cereta: Laura Cereta (cereta)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR HARRIETTE: I work in a typical “millennial office.” We have beer in the fridge, a frequently used table tennis table and no dress code. Most of the employees are men in their mid-20s, so shorts and a T-shirt is the go-to work look for them. As a woman, I feel like I would look silly if I started wearing dresses and more formal wear to the office even though I want to, since I usually have plans after work. I don't want to look stuffy at work, but I don't want to look like a slob when I'm out with my friends. Is there any in-between? -- No Tees in the Bar, New York City

DEAR NO TEES IN THE BAR: Get creative. You can develop a personal style that stays casual but is more dressed up than the average guy at your office. Look around. There’s bound to be someone who dresses a notch above the norm. You can also choose to dress up on occasion when you have after-work events. If somebody ribs you, tell them you have an event to attend and leave it at that. You can also bring a change of clothes to work and slip into your dress just before you head out. Most important is for you to feel confident in your appearance and clear that you can make personal choices that extend beyond the casual norm.
cereta: Laura Cereta (cereta)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR HARRIETTE: My cousin and I have been close for all my life. We are about the same age, and we go to the same college. We applied to all the same schools and even have the same major. It has been fun having her to share the college experience with.

This morning, I received a text message from my cousin asking me to write a research paper for her. She offered me compensation for this. I was stunned. I have never even thought about having someone else do my work. I warned her about plagiarism and that her academic integrity is being placed on the line. How can I get the point across that she should never try to get out of doing her own work? -- Not Your Words, Syracuse, New York

DEAR NOT YOUR WORDS: It is doubtful that you can change your cousin’s mind about her unethical behavior. What you can do is put your foot down and let her know where you stand. Have a sincere conversation with her. Talk about your life together and all the things that you have enjoyed together over the years. Remind her of how excited you both were when you got into the same college. Impress upon her how special you believe it is that the two of you are on this journey together. Then, tell her that you do not think it is honest or wise to blur the lines the way she has suggested. Tell her that you absolutely will not write a paper for her, and that you do not think this is a path she should travel. Urge her to dig in and do the work herself.
cereta: Barbara Gordon, facepalming (babsoy)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR HARRIETTE: My neighbor has been having sprinkler consultations for the past few weeks because he doesn't want even a drop of his water to land on my lawn. I have my own system that works just fine and has been great for years. It's not fancy, but it keeps my lawn healthy.

I honestly think that this guy is crazy, but my wife is encouraging me to have a conversation to see why he is truly doing this. I don't think this is some sort of hidden issue with boundaries -- some neighbors are simply unbearable. Do I give in to the urging of my wife or take this man for who he is? -- Grass Is Greener, Pikesville, Maryland

DEAR GRASS IS GREENER: Start by taking a deep breath. Stop assuming what your neighbor's motive is, especially since you tend to assume the negative. You cannot know what your neighbor's intention is without asking. But please do not ask with anger or hostility in your tone. Before asking, consider the range of reasons he may be doing this. One could be that he should not be watering your lawn without your permission. In truth, he really should be able to control where his sprinklers direct their spray.

Go with curiosity. Ask your neighbor why he has been interviewing so many sprinkler businesses. What is he looking for? Be curious about his research. If you firmly believe he is trying to keep water off your lawn, ask him if that is the case. Let him know that it would not offend you if some of his water touched your grass even as you point out what system you already have in place.

Know that he may not tell you what he has in mind for his lawn, and that's his prerogative. Ultimately, you may have to ignore his research efforts. As long as he does nothing to harm your lawn or your property, you may have to shrug this off as him just being an obsessive neighbor.
cereta: "Candid" shot from Barbie Princess Charm school of goofy faces. (Barbie is goofy)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR HARRIETTE: My best friend is convinced that bleaching her hair after a bad breakup is the only way to get over her ex. Clearly, this isn't true and will completely ruin her hair for years to come. I don't think the damage is worth it and have never even dyed my hair, yet I've gotten over breakups just fine.

I already told her this would be like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die, but she is not having it. Have I done enough as a friend to stop her? I don't want to be the soundboard to her complaints after she goes through with this. -- Bleach Blonde, Las Vegas

DEAR BLEACH BLONDE: People find all kinds of unusual ways to say goodbye to bad relationships. While bleaching absolutely does damage your hair, for most people, the hair will grow back, and you can cut the dry, bleach-burned hair off. In other words, your best friend's way of exorcising her grief may not be the worst choice she could have made.

As far as you having to listen to her lament the state of her hair sometime down the line, it will be up to you what you do when she starts the complaints. You can foreshadow your intended reaction by telling her now that when her hair starts falling out, she shouldn't come to you for sympathy. But in the moment, you will have to speak up and tell her you are unwilling to hear to her sob story because you really did predict that it would happen. Good luck with that!
cereta: Close-up of Merida from Brave, text "Fights Like a Girl" (Merida)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR HARRIETTE: I don't want my teenage children going to the marches and protests taking place in my city. These marches are for causes I support, like women's rights, the environment and raising the minimum wage. But these marches can get dangerous and almost always have a police presence. Also, I am not sure how much of a positive impact they end up having in the long run. How can I ensure that my teenagers are in school and not out on the street with signs? -- Skipping School, New York City

DEAR SKIPPING SCHOOL: I want to encourage you to rethink your position. The fact that your teenage children want to be involved in the political process and speak up about their thoughts is a good thing. It will encourage active participation in the voting process when they come of age. Of course you want them to be safe. A different approach might be to offer to go with them, letting them know that you want to protect them from harm. You can also give them instructions on how to be in a crowd, including not pushing their way into a crush of people where it can get dangerous, even when people are well meaning. You can find out from their school if any organized or chaperoned efforts are being considered as these protests pop up.

Reality says you may not be able to prevent them from going. What you want to avoid is having them lie to you. Then you really won’t be able to protect them. I recommend that you keep the dialogue open, talk about safety and possibly even become their chaperone.
cereta: Wendy Watson in Goggles (Wendy goggles)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex-girlfriend is a little too invested in my family. My mother regularly texts her, and I get unnerved when I see her name pop up on my mom's screen. I haven't brought my new girlfriend home because of my mother's close relationship with my ex. Do I just ignore the fact that they are still in contact? My ex and I do not speak. -- Unnecessary BFFs, Denver

DEAR UNNECESSARY BFFS: You and your mother need to get on the same page. Visit her by yourself, and ask her if you can have a heart-to-heart talk. Honestly explain to her that it makes you uncomfortable that she and your ex are close. Acknowledge that you did appreciate how welcoming she was to this woman, but remind her that you are not in a relationship with her now, and you are not even speaking to each other.

Make it clear to your mother that you have a girlfriend whom you would like to bring around to meet your mom, but you have hesitated because your mother is so enmeshed with your ex. Ask your mother to sever or at least reduce her interaction with your ex so that she can create space for your new girlfriend. Further, make it clear to her that you do not want her sharing anything about your new girlfriend with your ex.

Just so you know, this situation is not as uncommon as you may think. Especially if you dated your ex for a long while and she spent considerable time with your mother, it is understandable that they developed a relationship. Still, you really do need your mother to honor your life as it is today. I will add that you should be mindful of whom you bring home. Your mother has already shown you that whomever you bring will be welcomed with open arms. Be conscious and intentional about who deserves to meet your family.
cereta: Audrey from Haven (Audrey)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband surprised me with a dress to wear out on our anniversary. I was surprised by this gesture and wore the dress proudly. I thought this would be a one-time thing. Now, my husband wants to dress me or gives his not-always-positive input on my outfits. I took his first gesture as a fun way to connect, but now I'm regretting opening this door. How can I ask my husband to step back and to stop buying me the clothing he wants me to wear? -- Fashion Emergency, Shreveport, Louisiana

DEAR FASHION EMERGENCY: Clearly, your husband is trying to send you a message. Before you say anything, do a visual review of what he has bought for you and what you have chosen for yourself. Figure out what the difference is between the two wardrobes and if there is anything that you like about his choices. This does not mean that you should feel OK about him putting down your choices. This may also be a fun way for you to connect with each other that sparks some youthful romance.

Feel free to tell him that while you enjoy dressing up for him, you want to take back the control of your wardrobe. Soften the blow by asking him what excites him in wardrobe choices so that you can sprinkle some of those features into your outfits.
cereta: Val Stone from Stone Soup saying "Please" (Val Stone)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR HARRIETTE: My family is riddled with divorce. Practically every couple in two generations has split. Remarriages occur and create happy family members. My brother has been single for years after a string of bad relationships following a divorce. His ex moved the children to another state, and he works himself to the bone to be able to provide for them. I feel bad for him; it seems like he doesn't have any hobbies or happiness in his life.

I am getting remarried soon, so he will be the only single sibling. He got himself three cats recently, which I was against because it prohibits him moving freely. How can I involve my brother in my life to make sure he's doing all right? I've been working on trying to get him to move to my state, but to no avail. -- Building His Life Up, Boulder, Colorado

DEAR BUILDING HIS LIFE UP: Divorce is hard on the whole family and usually friends, too, so it's natural that you would like to figure out how to comfort your brother as you and the rest of the family seem to have moved on. As you attempt to help him, do know that you cannot spark happiness in his life -- nor is it your responsibility.

That said, you can make an effort. Invite him to join you for a sibling date. Invite him to come to visit you. Or suggest a sibling date without your spouse -- just you two or you and your other siblings -- where you go someplace fun and spend time together. Insist that he show up, and make sure that your life doesn't get too busy for you to go. Stay connected. That's what you can do.

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Agony Aunt

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