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home : columns September 18, 2018

Nagging husband loses key fob
My husband and I just got a new car. Our previous car had no fancy computer abilities, so we are still getting used to this one. Our car starts without a key, though the key fob -- something I had never even heard of before -- has to be in the car. My husband has been adamant about both of us carrying our key fobs, even if only one of us is going to drive, because he says the fob identifies the driver. He has been pushy about us each having our fobs with us, and he reprimands me if I don't have mine.

Fast forward to this weekend: We went away for a few days, and he seems to have lost his key fob. He's upset about it, but I'm just glad it wasn't me. He would have been yelling at me and telling me how irresponsible I am. Instead he's just upset and looking for his key. I'm sorry he lost it, and I don't want to rub it in, but part of me wants to point out that he would be handling this differently if the roles were reversed. Do I let it go or say something?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


After reflection, career striver has regrets
I had some time to myself this summer and was able to be quiet and assess my life. It was a great experience, but during my contemplation, I remembered some things that I did in my past that are disturbing. I'm talking about choices that I made that were rude or mean or short-sighted. In retrospect, I can't believe how selfish I was while trying to build my career. There have been a few occasions when the way I reacted to people I care about just didn't matter in the moment. I am ashamed about some of these moments, and I wonder what I should do. I know that most people have done bad things, but should I do something about it? Should I reach out to the people I think I was rude to and apologize for my behavior?
Monday, September 17, 2018

Employee desires more quiet in the office
DEAR HARRIETTE: I work in an office with a lot of young people who are pretty rambunctious and loud. I hate sounding like an old lady, but it is hard for me to get my work done because they are either gossiping with each other, looking at videos online or otherwise talking. I don't understand how they do it.
Saturday, September 15, 2018

Neighbor feels bad for ignoring Puerto Ricans' suffering
DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in New York City, where there are a lot of people from Puerto Rico. One of my neighbors has been complaining for months about how slowly the government has responded to the devastation of Hurricane Maria. I have to admit that I got tired of listening to her complaints after a while. So many other problems in life have come up, plus we were getting general notifications that aid was coming to the island.
Now it seems that the support has not been available as needed. And way more people died than was first thought. I feel horrible for my neighbor and her relatives who are stuck in Puerto Rico and who have few resources. I feel like I should apologize to her for not understanding. I also want to help even though I'm strapped for cash. Is there anything else I can do? -- Help for Puerto Rico, Bronx, New York

Friday, September 14, 2018

Boyfriend turns down friend's vacation suggestion
My good friend is talking about organizing a vacation in the spring, and she asked my boyfriend and me if we would like to participate. The way she does this is to find a few couples or individuals who want to go in on a house and then rent it together. This makes it more affordable and easier to get a nicer house. I like the idea, but my boyfriend isn't so into it. He doesn't think he will like sharing a house with six or eight people. He says it feels like college, and we are grown now. I see his point, but I think it could be fun. Plus, we have been talking about taking a vacation but hesitant because of the cost. I want to convince him to try this out at least once to see if we like it. How can I get him to reconsider?
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Publicist must stand up to demanding family
I work as a freelance publicist. I have been doing this for about five years, and it's going OK. The problem is that my friends and family are constantly asking me to do things for them for free. They feel like since they know me or are related to me, naturally I will do them a solid and help them out. I understand that in theory, but this is my livelihood. It's one thing to do a project once as a gift, but they come back again and again. Whenever I suggest they pay me, they get ornery and act like I am being greedy. How can I get people to pay for my services?
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Harriette reflects on 9/11, John McCain
It's hard to believe that 17 years have passed since the fateful day when our understanding of peace changed in America and beyond. Those three planes filled with hate that decimated so many lives and destroyed even more hearts hit their targets on this day in 2001. Many people still live in a pre-9/11-vs.-post-9/11 world. Most still vividly remember where they were and what they were doing when thousands of lives were annihilated. Our world changed that day.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Son sees himself reflected in new school
I don't mean to sound discriminatory in any way, but I think it's natural for parents to want their children to be exposed to people from their own community when they begin to date. It was illegal for many blacks to date whites just two generations ago, so I don't think I'm out of line to think this.
Monday, September 10, 2018

Boyfriend insists woman not talk to grieving ex
DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex-boyfriend from college just lost his ex-wife. They were divorced for years, but they have a child together, so they stayed in touch. She had breast cancer and didn't survive. Their children are in middle school and obviously upset. I feel so sorry for him and want to be there to support him. We have stayed friendly over the years.
Saturday, September 8, 2018

Boss is too demanding during business trip
DEAR HARRIETTE: This will be my second time going on a business trip for my company. There are five of us who will be traveling and staying together in one house, and I am not looking forward to it. Last year when we did this, my boss was way too demanding. She wanted all of us to eat together every day. Sometimes that was OK, but other times I just wanted time to myself. She thought nothing of calling meetings late at night, since we were together. There seemed to be no boundaries.
Friday, September 7, 2018

Teenage daughter slept away the summer
At first, I let her sleep. I know she had a rigorous school year. But I am worried that she is going to be sluggish at school, given that it took everything I had to get her up to finish her summer assignments and be an active member in our household. What can I do to ensure that she will be an alert and attentive student?
Thursday, September 6, 2018

Pre-diabetic can help self by making changes
I want to take back my health and not succumb to a ton of meds every night. I have talked to my doctor about how I might get healthier with diet and exercise. Do you think it's wrong of me to try these measures before I report to my family that I am like all of them -- getting sick?
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Chef asks for feedback about bad meal
I went to a dinner party where the food wasn't good. I was sitting in the kitchen toward the end of the evening, chilling, when the chef started talking to me. She was nice and had worked hard to make the event fun. She asked me what I thought of the meal, and I wasn't sure what to say. The party's host is my friend, so I wanted to be sensitive to the situation, but honestly, the food was not good. It was bland and boring. I didn't really answer her, and I'm not sure if that was helpful. Feedback can be helpful if people want to improve. I didn't want to make waves. What do you think I should have done?
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Politics getting in the way of family time
I am so tired of politics. My husband seems to live and breathe it. From the moment he wakes up until he goes to sleep, he has the TV tuned to cable news programs, and he devours whatever they have to say. It's like life has become its own reality show, and I just want it to stop. At the same time, I want to spend time with my husband. How can I get him to take time off from the news to spend more time with the family
Monday, September 3, 2018

Roommate's girlfriend is too invasive
When he goes to sleep, she will come out and watch TV with me in the living room. I didn't think much of it at first, but it's starting to weird me out. She asks me personal and invasive questions that I don't answer. A few times, I felt like she was coming on to me. My buddy is starting to get serious with this girl, and I want to warn him about my encounters with her. Do you think it's selfish of me to bring up some of the things I found alarming?
Friday, August 31, 2018

Woman wants breast reduction against parents' wishes
I don't care what I look like; I am in physical pain. I have tried explaining it to my parents, but they don't understand, especially my flat-chested mom. Do you think I should schedule an appointment to hear a doctor's point of view?
Thursday, August 30, 2018

High school freshman worried about appearance
I feel like I'm the only rising freshman with bad skin and braces. Am I ever going to get over my insecurities?
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Roommate wants distance when lease is up
I don't want the negative energy in my life anymore; it's been so upsetting. How do I remove her from my life when she's been in it for so long?
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Freelancer needs to get out of summer slump
I think of myself as a smart person, but you would never know by how I am right about now. I don't have enough money to pay my bills or to eat. What can you recommend I do so that I don't get in this situation again? Making excuses for why I can't pay my bills is getting old.
Monday, August 27, 2018

Seeing friends' marriage woes spurs reader to action
DEAR HARRIETTE: Two of my close friends are going through a hard time in their marriage. The wife confided in me when asking for a suggestion for a therapist. While she was sharing what was going on, I realized that her marriage is way better off than my own. What's more, she is addressing their issues head-on. I stopped fighting for things that I think are important years ago because it always turned into an argument.
Friday, August 24, 2018

Mother in different country wants kid to visit often
I enjoy going to see her and visiting the family I have there, but my mother has been nagging me a lot more than usual recently. Every time I take a vacation with my boyfriend or go away with my girlfriends, she questions why I did not visit her. I try to explain to her that a flight to Brazil costs a lot more than a flight to Florida and that I can't spend all my vacation days on her. Do you have any advice on how I can handle this situation without hurting my mother's feelings?
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Employee questions company values
If I don't have the same values, am I being a hypocrite to continue to work with people who have opposing views?
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Reader thinks friend's body still not bikini-ready
She looks better than she did, but she still has major cellulite and a huge, loose belly. I don't think she should show off the "new" body that is still in progress. I think dressing more modestly can showcase her new positives without revealing too much. How can I get her to hear me?
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Manipulative friend contacts reader only for favors
I have a friend who contacts me only when he needs something. He is charismatic and charming, so I usually find myself agreeing to do whatever he suggests, but it makes me mad. When I need him to do something for me, I often cannot get him on the phone. He disappears for days, weeks, sometimes months on end, only to resurface with an urgent request. If I don't respond right away, he gets indignant. How can I manage these dynamics better? I'm beginning to feel used. --
Monday, August 20, 2018

Loud friend only wants to gossip
I like to talk about ideas and experiences. When I try to get her to talk about other things, she tries for a while, but the conversation almost always veers back to gossip. How can I maintain my friendship with her and keep my sanity as well?
Saturday, August 18, 2018

Man embarrassed that family can't swim
The kids can put on life vests and stay in the shallow end, but I would look like a fool with those floaties on. Should we go? Is it too late for me and my family to learn how to swim?
Friday, August 17, 2018

Invitation to summer house raises questions
The girl's parents seem nice and grounded. She seems to be genuinely interested in becoming closer to my daughter. Should I let my daughter spend the weekend with them?
Thursday, August 16, 2018

Parents want child to attend medical school
Medical school is the last thing that I want to do, and my parents don't understand. I keep telling them that I don't want to go to medical school, but they aren't listening. They say I should look at my brothers and be more like them, but I don't want to be. I want to do my own thing. Why don't they understand?
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Former homebody blossoms in new city
What should I do? Stay here in San Francisco or go home to where I am comfortable?
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Employee wants to forget what she saw
DEAR HARRIETTE: I work at a law firm in New York City. Recently, I was working late on a case, so I went out to get dinner. When I got back to the office, I heard a strange sound coming from my boss's office. I was worried -- I'm a 25-year-old single woman -- so I peered into the office.
Monday, August 13, 2018

Boyfriend's ex makes passes at family functions
DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend is friends with his ex-girlfriend -- not because they want to be friends, but because their families are friends. They grew up together, and their families are extremely close. He dated this girl for two years before they broke up. I met my boyfriend in college, and we have been dating for just over two years.
Saturday, August 11, 2018

New author may have named too many names
DEAR HARRIETTE: I had a hard life growing up, but I have done well for myself. Many people suggested that I write a book about my experiences, and I decided to go for it -- and now I am finished. I decided to self-publish because it was too hard to find a publisher.
Thursday, August 9, 2018

Alzheimer's caregiver needs support, not judgment
I'm not sure how I feel about this. It's really none of my business, but there he was with this woman. I can't imagine what it's like to go through this. I don't want to judge him. How should I react?
Thursday, August 9, 2018

Reader angry when friend dumps his ex
I'm mad at him for not sticking it out with her. She has been through so much. I feel bad for her. Should I say anything to him?
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Reader questions own sobriety after celebrity relapse
I think I have gotten far enough away from the lure of that life, but I wonder: If it could happen to someone like Demi, could it happen to me?
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Sister's behavior worries high school senior
I don't want to rat her out, but I do think that she needs to calm down because I'm starting to worry about her. Do you think that I should have a talk with my sister before I get my parents involved?
Monday, August 6, 2018

Mom wants new way to share manicures with daughter
How can I keep up this tradition in a healthier manner?
Saturday, August 4, 2018

Student catches teacher buying drugs
Do you think I should try talking to his superior, my parents or his colleagues, or do I do my best to forget about it?
Friday, August 3, 2018

Teenage girl wants female confidante
My whole life has always been dominated by men, which was never an issue before now. I want to talk about girl things with an adult, but I don't know who to turn to.
Thursday, August 2, 2018

High school senior doesn't want to attend college
I don't want to go to college. I know that everyone would advise me to go, but I don't want to. When I talk about this with my parents, they don't listen because they think it's ridiculous. I don't know what would genuinely make me want to go. Is it that terrible that I don't want to get a college degree?
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Husband questions staying together for the kids
I want to do what is best for my family, which I think would be staying together with my wife, but I am unsure of how much longer my heart can bear this relationship. Any words of advice?
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Recent graduate having trouble landing a job
I've had internship experiences and did well in school, but can't seem to find anything. It's embarrassing when people ask me what I've been up to and I have to say I'm looking for work. Am I ever going to get a job?
Monday, July 30, 2018

Parents' fighting upsets family
DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents have been arguing a lot for the past couple of months. Although they argue, I don't think they would ever consider separating or getting a divorce. I know that it's not my place to say anything, but I am the oldest of four sisters, and I think that my parents need to change.
Saturday, July 28, 2018

Sharing about struggles helps friend feel less alone
DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my girlfriends confided in me that she is having marital struggles. I felt bad for her. Clearly, she is going through a tough time. I did my best to listen well and to talk less, but in the end, I told her that I have been having my own struggles, and if we are being honest, a few of our mutual friends have had some ups and downs of late. I didn't say this to diminish her personal issues, but it is true that for those of us who have been married for a few years (some for more than 10), stuff comes up.
Friday, July 27, 2018

Baby sitter feels uneasy around employers
I didn't get a good feeling about the parents, but the kids seem easy and adorable. Do you think I should take the job even if I don't feel comfortable around the parents?
Thursday, July 26, 2018

Don't make assumptions about wedding plus-ones
What is the proper etiquette about wedding invites? If he is one of my best friends, shouldn't I get a plus-one?
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Reader should seek help for midlife crisis
Sometimes I don't feel like getting out of bed because it costs more for me to get up and eat, drive -- everything. I know I'm in a bad place. Can you help me?
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Memories of husband affect dating 15 years later
My husband was a wonderful man. He was kind and attentive. I'm not saying he was perfect, but he was perfect for me. Every time I date, I hold men up to my husband as the standard. They never win the contest. How can I learn to look at them for who they are?
Monday, July 23, 2018

Divorced parents plan events poorly
I try to split up and spend time at both, but it's never good enough. I try telling them, but they don't listen to me. What do you think I should do?
Saturday, July 21, 2018

Co-worker's lunch smells horrible
I now take my lunch break outside of the office just to escape the smell. What do I do in this situation? I know it might just be me being sensitive, but I also don't want to keep having to leave the office each time my team member eats her lunch!
Friday, July 20, 2018

Binge watching causes disconnect from family
I will search around and find a show, and then discover myself asleep at the TV many hours later. I haven't been getting my housework done. Honestly, I haven't talked to my family recently. We all just do our separate things and don't communicate much. I know this probably sounds stupid, but I can't seem to stop. I come home, cook dinner, sit down and watch. What can I do to change this bad habit?
Thursday, July 19, 2018

African-American teen bullied at boarding school
I have one friend, and she helps me get through the days, but most of the time I get pushed, called names, and once I even got things thrown at me. I don't want to worry my parents, but I'm so unhappy here. What should I do?
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Teen daughter sleeps her summer away
Should I be worried that all she wants to do is sleep? She's 14 years old.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Mom wonders when to introduce boyfriend to adult kids
This is the first boyfriend I have had since my ex-husband, and the first man my kids will be introduced to. I need some advice regarding how I should introduce my boyfriend to my children. Where is a good setting? Do I have them meet him all together? We have been dating for three months; is now an appropriate time to have them meet?
Monday, July 16, 2018

Commuter questions where woman sits
DEAR HARRIETTE: I take the same train every morning to work. I've figured out where to stand on the platform so that the doors stop directly in front of me. I guess a lot of other people have figured out the same thing.
Saturday, July 14, 2018

Mother's lung cancer devastates daughter
DEAR HARRIETTE: My mom was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. I am trying to stay strong for her, but each day it gets harder and harder. My mom and I have always been extremely close, and when she was diagnosed, I absolutely lost it. I can't imagine losing her; I don't think I will be able to cope. It scares me to the point where I get sick over the thought of it. My siblings are also devastated by the news, but they don't seem as upset as me. My mom keeps telling me to go out and do something fun for myself, but I just want to be with her all the time. How am I supposed to do something fun for myself when I know there is a chance I could be losing my mom in a couple of months? -- Depressed Daughter, Minneapolis
Friday, July 13, 2018

Baby sitter feels uncomfortable when dad is suggestive
I told my mom, and she told me to never baby-sit for this family again. I feel bad because the mom texts me often to baby-sit for the girls. Should I tell her that I am no longer interested in watching them?
Thursday, July 12, 2018

Family has much to consider after job offer
What do you think is the best situation for my family? Stay where we are? Or leave?
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Younger brother in the midst of midlife crisis
Do you have any idea of how I can help him? Do I intervene to prevent him from messing up his life?
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Long-distance boyfriend's new friends cause jealousy
My boyfriend has done nothing to make me not trust him, so why does his hanging out with these women make me jealous? Am I crazy and possessive?
Monday, July 9, 2018

Co-worker's drinking habits don't make her alcoholic
She frequents the company's liquor cabinet and has a drink every day. She doesn't drink in the morning, but as soon as it's the afternoon, she pours herself a mixed drink. I feel this is abnormal, and I'm wondering if I should mention it to someone. What do you think I should do about this situation?
Saturday, July 7, 2018

Woman worried her body isn't bikini-ready
I want to be comfortable in my skin and love my body, but it's so hard when I see my friends in bathing suits. I know that I can't compare myself to other people, but how can I stop when I see skinny girls at the beach or on Instagram?
Friday, July 6, 2018

Parents don't understand why recent grad wants time off
I'm 21 and will have the rest of my life to work; I just want some time off. Do you think I would need to have another conversation with them about taking some time off for them to understand?
Thursday, July 5, 2018

Harriette pleads for hope on Independence Day
On this day that we celebrate the independence of our country, I want to appeal to the best within us.
Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Mom finding it hard to deal after brother's murder
My uncle was a single man without children, so it's just like he's gone. That's it. It's almost like he never existed. My mom can't handle it. She's been drinking a lot and crying. How can I be there for her during this hard time?
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Reader being deported struggles to calm daughter
I am being deported back to Mexico within the next few weeks. My kids are legal citizens here, so they will be able to stay with my mother. I'm scared to leave them because who knows when I'll see them again. I have two daughters, and my youngest wants to come with me. How do I explain that she'll have a better life here, even if I'm in Mexi
Monday, July 2, 2018

Dating a student could cause problems for professor
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a sophomore in college, and I'm in a relationship with my professor. He's 27 and just graduated from grad school last year, so we're within the same age group, since I just turned 20. 
Saturday, June 30, 2018

Woman upset that baby sister is engaged before her
DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm 27 years old, and I am the middle child of three girls. My sisters and I are extremely close, and we rarely ever argue. About two months ago, my baby sister got engaged to her college boyfriend. I'm trying to be happy for her, but I am struggling. I never would have thought that I would be getting married after my little sister. I know she didn't do anything wrong, but I am so upset. I feel embarrassed that she is engaged before me, and I feel embarrassed that I am even mad about the situation in the first place! 
Friday, June 29, 2018

Man upset by friend hanging out with ex-girlfriend
I feel like my friend was trying to hide the fact he was going to be at a party with my ex-girlfriend. Is it irrational that I am upset about this?
Thursday, June 28, 2018

Staying late at work shows dedication to job
I've been working here only a week, but every day, most the office stays past 6. I feel awkward getting up and leaving at 6, considering I'm the only one and I'm new. Do you think I should talk to the CEO to go over my hours again?
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Brother feeling depressed after accident
He used to be such a positive, happy person, and I want to get him back to that place, regardless of his current situation. How can I make him see that the more positive he is, the more likely he is to heal?
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Anniversary of brother's death deserves recognition
My mom and dad struggled a lot with his death, and I want to show them that he will always be with us. What is a meaningful thing to do on the anniversary of his death?
Monday, June 25, 2018

Artist wants to follow passion and make money
I want to be an artist because it's one of the things that helps me express myself. My mother says to follow my dream, but my father thinks it's a hobby that won't help me financially. I somewhat agree with him, but it is my passion and I don't want to look back on my life and regret not following through. Is there a way to be an artist as well as have a job?
Saturday, June 23, 2018

Friend's death brings up question of condolences
I'm not quite sure what to do now. I want to show my respect. We know his family a little bit, but we only hung out at the club. His mother is still living. Would it seem odd to reach out to her? I met her once before.
Friday, June 22, 2018

Husband's conference offers opportunity for travel
Next month, my husband has a business conference in the Bahamas. I was invited to go along, but we would have to leave our kids behind. If I go, it would be the first trip without our kids since they were born. Part of me wants to go to spend quality time with my husband, but the other part of me feels an immense amount of guilt for leaving my two kids alone for a week. Both of our moms live nearby and have offered to help. What do you think I should do?
Thursday, June 21, 2018























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