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home : columns : dear harriette July 8, 2020

Protesting in the time of coronavirus
DEAR HARRIETTE: I really want to go out and participate in the Black Lives Matter protests, but I also have been taking quarantine very seriously as I believe it saves lives. How do I balance these conflicting principles and decide whether I should protest or stay home? -- Black Lives Matter
Tuesday, July 7, 2020


Ex-boyfriend bringing new women to apartment
DEAR HARRIETTE: I broke up with my boyfriend about six months ago, but he still lives in my apartment. I know it sounds crazy, but I needed a roommate to split the rent with me; when we broke up, it just seemed easier for him to stay -- at least for a while.
Monday, July 6, 2020

Harriett hope for freedom and equality for all
Happy Independence Day! This is the day so many years ago when our country proclaimed its freedom. For many, it was a happy day. For some, freedom remained elusive. Today, in 2020, our country is grappling with this notion of independence and what it actually means for all citizens. The contemplation is worthwhile even if it can be difficult.

At times like these, I think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He said: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." He added, "No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

Isn't that precisely what we have been witnessing in these past few weeks?

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The videoconference debate continues
Clearly, I hit a nerve with the discussion about videoconferencing from home and whether you should turn your camera on. Because so many of you continue to write in about this, I have chosen two more letters to share with you. Working from home and navigating professional engagements without the supports and rhythms that we had only a few months ago has changed the dynamic of our lives dramatically. We are all working to figure it out. Here are some of your ideas on this hot-button topic.
Friday, July 3, 2020

Family grows testy in close quarters
Being able to spend more time with my family during quarantine has been great. However, as time wears on, we are all beginning to get on each other's nerves, and fights between family members have increased. I don't want our home to be a hostile environment or family tensions to rise during this time. How can we work with this limited space and these restrictions to make a more civil and understanding home environment?
Thursday, July 2, 2020

Student's fraternity plans alarm sister
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a politically active 27-year-old woman. My younger brother, who is just about to enter college, informed me that he wants to join a fraternity. I actively protested against fraternities during my time in college, as I believe they promote toxic masculinity and are spaces of sexual harassment. I also have several friends who were harassed by fraternity members during their time at college. I don't want my brother to be influenced by this toxic environment, so how should I dissuade him from joining? Or should I allow him to make his own mistakes and simply talk to him about his experiences while in the fraternity as they come up? -- Open His Eyes
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Student feels ready to settle down now
DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I am ready to get married and have kids, but I'm only 19. I am still in college, but I think that is what I'd rather be doing. Most of my family members started their families very young, and I feel like it's the right thing to do. I know I am young and that's very discouraged nowadays, and I also know that these are important years for growth and self-discovery. Should I go with my heart and try and start a family after graduation, or should I wait? -- Ready for Marriage
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Immigrant requests primer on race relations
I am a Russian immigrant who came to the U.S. seven years ago as a refugee when I was 16. I have always had trouble wrapping my head around American race relations, as they are so different from those of my home country. As the current escalations on the issue of police brutality around the country happen, I want to engage in activism and important conversations, but I have no idea where to start or what my opinions are. How do I inform myself and engage with a discourse that is not as personal to me?
Monday, June 29, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: Every summer, I invite my niece and nephew from Italy to come stay with me and my family. Travel hasn't really opened up yet, so this summer hasn't been an issue, but I anticipate that travel will be relaxed soon enough. I am afraid to have them come.
Saturday, June 27, 2020

Co-worker steals professional ideas
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a co-worker who is slick as all get-out, and I'm sick of her. We work closely together. Whenever we have brainstorming meetings, which is part of our job, in the next staff meeting she pipes up and offers my ideas to the group as if they were her own.
Friday, June 26, 2020

Suburban friends still socialize during lockdown
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have become a recluse during this quarantine period. I thought everybody was doing the same thing, but then I spoke to some friends in other parts of the country, and learned that we are having completely different experiences. I live in the big city, and we have been on lockdown. Officials have urged us not to go out, and I haven't. I have ordered my food in and everything.
Thursday, June 25, 2020

Suburban friends still socialize during lockdown
I have become a recluse during this quarantine period. I thought everybody was doing the same thing, but then I spoke to some friends in other parts of the country, and learned that we are having completely different experiences. I live in the big city, and we have been on lockdown. Officials have urged us not to go out, and I haven't. I have ordered my food in and everything.
Thursday, June 25, 2020

After dating a year, boyfriend realizes he's gay
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been going out with this sweet guy from my high school for a year now. During coronoavirus, everything got weird because we haven't been able to see each other. During one of our many "talks" on Snapchat, he told me that he doesn't want to date anymore because he's gay. What? Never in all the time that we have been together has he done anything to make me think he is gay.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Readers offer suggestions for unemployed nanny
I made a mistake -- even after doing some research -- on an important and timely topic, so I want to share reader feedback that may be of value to you.
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Reader vexed by man's accolades
I just saw an announcement for a promotion and award for a man I have known for many years. When I knew him, he was a cheat. Among other things, he "bought" something from me and never paid for it. I followed up multiple times, and he just blew me off, saying he was broke and he would pay me when he could. Now I see his face glowing with his accolades, and it turns my stomach.
Monday, June 22, 2020

Employer not taking COVID-19 concerns seriously
As two co-workers and I return to our five-person office during our state's Phase 1 reopening, no one but me is complying with basic COVID-19 health safety recommendations for 6-feet social distancing and wearing masks. (One other worker remains at home because she doesn't have child care resources for her school-age children -- a different, but all-too-common problem.) The owner of the business worked alone in the office daily throughout the governor's stay-at-home orders.
Saturday, June 20, 2020

Underemployed reader needs attitude adjustment
I used to work in TV production, and I loved my job. A few years ago, when the economy was down, I lost my job, and I have been foundering ever since. I now work with a temp agency doing clerical work. I hate this job, but I haven’t been able to find anything else. I think my attitude is getting in my way.
Friday, June 19, 2020

Reader's vandalized apartment causes concern
For the past few weeks, my apartment has been the focus of somebody's wrath. Someone has been running up to my door and crashing into it. The sound is frightening, but I have yet to see who's doing it. By the time I get to the door, the person is long gone, and we don't have security cameras. Recently, someone spray-painted my door, and on another occasion, someone sprayed what looked like fire extinguisher fluid all over it.
Thursday, June 18, 2020

Mom and brother won't follow homeowner's rules
My mother and brother both live in my house with me. I told my mom last year when they moved in that I was going to run the air conditioning all summer, and I did not want the windows or doors open -- period. My mom likes to have her window wide open all year. We ended up arguing about the windows being open while the air conditioning is running pretty much all summer long. I told her this year that I'm going to run the air, windows shut, no discussion about it. She already has been arguing that it shouldn't affect the temperature in the house and has opened her windows anyway. I have a ranch-style house, so it's not like she is in an upstairs bedroom where it is particularly hotter than the rest of the house. I keep the air at 70 degrees.
Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Readers respond to harriette's videoconference advice
I received a lot of mail about my column about videoconferences and the fact that I think it is smart for everyone to show their faces at least once during these calls as a way to create better connections. The following letters give a sense of the range of comments that you had -- all of which are valid.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Black mother fears for her teenage son
I don't know what to say to my son about all of the stuff happening in our country. I am a black mother with a black teenager. I am afraid every time he goes outside. I have actually appreciated the quarantine because I had a reason to keep him inside, but that can't last. I am at a loss as to how to protect my boy. I know you don't have any magic words, but can you give any guidance?
Monday, June 15, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a neighbor who likes to bring candy to my children. He doesn't have his own kids, so I know he is doing this to connect with children he loves. And my kids do love him. But I don't give them candy. I told him that the first time he gave it to them, but he hasn't gotten the message.
Saturday, June 13, 2020

Reader donates money without the benefit of write-off
DEAR HARRIETTE: I belong to a social club. Since sheltering at home began and restaurants and stuff have been closed, they, too, have shut down. Management invited members to contribute to a fund for the staff. I thought that was nice; they've had no income, and most of them want to be artists, so they had nowhere to turn during this time. I chose to give what I could to them rather than to a random charity.
Friday, June 12, 2020

Neighbor reluctant to share reason for illness
I heard a doctor likening the coronavirus to the AIDS crisis the other day. At first I thought they were crazy; obviously they are very different things. But I listened some more, and what this doctor was saying is that there was a terrible stigma attached to people with AIDS, so much so that people were reluctant to say that they had the disease. Now that same thing seems true for people who have COVID-19.
Thursday, June 11, 2020

Asthmatic woman questions who to believe
I hate the back-and-forth in the media between the liberal press and the conservative press. I decided to watch both to try to figure out my view on things, but now I am even more confused. Both sides make really strong arguments, even about going outside now that the government is slowly letting up on restrictions.
Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Couple must set boundaries before baby arrives
I am almost 30 years old, and I am having a baby. My partner and I are in a good relationship. Even though we didn't plan to get pregnant, we are figuring it out together. I'm not going to lie, though: It's a lot to think about and manage.
Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Man has hard time keeping in touch
I have a hard time keeping in touch with people. I have gone months and even years without calling people I really care about. It's not because I don't love them. More, it's that they aren't around, and I just don't think about them. I have even gone weeks without calling my mother. Obviously I love her. But I'm busy with my life, and time just slips by.
Monday, June 8, 2020

Worker needs help with technology
I work in a youth-based industry even though I am not young. I keep up my style, so I look fairly young, all things considered. People always tell me I look young for my age. But that all falls away whenever technology comes into play. I know how to use Word, but that's about the extent of it. When my company introduces a new app or other tool to make life easier, I struggle to figure out how to install it, let alone use it.
Saturday, June 6, 2020

Family should limit exposure to neighbor
My next-door neighbor is very chatty and used to come over all the time -- too much for my liking -- after work to chat. I shut that down after the lockdown started, which made her angry. She said that since we live next door to each other, we should be safe. But she doesn't stay home -- she can't. She works for the city and has to go to work every day. To me, that means she could be exposed to anything.
Friday, June 5, 2020

Undeclared workers cannot file for unemployment
I have a wonderful nanny who has been taking care of my daughter for three years. When the quarantine began, we told her not to come to work because that was the rule. We continued to pay her. Since that time, I have lost my job. No one knows when these restrictions will end, and my husband and I don't think we can continue to pay her salary. We love her and know she counts on this money, but we are quickly depleting our savings. We didn't declare her salary on our taxes, so I don't think she is eligible for unemployment insurance. How should we handle this?
Thursday, June 4, 2020

Sibling worries about sister's pill stash
Since we have been living in quarantine, my older sister and brother have come back to live with us. I went into my sister's room the other day and noticed that she had a stash of weed and pills in her room. I don't want to be a tattletale, but it kind of freaked me out. She has been acting weird, but I just thought she was mad because she had to stay with us instead of at college. Weed is one thing, but she had Oxy too. I think I should tell my mother, but I don't want to cause a huge family fight. What should I do?
Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Teen needs new friend to hang out with
My best friend and I have been spending a lot of time together lately. Because we live near each other, our parents have allowed us to visit only each other during quarantine. But now my friend is going to her country house with her family, and I will be left here. I am so sad. I am an only child, and it meant so much to me to have one real contact outside of my family. I know this may sound melodramatic, but I'm a teenager and I need to see my friends. What can I do? Should I try to convince my mom to let someone else become my hangout friend?
Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Symptoms suggest it's time to get tested
I have not been feeling well for the past few days, and it has got me scared. What with the COVID-19 virus being everywhere, I wonder if I have it. My stomach has been sick. I can't seem to hold food down, but I am still doing my job and taking care of my family. On the news, they say just to stay home if you don't feel well unless you have a high fever. I don't have a fever at all, but I feel like hell. I am worried that if I am sick I will infect my family. Staying home does not seem like the best idea, to be honest. But I don't know where I can get a test or anything. What should I do?
Monday, June 1, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have an annual subscription to my local theater company. This used to be a favorite activity for my husband and me, but everything is canceled now. The company recently sent me a letter asking if I would donate the money I spent for the subscription so that it can try to stay in business.
Saturday, May 30, 2020

Teenage son refuses to take showers
DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm having a hard time getting my teenage son to get up and take a shower. I don't mean every day; I'm talking once a week. When I pester him, he blows me off, saying he's saving water, or asking why it matters anyway; it's not like he's going anywhere. Really? Basic hygiene is still important. And the doctors say being clean is part of what keeps us safe. How can I get him to snap back into being responsible for himself? -- Hygiene
Friday, May 29, 2020

Employee working from home keeps gaining weight
Working from home every day and staring into a computer screen is making me nuts. I feel like I sit all day long. And I have the extra weight to prove it. It's horrible. I don't even want to get on the scale to see the damage I've done to my body. I'm mortified by the thought. I'm grateful to be working, but this isn't sustainable. I am on teleconferences all day long, and I am forced to sit at my desk, not moving for hours. My smartwatch screams at me to stand up, but I keep sitting because that's where the meetings happen -- on my computer. What can I do to take better care of myself? The end of this way of working is nowhere in sight. I don't know if I am going to survive it.
Thursday, May 28, 2020

Son's college plans remain in flux
My son is scheduled to start college this fall at a local university, but we aren't sure what is going to happen next. He is not having a graduation from high school because there can't be any social gatherings. Now we wonder if he will actually go to college. Fall is right around the corner. I can't imagine that they will figure out safe distancing in the classroom by then. Should we let him defer a year? Even with that, though, what will he do? He's a young man, and he needs structure and direction. I don't know how to guide him right now.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Married couple can't connect even in quarantine
My husband and I barely get along. It has been like this for years. He retreats into the other room and watches TV while I cook dinner, look after the kids and then sit down to relax in the living room to watch TV -- never the same program and rarely in the same room. It has become more noticeable now that we both are at home all day long. Even as we are in the same space 24/7, we hardly ever talk about anything meaningful or sit together in the same room. How did we get to this point? I have other friends telling me how much fun they are having with their husbands during this time. What can I do to spice things up?
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Mother deteriorating during quarantine
My mom lives in a retirement community, and she has been quarantined for more than two months now. She can't come out of her tiny apartment for any reason. They drop off food packages to her each day and pick up the trash every week. We hired an attendant to organize her meds and to give her a shower, so there is one person who puts her eyes on my mom. But she is deteriorating. When we talk on FaceTime, we can see that she's not doing well. She no longer puts on street clothes. She doesn't fix her hair or put on makeup. I am so worried that if we aren't allowed to see her soon, she will perish. But the community is strict, and they will not allow my family to enter the building. What can I do?
Monday, May 25, 2020

Reader worried about going outside
I have been staying at home for weeks, only venturing out occasionally to go to the grocery store, although I have mostly organized that for delivery. Now that things are loosening up, I'm still concerned about how much I should go outside. I have a couple of medical conditions, and I am very worried that if I catch this disease, I won't survive. I haven't told anyone in my neighborhood or my job that I have these health challenges. I don't want people to look at me with pity. I manage my life just fine, thank you. But I don't know how well I will do if I put myself out in the general population.
Saturday, May 23, 2020

Reader questions returning back to normal
I have been staying at home for weeks, only venturing out occasionally to go to the grocery store, although I have mostly organized that for delivery. Now that things are loosening up, I'm still concerned about how much I should go outside. I have a couple of medical conditions, and I am very worried that if I catch this disease, I won't survive. I haven't told anyone in my neighborhood or my job that I have these health challenges. I don't want people to look at me with pity. I manage my life just fine, thank you. But I don't know how well I will do if I put myself out in the general population.
Friday, May 22, 2020

Co-worker wants to be invited to virtual happy hours
Now that people are hosting virtual parties all the time, there is a whole new social scene to worry about. I just learned that a group of my co-workers who used to hang out on Friday nights after work sometimes host a virtual cocktail party, and they haven't invited me. Now, to be fair, I didn't go every week to their gathering because I have a kid and I often had to get home early. But now that I'm already home, I could easily join them. I don't want to be left out, but I'm not sure how to handle this. Is it OK for me to ask if they would invite me the next time they get together?
Thursday, May 21, 2020

Parent shocked by teen's TV choices
I walked into my teenage daughter's room and saw that she was watching a program that had pretty overt sexual activity in it. When we talked, she told me that almost all of the teenage-focused programs these days have nudity and some kind of sexual activity. I was aghast. My daughter is a good girl, as teenagers go. I don't think she is engaged in sexual activity herself yet, but I don't want her to be able to see some of the things that are shown on these programs. She showed me some examples of popular teen shows on the streaming services, and she was right. ALL of them had sexual activity in them. I don't want to ban her from TV. Honestly, I don't know if that would really work anyway. What can I do to protect her?
Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Co-workers turn off video during conferences
My company has videoconference calls every day, often several times during the day. I have noticed that the women hardly ever show their faces. We just see their names across a blank screen, even when they are talking. The men typically show their faces. I imagine this is because nobody can get to the hairdresser or any other grooming place, and women don't feel pulled together now. I wonder what the etiquette is for participating in these calls. My gut says it would be much better for people to be fully participatory, meaning showing their faces.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Grandchild wonders what to do about funeral
My grandma died this week, and it is so sad. We weren't able to visit her in her nursing home or in the hospital because of the rules about COVID-19. Now it's time for us to put her to rest. I can't decide what to do. I could host a tiny funeral with 10 guests or fewer. Or I could wait indefinitely to host a bigger event after the gathering restrictions are relaxed. Or the funeral home suggested a virtual event. I don't know what to do. What do you recommend?
Monday, May 18, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have had a lot of time to think about my life while I've been stuck at home. Recently, I have been having nightmares. Some of the things I did in my youth were just awful. As I have flashes of scenes when I was rude or downright mean to people, I shudder to think that was me. But it was.
Saturday, May 16, 2020

Husband won't stop berating spouse
DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I'm constantly under attack in my marriage. Whenever my husband calls out my name, I cringe because I expect him to disparage me about something. It could be the littlest thing. Like, if he can't find something, he sharply calls out my name and speaks in a berating tone, asking where the thing is. If he is talking about something that I don't know about, he will look at me with his eyes big and wide, suck his teeth and ask how it is possible that I don't know that thing. Whatever the topic, usually he treats me like I'm stupid if I can't immediately join the conversation exactly where he is or have the solution to his problem. This may seem small, buy I really don't know what to do. I am tired of always being under his surveillance. How can I get him to be kind to me? -- Under Fire
Friday, May 15, 2020

New employee needs technological help
I have a new job, but I am worried that I am in over my head because of the technology. I don't really know how to use the different programs that we have been asked to use on a daily basis. I didn't lie about it when I took the job. Nobody asked me. I think they assumed that everybody knows how to use things like Microsoft Office and Excel. I hardly know how to use the computer. I'm not so old; it's just that in my previous jobs I mainly worked with my hands. I wasn't in an office, and I never learned this stuff. I need this job and need to figure out how to do these basic things before I get fired. I'm afraid to talk to my boss about it. What should I do?
Thursday, May 14, 2020

Reader doesn't see point of virtual happy hours
Some of my friends have been trying to get me to participate in virtual cocktail parties with them. It just seems silly to me, sitting around at home looking at my computer screen and drinking remotely with a group of people. Yuck! My best friend keeps urging me to try it. She reminded me that we used to have regular get-togethers with our friend group, and this will be as close as we can get to that. I see her point, but I don't think it will be fun. It seems contrived to me. How can I back out of this without hurting her feelings?
Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Man's declaration of love confuses happy reader
I just received the call that I have been waiting for all my life. The man I have loved more than any other called me to profess his love for me. He told me I was his family, for real. That all of his family knows about me. That he loves me from the depths of his being. I have loved him since I was in college, but he was a player and never made time for me to be his partner. He was respectful and did not dog me the way he did some of the women in his life, but he also never committed.
Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Roommates want to sublet apartment
I have two roommates, but both of them took off after the illness started spreading in our town. We live in Brooklyn. Now that a lot of time has passed and they are staying with their parents, they want to sublet their rooms so that they will not have so many bills. I am nervous about this. I can't afford to pay for the whole apartment, but I don't want to bring unknown people into what is currently a coronavirus-free space. I want to make them get tested before they move in if I have to take them. I'm not sure how that works, though. I don't think there are any laws on this yet. But do you think it's worth asking?
Monday, May 11, 2020

Reader needs sweater suggestions
I have quite a few cashmere sweaters that I wear in the winter. Even as we have been at home, I keep wearing them, and it's time to get them cleaned. But the dry cleaners near me are all closed. It is still cool enough where I live to continue wearing them, but they are soiled. I have heard that you can hand-wash cashmere, but I'm nervous. I would be so mad if they shrank or lost their color. Even if I'm not going to wear them anymore this season, I don't want to put them away dirty -- they will be sure to be eaten by moths. What do you recommend?
Friday, May 8, 2020

Reader needs motivation to get in shape
I have a friend who posts on social media regularly. Over the past few months, he has lost about 40 pounds. He works out every day and looks amazing. I am inspired by him -- but not enough to actually get up and do anything for myself.
Thursday, May 7, 2020

Reader wants to purge wardrobe
Now that we are not going out at all, I am realizing that I have way too many clothes. I do love fashion, but since I have nowhere to go, I have been taking a visual inventory of my wardrobe, and it's ridiculously large. I want to purge. There's absolutely no reason anybody should have all of this stuff. Part of me just wants to dump it. The practical side says I should hold on to essentials because when the world does open up, I will need some basic things. I don't want to give away too much and have to end up making new purchases. How can I figure out what to discard?
Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Family sheltering in place together needs more rules
I have three grown children, and we have all been living together again since the government issued a stay-at-home order. In some ways, it has been nice having them around. We are getting to talk about all kinds of things that didn't ever come up on our short check-in phone calls before. On the other hand, it has been tough with all of the personalities. My husband and I don't get much quiet time like we used to enjoy since the kids moved out. I feel like we need to enforce a few more house rules so that we don't end up driving one another crazy. Do you have any ideas? We live in a small house, so it is hard for us to be completely separated
Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Reader wants to bring mom home to stay safe
My mother lives in a retirement home, and I am so worried about her. There have been reports all over the country about the virus infiltrating old folks' homes and killing lots of people. I feel like I should bring my mother home with me, but I'm worried that she might not stay healthy. My husband goes to work outside of the home every day. He practices social distancing to the extent that he can, but he's a contractor, and he works with people. My mother is in her 90s and in fragile health. That's why I want her out of the retirement building, but I'm not sure that my house is safer. How can I figure that out?
Monday, May 4, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: A family member called to ask if he could borrow some money because he lost his job and doesn't have enough money to pay his rent. I know this is happening everywhere, and I feel so sorry for him. I'm concerned, though, that if I lend him money, it will just weigh on both of us when he can't pay it back. Part of me feels like I should just give him what I can afford to give, even though it's not his whole rent check.
Saturday, May 2, 2020

Influencers' friend doesn't want to make connections
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am friends with a few social media influencers. They are my real friends, but random people I know will call me to try to get in touch with them. They want a hookup for a public appearance or an album or whatever. I do not feel comfortable connecting people like that, for the most part. When it makes sense, I will introduce people, but I'm tired of always being asked. How can I put my foot down on this? These are my genuine friends. I don't want them to think that I am "pimping" them off to my contacts. -- Drawing the Line
Friday, May 1, 2020

Parent must clue in kids to realities of losing job
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been giving my kids an allowance since they were little -- not a lot of money, but consistent money. Now that I have lost my job and unemployment has not kicked in yet, I'm worried about how to keep up this simple practice. Obviously it's more pressing to make sure there is enough food to eat, but I don't want to walk away from the stability that I created in the family.
Thursday, April 30, 2020

Teenage daughter angry about parent's strictness
My teenage daughter keeps asking to go out and hang with her friends. I have been strict, requiring her to stay at home with me each day during our stay-at-home order. I have followed the guidelines to the letter. But one of her best friends goes out with another friend almost every day. They visit each other's homes. They take walks. And they end up having a lot of fun. We do not live near them, and I don't think that's a good idea anyway, but my daughter is furious that I am so strict. What do you think about my rules?
Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Reader wonders when it's ok to give money
I go outside once a week to buy food and go to the pharmacy (when necessary). I don't spend much time outside, and I'm happy to report that there aren't a lot of people outside. What I am noticing, though, is an increase in the number of people who are begging. Many of the people look no different from me or my friends. The other ones are out there, too -- more seasoned beggars who ask for change or a dollar. I am conflicted about what I should give to these people. I know that life is getting tougher for many people, but it's true for me, too. How can I share with some of these people and stay true to my belief that they should figure out how to take care of themselves?
Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Son calls mother by her first name
My son is 6 years old, and he recently started calling me by my first name. I am old-fashioned: I want him to call me Mommy. It's like one day he woke up and realized my name isn't actually "Mommy," and he went around the house chanting it. The more I protest, the more he says my name. What should I do? I want to teach him to have good manners. When I was growing up, I would have gotten a spanking for calling my mother by her first name. I am not sure how to handle this.
Saturday, April 25, 2020

Friend stuck in the middle wants reconciliation
Two of my friends have been at a standoff for years, and I'm sick of it. I told each of them that I think it's time to resolve their disagreement. Whatever they do, I don't want to have to listen to them talking about each other's faults anymore. It's like they are stuck in the past, back when they hurt each other's feelings, and they can't let go of that. I know that it can be hard to forgive when bad things happen, but I would hate to see them go to their graves without getting over this. They were very close friends for more than 40 years. A big hiccup in their friendship has led to years now of tight lips. What can I do to help?
Friday, April 24, 2020

Apartment-dweller bored stuck inside during quarantine
My husband and I have watched just about every show on TV, it seems. Even though there are lots of options now, what with cable and those other streaming services -- and we have them all, it feels like -- I can't find anything I want to watch. We are bored out of our minds. We live in a high-rise apartment building, and we have no backyard. We have nowhere to go during this quarantine. What can we do that will bring us joy?
Thursday, April 23, 2020

Charitable reader questions giving after layoff
I have contributed to a number of charities over the years. I feel good about that, because I want to support causes that I believe in. But I am uncertain as to what I can give right now that I have been laid off from my job. I am single, and I live on my own. I have no idea when I will get another job. I feel horrible that I cannot be generous right now, but I worry that if I continue to pledge to the 10 charities that I normally give money to that I won't have enough for myself. What should I do?
Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Overwhelmed intern has dropped the ball
A young lady has been interning with me for a month or so. She has been consistent in some areas and flaky in others. My job is to teach her how to be professional and what she can learn about my industry. She is a college student, and now that her classes are all remote, she is freaking out. She has missed all of the deadlines I have given her for projects. I just heard from her that she feels overwhelmed because her schedule has changed so much. Her tone was worrisome. On one hand, I am annoyed that she has dropped the ball on things she agreed to do. On the other hand, I feel like I need to check in on her mental health. But since we cannot be together, I'm not sure what to do.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Staying safe in the age of coronavirus
I'm getting more and more scared. I learned that several people who live in my apartment complex have come down with COVID-19, and two have died. I have been following all of the rules, staying inside and going out only to get food and medicine. I even stopped taking walks in the neighborhood because I am afraid of walking by someone and breathing in their air.
Monday, April 20, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: My mom lives in an assisted-living community, and they are all shut down now. We can't visit, and my mom says she's bored out of her mind. I get that. My family and I feel the same way. What I learned, though, is that my mom has been going to town buying all kinds of unnecessary stuff on QVC and HSN. I pay her bills, and I just got an alert that she had spent beyond her credit limit. I am mortified. On top of everything else, now I have a huge bill to pay for stuff she doesn't need. How can I get my mom to stop shopping? -- Daily Fix
Saturday, April 18, 2020

Betrothed questions when to reschedule the wedding
DEAR HARRIETTE: I had to postpone my wedding because of COVID-19. Just a week before it was scheduled, my city stopped issuing marriage licenses. We had people coming from all over the United States and even a few family members from overseas.
Friday, April 17, 2020

World Almanac
Today is the 107th day of 2020 and the 29th day of spring.
Thursday, April 16, 2020

Woman's social media rant worries friend
A friend of mine, "Mary," went on a rant on social media, saying really unpleasant things about people and even naming them. Obviously, she was upset, but I think this was an unwise thing to do. Who knows who all will see her posts? Plus, the people Mary was talking about don't deserve to be talked about so poorly. I'm sure she is feeling stir crazy from being at home for so long.
Thursday, April 16, 2020

Study links gut microbiome with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
It seems like gut microbes are part of every kind of health issue now. I just read that having the wrong bacteria causes pulmonary hypertension, which is something our dad had before he died. Is that really true? How can it be fixed?
Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Neighbor won't take the hint about social distancing
I live in New York City in a big apartment complex. Even though I try to stay in my home as much as I can, I do have to go outside to get groceries and sometimes just to get a little fresh air. The problem I'm having -- which is not new -- is that one of my neighbors seems to wait for me to go outside so that he can stalk me. He always seems to be around when I go outside, trying to help me or talk to me. I don't want him near me -- especially now -- but he doesn't get the hint. I have been backing off from him for years. What can I say now to get him to stay at a safe distance?
Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Even with extension, filer worried about IRS
I was in the middle of dealing with a significant tax problem when the coronavirus pandemic hit. I see that we are getting an extension to file, but I'm worried that any day now I could get a lien in the mail because I owe the IRS a lot of money and have not filed yet. I was already feeling paralyzed by this. Now it's worse since I can't really work with my accountant right now. This is my fault, but I don't know how to get out of it
Monday, April 13, 2020

Aunt refuses to postpone funeral
My uncle passed away recently -- of old age, thank God. But he lived in my hometown, which is hundreds of miles away. I am unable to travel now, like most people these days. I want my aunt to consider postponing his funeral and making a memorial instead that could happen after we are allowed to travel freely again. She does not like that idea. She wants to host an open-casket funeral, the way that her whole family has done it for generations. Her daughters told me that she just wants closure. She is old and not of the mindset to postpone her grief. Am I being selfish to want her to delay the service?
Saturday, April 11, 2020

Friend group wants to start having virtual parties
My husband and I like to host parties at our home. Nothing fancy, but we do have people over almost every weekend in the cold-weather months. In the warm-weather months, we host barbecues in our backyard. Our friends do the same, so it always seems like we are at somebody's house swapping stories and having a good time. We are devastated that we can't get together now. One of my friends suggested that we try creating virtual parties. I don't have the foggiest idea how to do that. Do you have any ideas?
Friday, April 10, 2020

Woman doesn't know what to do about pregnancy
I have been dating this guy for about a year, and I recently learned that I am pregnant. I am so scared. We are in a good relationship, but nothing close to permanent. We used protection, but clearly that didn't work. I don't believe in abortion, but I also don't have a job. I'm in school. My parents will kill me if I have to drop out. I know that adoption could be an option, but I hear horror stories about how kids can feel lost when they are given up for adoption. I haven't told my boyfriend or my parents. I don't know what to do.
Thursday, April 9, 2020








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