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home : columns April 4, 2020

Spouse wants to apologize to husband for being ungrateful
DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like all of the things that I thought were important don't matter at all in the wake of this COVID-19 crisis. I was complaining just the other day about my husband and how annoying he can be. Now I am so grateful that he is in my life and helping me and my kids to manage this time.
Friday, April 3, 2020

Former bookworm wants to reignite passion
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have lost my passion for reading. When I was younger, I used to love reading. I had a different book in my hands every day. Lately, I have not been reading anything. There are hundreds of new books at bookstores, and I just walk past them.
Thursday, April 2, 2020

Teenage son doesn't understand value of social distancing
DEAR HARRIETTE: Now that we are living in this new reality of social distancing, I am already having a serious challenge with my teenage son. He is accustomed to being able to hang out with his friends as long as he comes home by his curfew. School is out for the foreseeable future, and he does not understand why in the world he has to stay at home and cannot hang with his friends. His argument is that the government says people shouldn't get together in large crowds. If he is going to be with a couple of kids, he argues, what's the big deal?
Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Keep your social distance
DEAR HARRIETTE: I just went to the doctor and had to speak to an administrator. When our meeting was over, she reached out to give me a fist bump. I was so surprised, I wasn't sure what to do. At least she wasn't offering me her hand to shake -- but seriously? She works at a health institution, and we have been told that we need to practice "social distancing," including not touching one another. A fist bump is still two hands touching.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020

As homelessness increases, so do requests
I have noticed more and more homeless people on the streets. And I feel like they are getting more aggressive in asking for -- demanding, really -- money. I went in to get something from a convenience store, and a woman waiting outside asked me for money. When I did not give her anything but continued along my way, she began to yell at me and follow me a few steps down the street. I am not numb to the realities of homelessness in our country, but I also do not feel like it is my duty to give money to every person who demands it. How can I handle this without being rude or disrespectful?
Monday, March 30, 2020

World Almanac
Today is the 89th day of 2020 and the 11th day of spring.
Saturday, March 28, 2020

Black co-workers tired of being mistaken for each other
I am an African American woman working in a largely white corporate institution. There are only two black women in my division of about 50 employees. She and I look nothing alike. Specifically, I am tall, with dark skin and short hair; she is at least 6 inches shorter than me, with light skin and long hair. And yet, regularly, co-workers mistake us for each other. It is blatantly racist to me. They don't make that mistake with one another, even when they may be referring to two blonds of similar height and stature. I don't get it, and it's so annoying. What can I do to be seen in my company?
Saturday, March 28, 2020

Nosy friend needs to hear no
I have a friend who is well-meaning, but extremely nosy and pushy. She is like the grand inquisitor of my life. If I tell her one thing, she asks me 10 more questions. If I don't want to answer some of her questions, she gets offended and says that that's what friends do -- tell each other everything. The thing is, she doesn't tell me much about herself. She extracts all kinds of information about me but doesn't reciprocate. I'm over it. I am tired of answering all of her questions. I don't want to hurt her feelings, but I need to figure out how to get her to back off. Since I have allowed this for so long, I figure she will be shocked by my pushback. What should I do?
Friday, March 27, 2020

Friend's request is too much
I got a social media message from a guy who went to college with me. We have not communicated in more than 20 years, and there he was in my inbox. He was very pleasant, and we started chatting on WhatsApp. It has been nice striking up a casual friendship with this guy -- up until he made what I consider to be the "big ask." He lives in another country and wants to visit the United States. He asked if he could stay with me on this visit. I don't know this guy like that, and I do not feel comfortable inviting him to stay with me.
Thursday, March 26, 2020

Grateful job-seeker should send thanks, even belatedly
Recently, a guy I haven't talked to in years recommended me for a job. Out of the blue, it seemed, he called me and told me about this opportunity. A few months went by before things came together. Well, I got the job, but in the flurry of everything, I forgot to contact the guy to tell him I got it. I'm embarrassed that so much time has passed, but I feel like I should still let him know. How can I do it so I don't seem like an ingrate?
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Potentially postponed conference causes job panic
I have been planning a conference for my business for almost a year now. In the midst of this coronavirus scare, many conferences are being canceled, and I am getting worried. My company counts on this conference as its primary source of revenue each year. If we have to postpone it, I don't know if I will still have a job. So much hinges on whether or not this event occurs. What can I do to help with my own job security at a time when we really are not in control?
Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Amid coronavirus panic, Asian student feels discrimination
Many students are avoiding classes due to the outbreak of coronavirus in New York City. People are discriminating against Asian American students in my school. When I go out in public, people seem to avoid me more frequently. At school, the Asian kids are avoided. Being a mixed-race, I do not appear fully Asian; however, I have experienced some shunning and more than a few side-eye glances. One of my friends is scared to walk around by herself due to the amount of violence against Asians. This discrimination is starting to happen in my school as well. What should I do to fight against the paranoia?
Monday, March 23, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my friends told me about this guy that she has been dating for a while. She really likes his company and how much of a gentleman he is. The only downside is that he smells. I asked if he had any religious restrictions to washing, and she said he doesn't.
Saturday, March 21, 2020

Woman doesn't need to tell ex's family breakup details
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend, "Leslie," who recently gave me some pretty shocking news. She found out that her boyfriend of four years has been cheating on her with another girl. Leslie told me about how she had her suspicions, but she wasn't sure until a close friend of hers broke the news.
Friday, March 20, 2020

Friends' political apathy bothers reader
DEAR HARRIETTE: Now that things are heating up in the race for the presidency, I am noticing that fewer and fewer of my friends are paying attention. Last year, this was all we seemed to talk about. Now, it's like pulling teeth to get those same young people, who are just about to vote for the first or second time, to pay any attention at all. They say they got exhausted by the fussing and fighting and are uninspired to continue to watch things play out.
Thursday, March 19, 2020

Keeping medications straight is harder than it seems
I feel like I am turning into my grandmother. I am in my 50s, and I have many of the chronic diseases that she has had since about my age. I am not proud of that, but it's true.
Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Audience member frustrated by rude seatmates
I took my aunt to a Broadway play for her birthday. It was a big treat for her, and we were so excited. As we sat, ready to watch the performance, we noticed the people in front of us because they were very loud. They ended up talking throughout the performance, rustling food packages and otherwise being rude. It was unbelievable. It took a lot for me to save up to take my aunt to this play. The tickets are not cheap. Why in the world would somebody pay all that money and then not pay attention? It was annoying and embarrassing. During intermission, my very proper auntie spoke to one of them and asked them to be quiet when the show started back up. That actually did help to settle them a bit, but I wonder if there's anything else that can be done in a situation like that.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Making sacrifices is great idea, regardless of religion
I have listened to friends tell me how they have given up different things for religious reasons -- especially for Lent -- for 40 days. Though I am not Christian, I like the notion of devoting a specific period of time to a discipline that takes something away. I think it could be helpful for me. I struggle with all kinds of things, from weight gain to clutter. I bet if I committed to giving up sweets or throwing things away every day for 40 days, I would see some positive results. Do you think it's OK to adopt this practice even though I'm not following my friends' religious tradition?
Monday, March 16, 2020

Offset thoughts of mortality with positive reflection
I know that people die all the time in life, but I feel like too many people I am connected to personally are dying right now. From little kids to former colleagues to a neighbor to a friend's elderly father, it feels like everybody is dying. I'm scared to answer the phone these days because I'm afraid that it will be one more of those awful calls. It's overwhelming. I am so worried that someone else I love is next. How can I manage these anxious feelings that I have? I know I can't control who lives or dies, but I need to get a handle on how I am dealing with it all.
Saturday, March 14, 2020

Sisters with big age gap struggle to connect
There's a pretty large age gap between my sister and me. When my mom had me, my sister was 16 years old. I have been told that when I was a baby, my sister would take care of me like I was her own. But when I turned 4, my sister joined the Air Force. A couple of years later, she got married and had children of her own. I am so happy for her. She has it all: an amazing husband, beautiful kids and a great-paying job. I understand she has a life of her own. However, lately, speaking to her is like speaking to a stranger.
Friday, March 13, 2020

Friend wants to distance self from woman stuck in past
My friend and I used to be very close until she moved back home to take care of her ailing mother (who has since died). Honestly, she seems stuck. She is of retirement age, though she still needs to work, so she does odd jobs here and there.
Thursday, March 12, 2020

Conservative uncle and liberal aunts aren't talking
There has been a lot of growing tension amongst my family members. My family is normally easygoing and eccentric; however, lately things have been a bit toned down. One such incident that sparked this awkward tension is when my uncle openly stated his conservative political views. He made some pretty extreme comments to my aunts, who are all liberal. They had a huge fight, which led to screaming at the top of their lungs. Thankfully, the argument subsided after a while, but afterward, they have been talking less frequently. What can they do so that they can carry on the bond they once had and settle their differences?
Wednesday, March 11, 2020

College-age daughter stifled by overbearing mom
Even though I am a college student, I still live with my mother; it's much cheaper than living in a dorm. I may be an adult, but every time I go out, I have to tell my mom where I am going. If I am out planning on being out late, I have to tell her how long I will be. Whenever it is dark out, my mom picks me up by my bus stop.
Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Elementary school bully reaches out to woman
When my friend was in elementary school, there was this boy in my class who would constantly harass her. His bullying was so severe she was almost always crying and would ditch weeks of school just to avoid him.
Monday, March 9, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: My father passed away when I was 14 years old. Many think that it was traumatic, and it was, but I never had a great relationship with my father, so I hid my grief. My dad was negligent and abusive to me. There was never a day when he and I didn't fight.
Saturday, March 7, 2020

Reader upset by friend's shoplifting
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend I have known for ages. I considered her to be family. There was an incident, however, that changed it all. One day, my friend and I went to a convenience store to pick up a few things. I asked her if she wanted anything -- even told her that I would pay -- but she declined. So I purchased my items and left the store.
Friday, March 6, 2020

Freelancer concerned about missing check
I worked with one company for several years on a freelance basis. I recently completed my last job with them, as I took another job. I thought we parted on good terms, but I question it now because I have not received my last check.
Thursday, March 5, 2020

Client's frantic behavior stresses out reader
I have a client who took months to pay me for a job I did. Eventually, she sent me the payment in two checks. After I received them, she called me frantically, telling me to deposit the first half immediately to ensure that it got paid; she asked me to hold off on depositing the second check. Later that day, she sent me an urgent text saying that I needed to deposit the money that very day.
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Reader considers wasting away like great-aunt
I had a great-aunt who took her own life when she reached retirement age. She was a domestic worker for her whole life, and when she couldn't work anymore, she lived with my grandmother and felt like a burden.

One day, she sat on a sofa and told the family that she wasn't going to eat anymore; she never ate another morsel of food. She died some months later. Her rationale was that she didn't want to be a burden on the family.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Reader wants to be there for depressed friend
I have a friend who has told me he is depressed. He has a therapist and seems to be working through his issues, but I worry about him. With so many stories of suicide these days, I don't want to be the friend who didn't notice the warning signs. He does still talk to me, and he says that he is seeking help. He broke up with his girlfriend about a year ago, and he hasn't been right since. I want to be the best friend that I can to him during this time. What do you recommend?
Monday, March 2, 2020

Reader explodes in anger over small slight
About a week ago, I invited a friend of mine to hang out with me. We planned the day out and everything. Then, completely last-minute, my friend canceled on me. At that point, I don't know what became of me; I exploded. I was so angry for no apparent reason and said some nasty stuff to my friend. I realized my mistake and apologized immediately. Luckily, we are still good friends, but I don't know why I would get so angry over nothing. I am scared that I might not be able to control my anger in the future. What can I do so that I won't explode again?
Saturday, February 29, 2020

Reader feels behind in career trajectory
I constantly feel like I am behind the eight ball. I had a robust career that ended some years ago when my industry began to tank. I have worked independently since then on a variety of projects. From the outside, I look successful, but my bank account tells a different story. Plus, I keep seeing people in my field who seem to be prosperous trying out new technology or aligning with big brands while I seem to be scrambling for crumbs. I am beginning to feel like there's no more room for me and my talents and creativity. But I'm still in my 50s and have a family. I have to keep working, but I'm not sure what to do to reinvent myself. I don't want to give up, but I need some guidance.
Friday, February 28, 2020

Friend's food pickiness is rude
I have a friend who is super picky. My mother is Thai, and she makes many Thai delicacies whenever I have friends over. My other friends eat -- and enjoy -- my mother's food. However, this one friend refuses to eat it or says it's disgusting.
Thursday, February 27, 2020

Reader stuck in the middle of friends
I have two amazing friends. They both are cool, funny and understanding. However, one of them does not like the other. My friend, friend No. 1, does not like friend No. 2. So whenever I talk to or hang out with friend No. 2, I am unable to tell friend No. 1 because I know it will upset her. I love friend No. 1 to pieces; she is basically a sister to me. I tell her everything, but when it comes to friend No. 2, I can't let her know when we hang out. Friend No. 1 once told me if I ever spoke to friend No. 2 again, she would never talk to me.
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Tired reader should find root of sleeplessness
I love to sleep. The feeling of comfort after a long day, in my bed, really helps ease my tension. Lately, I have been having difficulty going to sleep and staying asleep. I have tried many natural remedies to try to calm down, but none has worked. My sleep complications don't happen frequently, but there are days when they do occur. I have been trying to find the root cause of my situation, and I am not sure if I should see a specialist or handle it on my own. Any ideas?
Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Husband spills the beans about reader's health
I was recently hospitalized due to a health scare. I am now working with my doctor to figure out what's going on. I'm on top of it, but I really want to keep my health status private.
Monday, February 24, 2020

Reader explodes in anger over small slight
DEAR HARRIETTE: About a week ago, I invited a friend of mine to hang out with me. We planned the day out and everything. Then, completely last-minute, my friend canceled on me.
Saturday, February 22, 2020

Reader wants to be sensitive to gender identity
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am finding myself at a loss for how to be politically correct when it comes to talking about gender identity. My neighbor's child -- who was born female -- says that she now identifies as "they." I do my best to remember, but it doesn't come natural to me yet.
Friday, February 21, 2020

Reader struggles to trust working with women
I got into a huge argument with a woman who said she wanted to help me work on my business plan. She agreed to a particular fee; it was low, but promised higher returns when I met with success. After beginning to do the work, she flaked time and again, insulted me along the way and never completed what she agreed to do. On top of all of that, she had the nerve to say that I didn't know what I was doing and that I would never amount to anything. It was awful.
Thursday, February 20, 2020

Asthmatic reader questions going on hiking trip
I have a weakened immune system due to asthma. I have never bowed out of activities because of my health, but now I wonder if I should.
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Friend who wants to be an author not a good writer
A friend of mine has always said she wants to be an author. She's never published anything. Recently, she presented me with a manuscript that she says she has been working on for years. It reads a bit like a memoir, but I do not think it is very good. The thoughts are not coherent. What do I say to her? I have written a little bit here and there, but I am no editor. I don't really know how to help her. I don't want to hurt her feelings. What do I say to someone who is so passionate, but who really doesn't have the chops to do it?
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Client chastises reader for seemingly no reason
I have a client who constantly reprimands me about everything. Just the other day, I sent her a report about a project that we had just finished. All of the information was clearly articulated in an organized and succinct manner -- as I do after every project. Her response was to thank me for it and to point out that I should be providing written reports on a regular basis to her so that she can share them with others. Duh. That's exactly what I had just done. Why did she feel the need to state the obvious?
Monday, February 17, 2020

Readers husband reneges on date nights
Every time I get tickets for a special event and invite my husband to go with me, he reneges on the day of. Like clockwork, he finds some excuse for not being able to join me. I get these great, free tickets through my work. They are often for special cultural experiences, and the ticket price is high. I find myself scrambling to get someone to go with me. I know I should probably give up, but I want him to go out with me on fun dates. We have been married for a long time, and he seems satisfied with going out to dinner once a year for our anniversary. How can I get him to want to go?
Saturday, February 15, 2020

Harriette wishes readers a happy Valentine's Day
For those of you who celebrate, happy Valentine's Day! This day has been reserved as a day to express your love and affection for those you hold dear. I like the overarching sentiment, even though I cringe at how product-driven the day has become.
Friday, February 14, 2020

Friend has low self-esteem after weight-loss surgery
My best friend is the most beautiful girl that I know. She is funny, smart and an amazing singer. I've known her since we were in the sixth grade, so she is basically my sister. Lately, she has been down, and it is mostly due to her weight.
Thursday, February 13, 2020

Scholarly reader wants to find love
I have never been in a relationship. I am almost 20, and I have never experienced romance. Many of my friends have already had boyfriends or girlfriends, gotten involved in summer flings or even found their life partners. I, on the other hand, have dated various books, ranging from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Mark Twain. I care more about my education than anything else, so I've never had time to be in a proper relationship.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Neighbor reluctant to babysit for adulterous woman
My neighbor, who is a good friend, confided in me that she is having an affair with a guy at her job. It came up because she asked me if I would watch her kids last-minute one evening. When I asked her what was going on -- because she is usually well-organized and responsible -- she admitted that she was going to meet up with this guy. This was so awkward for me. I took the children, but I don't want to be in the middle of this. I am friendly with my neighbor's husband, and I don't want to be complicit in the machinations of an affair. It's not easy. My friend has already asked me to watch her children again. That wouldn't be abnormal, but now that I know why she is asking, I want no part of it. What should I do?
Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Bright student having doubts about potential
I have just started another semester at college. So far, it has been decent. The courses I am taking are a bit more challenging, but at least I have really good professors.

For the fall semester, I received straight A's, and it boosted my GPA. I have been stressed out lately because I am having second thoughts about my potential. I know that since I did well last semester, I need to do exceptionally well this semester. I know that the new semester just started, but I want to know what I can do to not second-guess myself.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Friend worried about what to do in retirement
DEAR HARRIETTE: I got a letter from an old friend that was very disturbing to me. She is at retirement age and has to keep working, like most people I know, because she doesn't have ample retirement money. She is worried about how she will take care of herself when she gets older, because she is unmarried and doubts that she can work forever.
Saturday, February 8, 2020

New parent questions how to find child care
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a young child, and I have been looking for a nanny to help me take care of her when I go back to work. I know a few moms who have nannies, but I'm really at a loss for how to find someone I can trust to watch my child. You hear horror stories about how other people take care of your children. Those stories are getting under my skin, and I am not sure how I should proceed. Do you have any recommendations? -- Need a Nanny
Friday, February 7, 2020

It's ok to use social media sparingly
I swore off social media about a year ago because I found it to be a distraction, and I really needed to get some work done. I gave myself a year, and now that I am there, I don't know if I want to go back. I like being disengaged from the chatter, much of which doesn't seem real. At the same time, I have a new project I'm working on, and social media can be very helpful in getting the word out. Any recommendations for how to balance if I go back in?
Thursday, February 6, 2020

Friend asks unemployed reader not to apply for job
I have been looking for work for about a year. Throughout this period, I have been talking to a few close friends about my search, as they are also looking for work. Recently, one friend told me about a job she is interviewing for that seems perfect for me. She even said as much when she mentioned it, though she agreed to the interview and asked me not to apply. I don't think that's fair.
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Friends want kids to couple up with same race
I hung out with some friends and got an earful. My friends said that even though their children go to a predominantly white school, they have told their children that they had better not bring any white girls home as a date or to marry. They were adamant about this, completely unapologetic in their belief that their black children had better marry black. They went on to talk about the history of racism and segregation in our country as reasons for why they want their children to stick with their own.
Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Reader wants help getting adult son to leave the nest
I have two adult children -- one who is already independent, and another who is struggling. I'm really worried about him. He seems to have a lack of confidence, even though my husband and I have provided him with everything so that he could succeed. He got a great education and did fairly well in school. But his motivation is limited. He has a job, but not in his area of interest, and he seems to be floundering. He doesn't make enough money to be on his own fully, so my husband and I supplement his income. He still lives at home. I'm not sure if this is helping. Do you think that he would get his act together if he were more motivated? What can we do to help him grow up and accept responsibility for his life?
Sunday, February 2, 2020

Growing sons want to change bedtime
I have a question about bedtimes. My kids have always had a bedtime that is relatively early because I want to make sure that they get enough rest and are sharp the next day. Now that they are a little older -- eighth grade twins -- they are fighting me about staying up late. They want to go from a 9:30 p.m. bedtime to no curfew, especially on weekends. I am willing to budge a bit, but taking away the curfew entirely doesn't seem to be a smart solution. What do you think?
Friday, January 31, 2020

Parent upset that son's school dwells on racism
Seemingly out of the blue, they are reading lots of books about race at my son's school. Seriously, they have read three books back-to-back about racial injustice. While I think it is important for the kids to learn about these topics, it is making us uncomfortable. Not everything is about race, but you would never know from this class. I don't have the knowledge or time to debate these issues with my son every day.
Thursday, January 30, 2020

Friend with terminal cancer still living it up
One of my best friends has terminal cancer. He has tried everything to heal himself, which is actually a lot because he has money. He has traveled all over the world trying to find a doctor or therapy that will help him, but nothing is working. Now, it seems like he is slowing down. He is unwilling to accept that he may be dying soon, though. He still wants to hang out late, which I do not advise. But then I wonder if I should just support whatever he wants. He usually includes me at his fun events, but I see that he is failing. How can I best support him?
Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Immigrant's family expects too much
I am an immigrant, and I have lived in this country for more than 20 years; in fact, I am now an American citizen. My problem is that as much as I want to visit my family in my home country, it is so expensive that I can go only every few years. I save as much and spend as little as possible here, but my expenses are considerable. Also, because I live in the United States, my family assumes that I am rich. I am expected to pay for the family homestead, even though I don't work there, and when I come home, I am expected to bring lots of gifts and money to give to everyone.
Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Teen daughter too stressed by exams
My daughter had a horrible time this year going through midterms. She bit all of her fingernails down to nubs. She didn't sleep well for a whole week. She was irritable every single day. And nothing I did helped her. In fact, my very presence seemed to annoy her. I know it's because the pressure is intense at her school, and she feels that she has to do well or she won't get in to college.
Monday, January 27, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was married many years ago to a nice man, and I did not treat him well. I have never felt good about my behavior. Even though a lot of years have passed, I still think about that period in my life from time to time, and I cringe. As we get older, I keep thinking that I want to apologize to him. I don't want to upset his life, though. He has remarried and has a family. I have not seen him for decades. If I can find his address, do you think it would be appropriate to send him a note of apology? Life is short, and many people I grew up with are dying. I don't want either of us to die before I express my apology. -- Making Amends
Saturday, January 25, 2020

Reader suspects parents may be alcoholics
DEAR HARRIETTE: I believe that my parents are alcoholics. They drink just about every night, and often they drink excessively. I can always tell when they have had too much because they get loud and obnoxious. I have spoken to my mom about this many times when she is sober. She blows me off.
Friday, January 24, 2020

Reader sees neighbor's underage kid at club
I went to a nightclub with some of my friends from work, and while I was there, I saw one of my neighbor's children. This guy has got to be underage. He is tall, so maybe that's how he got in, but he's definitely under 21. He was hanging out and drinking with a group of young people. He never seemed to get out of control, but he shouldn't have been there, and he shouldn't have been drinking. I spoke to him, so he knows that I saw him.
Thursday, January 23, 2020

Seeing old friend brings on wake-up call
I saw a woman over the holidays who I had not seen for about 15 years. It was so nice to see her and to reconnect. One thing that bothered me, though, was that I could see that when she looked at me, she noticed that I have gained a lot of weight. She didn't say anything, but I saw her see me. I feel bad enough that I no longer have the figure I had when I was younger.
Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Kids annoyed at parent requiring lotion
My children get mad at me because I'm old-school: I don't care how old they are -- I don't want them leaving home without putting on lotion. I can't stand looking at ashy skin. It looks bad, but what's worse is that your skin can crack if you don't keep it moisturized.
Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Self-employed reader gets called for jury duty
I got called for jury duty. I had been able to dodge it for the past 10 years or so, but this time they said I have to come. I'm self-employed, and I can't afford to take off this time. How can I make clear my circumstances?
Monday, January 20, 2020

Procrastinating reader needs to prioritize time
I am a serious procrastinator. I have been like this for as long as I can remember, but it is starting to catch up with me in bad ways. I was recently late on a project at work because I took too long to get started.
Friday, January 17, 2020

Husband's TV choices bother reader
My husband and I have very different tastes in television programs. I like romance and drama. He watches shows about UFOs. It makes my skin crawl when he turns on shows about extraterrestrials and then lectures me about his beliefs -- backed up by these programs -- that aliens are living among us. I don't believe it, but I also know that I can't do anything about it, even if it is true.
Thursday, January 16, 2020

Reader wants to pay off credit card debt
I spent too much money on Christmas gifts, even though I promised myself that I would stick to a budget. Now I'm saddled with several thousand dollars' worth of credit card bills exactly at the time when I wanted to be starting fresh financially. How can I change my habits given that I already messed up and the year is just starting?
Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Reader wants to invite absentee dad to wedding
My parents broke up when I was a little kid. At first my dad would come around once or twice a month to see us, but after a few years, he hardly ever showed up.

I am now an adult. I live and work on my own, and my life is pretty good. I am about to get married, and I want to reconcile with my dad. I want him to be at my wedding and to be a part of my new life. I have contacted him, and he says he will come.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Teenage sons obsessed with video games
I have two sons who love to play video games more than just about anything. They are middle schoolers, but they rarely want to go out and socialize. They do connect online with other kids who plays these games. I suppose I should be happy that they aren't out roaming the streets, but it is weird to me that they are so absorbed in their games. It doesn't seem healthy. How can I get them to come up for air?
Monday, January 13, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to visit my sister, who is single and retired. We talk on the phone a lot, but we haven't spent time together for a couple of years. I was surprised to see how sedentary her life has become. Basically she sits around and watches TV all day. She looks at romantic movies back-to-back from the time she wakes up until late at night. The only time she looks at anything else is when she is watching political news.
Saturday, January 11, 2020

Puppy owner considering letting mom adopt him
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a puppy. I'm happy about it, but at the same time, I feel bad. I am in school, and I work almost every day. My puppy ends up staying in a kennel for 10 to 12 hours a day while I'm away. When I get home, he is so happy to see me. I spend some time with him, but I'm so tired I don't really have the energy to play. Plus, I often go out at night. I'm 20 years old, and I have an active social life. I feel like I got my puppy before I was ready to accept responsibility for it.
Friday, January 10, 2020

Check, please! Splitting the bill can be awkward
My family went out to dinner with friends of ours who were in town visiting. There were five of them and three of us, and the restaurant was kind of expensive. When it came time to pay the bill, it was a little awkward. Normally we would just split the bill, but the number of people in each party was so different. When I thought about it, though, I was OK with splitting it because we had drinks and the others drank water. (Alcoholic beverages always hike up the bill.)
Thursday, January 9, 2020

Client debates leaving older accountant
I have worked with the same accountant for more than 20 years. He is a good man who has always helped me with the finances. In recent years, I have noticed that he is slowing down a lot. He is an older guy. I wonder if I should be looking for someone to fill his shoes. I worry that without this support, I will be in trouble. I don't want to upset him, though. Should I talk to him about it? I'm not quite sure what to do.
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Family road trip music choices cause stress
My family takes a lot of driving trips to visit family and friends, even when we are going on vacation. It is the most affordable way for a family of five to get around. Where we run into trouble is that each of us likes different music. Our musical tastes could not be more different. So what happens is that there is an ongoing battle as to whose music gets played. When we are driving for five or more hours, this can be stressful. Do you have a recommendation on how to handle this?
Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Social media "friend" is overly friendly
Somehow I am connected to a young man on social media, and he is constantly sending me messages and tagging me on his various posts. At first, it didn't bother me, but now I find it annoying. Also, because he tags me and a host of other people on these posts, I now get communications from some of them -- more people I don't know. How can I get him to stop? I don't want to unfriend him, but I'm thinking that's what I need to do. I may also need to block him. Is that rude of me? I need to do something.
Monday, January 6, 2020

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