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home : columns May 25, 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

Market dip worries future retiree
My parents used to talk about hiding money in their mattress. It was very old-school thinking, but now I understand the value of their thoughts. I am closer to retirement today than I was before the markets started crashing. My 401(k) has tanked in recent weeks. What I thought was a decent retirement is worth pennies now. I wish I had stashed some money in my house. Now I'm not sure what to do. What is your advice? -- Dwindling Retirement
Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Pandemic response exposes class differences
I live in New York City, and the disparity between the haves and have-nots is so real, it's scary. We are an average family, but we see now that being middle class almost equals being poor these days. Many of my neighbors packed up and shipped out as soon as news of the pandemic hit our city, which has more cases than anywhere else. It was like a Friday evening in the summer, when everybody goes to the Hamptons or to wherever their country homes are. We don't have a country home.
Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Husband won't take health warnings seriously
My husband thinks that he is invincible. He never gets sick -- or so he says. He is not afraid of the new coronavirus. Meanwhile, my three kids and I suffer from asthma.
Monday, April 6, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: My school has recently gone online for the duration of the spring semester due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. The professors are scrambling to adjust to these new changes.
Saturday, 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

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