour and 42 minutes. A bunch of people I know looked up my result and congratulated me on her time. I spell my surname with a double letter (think like Alison Vs Allison) but her way is more common and people usually spell mine wrong even when copying it etc.

  33. TreeGeek*

    Celebrating the fact that the house is finally free of all in-laws. 10 days with an extroverted (all the rest of us are very introverted), passive-aggressive, guilt-trippy MIL was about 8 days too many. Truly good people, but that was way too much togetherness.

    Spouse and I are rejoicing in our once-again quiet house. May everyone else’s weekends be peaceful as well.

    1. Artemesia*

      Yikes 10 days. One of the best things we ever did was move to the city my daughter and her family live in when we retired. We can take the grandkids for a night every week, get together for dinner or a Sunday out etc etc and I can have lunch with my daughter every week or two — and all without driving anyone nuts. My folks lived 2000 miles away and so every trip was toooo much; I enjoyed them but after about 3 days of incessant neediness — because they seldom saw us — I was practically catatonic. I feel your pain.

    2. TreeGeek*

      3-ish days would be my preference, but this was the first time they’ve visited since we moved 1300 miles away (from our old city where we were “only” 800 miles away), and there was a birthday and a special activity to be worked into the trip, so it was much longer than usual.

      But still…”Thank God and Greyhound!”

  34. dreams for plans*

    How do you determine where to live when you have a partner?

    My story: There is a chance I might be offered a position roughly 25 miles away from where my fiancè works. We currently live in a house that is a 10min drive to work for him. As I’m a freelancer at the moment (trying to get a full-time job), my schedule is a bit more flexible and, while I don’t like it, I tolerate the 30 minute each way commute to campus two nights a week for my grad classes. However, this job (which is truly a dream job) would be a 30min drive with no traffic and easily an hour with traffic. My partner, who is excited about this potential job, Does Not Want To Move should I receive an offer.

    AAM Fam, we’ve spent past 4 years living in places that are convenient to his work place (he was able to walk to work in the last 2 places). Should I get the job, my time would be much more limited than his (grad classes, studying for an exam, continuing ~10hours/week freelancing, I do all the domestic chores/grocery shopping/food prep/dog care, etc). also, there’s a chance I might actually outearn him.

    Am I right in feeling frustrated that he won’t even entertain the idea of moving somewhere that’s between our two workplaces? Have you been in a similar situation? How did you resolve it?

    1. KR*

      I would be frustrated as well. Moving does not mean that he has to give up his job, it just means that he has to be the inconvienened one for once. Is there somewhere you can move that would be closer to your work and school but not be unreasonable in terms of commute for him? I think this is totally worth having a discussion with him about. Tell him about the pattern where he’s been the one with a small commute and how the current breakdown on domestic duties would make your day really hectic combined with school (maybe tell him how a ssampleweek would go with all your new commuting and commitments) and tell him it is not tenable for you, and it’s his turn to make a sacrifice for your career. I wouldn’t recommend moving unless you definitely have the job though.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Obviously I don’t know the guy, but as you describe him, he’s fine with you being inconvenienced to make things easier for him, but not vice versa. (He won’t even consider moving? You do all the domestic chores? He doesn’t care that your time will be more limited?)

      I’m sure you love him, but having BTDT and got the divorce papers, I strongly recommend against marrying anyone whose attitude is that only he gets a veto.

    3. Book Lover*