Sunday, January 31, 2010

From My Orbit

As you all know, original letters are here.

LW#1: There are a lot of red flags on this play. You read a lot of self-help books, and yet you realize that you're a controlling, judgmental, unloving, abusive creep when you're in a relationship. You want to change, obviously. And I bet you've been flamed to kingdom come by all the right people.

Well, this is a serious problem so I have two tips from you. Number one, get a shrink. Seriously. Like NOW. There should be one on campus, if not some sort of referral service that can help you find a cheap or no-cost alternative.

Number two: Read up on feminism. I swear to God, this is a framework that will lift so many scales from your eyes your mind will blow up. At its bottom, feminism says that women are people, too. Women who are allowed to have the failings you yourself work so hard not to have (like occasional casual sex -- where no one gets hurt -- is a bad thing? Come on, dude!). Women whose worth is not measured solely by their conformity to your ideas of what they should be, but by the profoundness of who they actually are. Women who have histories that you don't have to know because you can know the personality that has sprung from those histories, and cherish that personality.

A special note on jealousy: You need to let the idea that a woman is tainted by her previous relationships go, because guess what? She did not belong to those men and she does not currently belong to you. You have nothing to be jealous of, because she as a person is not yours. You should consider yourself two people who are lucky enough to have the time you have together. Because really, all you have in this world is time, your brain, your body. And that's it.

I'm also totally freaked out by your feeling that you and your girlfriend have to be perfect in all ways. I know you're young, but you're a human being, and as such, you have failings. Denial of your personal failings leads to some really awful, wacked-out behavior that is actually always way way worse than those human failings.

Anyway, get thee to a shrink. A feminist one, at that. And for the love of little baby tree frogs stop doing this ridiculous "we fell in love like superfast" without recognizing that those dopamine drops and instantaneous attractions are clear and present warning signs that you're about to fall into old, destructive patterns.

Good luck!

Special to Orbiters: Isn't it interesting that the inverse of "He's great but he wants me to drop 20 pounds and all contact with my family" is "She's great but she had teh secks before she met me and for reasons of which I disapprove even though I was not a partner to said secks"? That is, that it all boils down to the same problem but from two different perspectives?

LW#2: Hon, you don't owe Ted anything.

That was your mother's money to spend (so to speak), and so she did.

Sounds to me like Ted could use a little tough love from Michelle Singletary (and really, who ARE these people who think a job that requires, max, a high school degree can support a family? What are they smoking? Why do so many Americans totally fail to recognize that the dream of a working father, SAHM and 2.5 kids has only been a reality for a very small group of people for any significant time at all? That it is not a birthright, either?). She would totally call him out for being triflin'.

I would withhold any hush money. Otherwise he'll just become a whiny pain every time he needs something, but to you instead of your parents.

Also, send him a copy of the letter.

The thing you do owe someone is a break, for yourself! You have done everything right, and against the odds. So pay down your mortgage/put a down payment on a home, put some away for college for the kids and use the rest to get that new appliance you need and save for the car repair bills you know are coming eventually.

LW#3: This is a crazy, crazy lady. Just give her a hairy eyeball and walk on.

Look at it this way: She isn't going to stop burning bridges with just you. Eventually, she'll have to go to a whole new neighborhood to wreak her special crazy havoc.

LW#4: Unfriend her. Duh.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

From My Orbit

As per usual, original letters are here.

LW#1: It's kind of hard to know what to say here since two couples, one vacation rental, two weeks kind of sounds like a Bob and Alice and Ted and Joan (or whatever that movie or book or whatever was titled) situation.

On one hand, you guys all totally get along and like each other, but the limits of that like were tested. Most people end up sick and tired of the other couple's habits. But apparently you guys got along so great that unexpected sex occurred, driving the limits in the opposite of their usual direction (ie towards too much intimacy).

I've been trying to think what I'd do if I were in your shoes, and the answer is this: Let the friendship fade. If you truly and honestly believe that this was a one-off on both their parts, then you know that the closeness between your family and theirs can get a little crazy.

I also think you need to work on your boundaries as a person, your husband's boundaries as a person, and your boundaries as a couple. There are appropriate intimate relationships, and there are icky ones, and this friendship got all icky all fast, and obviously both you guys and they have something going on that trips all y'all's triggers in inappropriate ways.

LW#2: The solution is to take her out to eat more or start cooking yourself. "I am a partner in a large law firm" says to me that maybe you can even HIRE someone to do the cooking for you!

Also consider getting yourself tested for allergies. And having your wife's iron gut tested for what it can do for military sciences.

LW#3: It is time for your yard to become just your yard again.

Sure, the death of a young man is a pretty big event for your yard to have been the scene of. But your yard is also where kids play, dogs scratch dirt and newpaper delivery boys (who are woefully undertipped) leave your papers by accident on occasion.

So go ahead and reclaim your yard. Take the stuff that has accumulated to his family's, and say that you want them to have these memorial items. His memory is now for them to maintain, you can't bear the burden of it being in your yard anymore. Make it clear that you are trying to be as respectful as possible of the things that have accumulated, of their sensitivity. Because they are probably extremely ceremonial people, try to collect the things in as ceremonial a way possible, perhaps going so far as to rearrange everything on a pallet. I am dead serious.

You may want to throw in something (true or not) that their son's death was a wrenching experience for you, and it is hard to see these memorials up day in and out.

BTW, if you find a drunk, dying green spacelady in an orange bikini in your yard, having crashed her saucer on the way back from an intergalactic disco boogie, don't let people put clutter in your yard in my memory. I think it's a distraction, tacky and frankly it's just a bunch of clutter.

LW#4: These friends of yours are going to lose a lot of friends fast if they demand their money for multilevel (ie pyramid) marketing schemes. So tell them that if they're after your money, you're not interested. But when they want to be friends, you'll be around.

As for your customers, I'm going to say listen to the P-dawg here. Stay tactful and upbeat, but for the love of all things holy, there is no reason on this earth to get that $40/bottle Mona Vie.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

From My Orbit

As per usual, originals can be found here.

LW#1: You say you watch scantily-clad neighbors through their curtains, and you wonder if this is a form of cheating on your wife, to whom you are happily married even though you're in your 20s.

I suppose it's a lot easier to ask, "Am I a cheater?" than, "Am I a creepy peeping Tom?"

Because the answer to the cheating is no, you're not. But as to the question about whether or not you are gross is a definitive yes.

You also ask if you should reach out to these neighbors and tell them they've been putting on a show for months and to please draw the curtain. I'd phrase it as "I saw you through your window by accident the other day."

Some may say that the girls have no reasonable expectation of privacy, or that they probably don't even care and don't mind flashing the neighborhood because they're sluts. But unless they are spending lingering amounts of time posing in front of their windows like red light district prostitutes, they are counting on coincidence and neighborliness to keep them safe from prying eyes.

Apparently they couldn't count on yours. And that's a lesson to us all, says the alien who had a large window (though somewhat high) facing the street and a mini trampoline she used to bounce around on in her T-shirt and undies after a long day to loosen up while the blinds were up.

Special to Prudie: When two people make a date to violate the privacy of another person for sexual titillation, that's even creepier than one sad horndog caught off-guard.

LW#2: OMG. You should have just declined when you learned it was about work. Take it from me, there is some crap that goes on that you just flat out do not need or want to know.

You are all bad actors, and this is a dumb situation. Can all three of you not learn from it and move on like adults?

LW#3: You are terrified of spiders, yet for him you bought a tarantula. And though you nightly have (somewhat unjustified) terrors of the thing, you have lived with it for two years.

While your husband has open eyes about the lack of safety hazard caused by tarantulas (although I'd hate to think of a curious toddler putting it in his mouth), he is apparently completely blinded to his duty to be mindful of your needs, including your need to feel safe. And now you're reproducing with him.

What else is there about him that you have learned to ignore, much like you ignore that tarantula in that corner of the room?

For the record: Getting a pet that is a predator and undomesticated, like a tarantula or a snake, means not only taking on certain risks, but taking on an animal that will never love you. Do not enter into this sort of pet ownership with a light heart and an easy mind.

LW#4: Just ignore the creep. Presumably, if he doesn't lessen his creeper ways, you'll know the legal avenues to take to deal with him.

Friday, January 8, 2010

From My Orbit

As per usual, original letters are here.

Hey there gorgeous people.

I have been a bad alien. I have neglected you. It hasn't just been this week, but several where I have been late.

Out here, in space, I have had some new work assignments. They are permanent. And while I am so far liking to loving them, they are keeping me way busy. It is a terrible thing, but it is Friday evening your time and I have just now begun to read the Proodster.

I hate to tell you that this may be a new reality we may have to adjust to, but ... there is no way with this new work situation that I'm going to be able to sneakily do an FMO, much less sign into my top secret blogger account. And it looks like I will have to take a more ringside

I hope that you can be strong. For me. >8-)

On to the letters!

LW#1: Ew. Ew ew ew ew ew.

I think you handled this as well as could be expected. I am very skeptical of the idea that nervous boys, about to be called out on their not knowing something, reach to make sure their balls are still attached to their bodies. I mean, I suppose this is possible, but I am really hoping Prudie's daughter's male classmates are actually getting some of this taunting she is talking about, because I don't remember boys adjusting themselves in class when I was little.

Insert "parents today/kids today" rant.

Frankly, if you are calling them out on being nasty, that is obviously something they need to hear. Don't bother getting some older dude to "rap with them." Just short and sweet say, "Dude, your hands were around your sweaty twigs and berries! Get away from my computer until you have Purelled yourself into next Wednesday!" then move on. That should suffice.

And, for the record, why are teenage boys so gross? It seems such a shame considering how horny they are, too.

LW#2: Are Prudie and I catching up at the very same time on "The Sopranos" season three? The most interesting effect about watching that show is I curse like a f*cking mobster for about three hours after I watch it. And I start thinking about how nice some gabbagool would taste.

Anyway, "My dad was this totally awesome guy who never made any rules or set any boundaries because he was passed out on the couch pretty much all the time" is not going to cut it. It's not only going to upset your mother, it's pretty much calculated to upset everyone.

Now, I am going to step back a moment and say that I think it's very interesting that you have created such a passive image of your father. You're acting like he's already dead! You even talk about him in the past tense! I mean, passing out may be all he did when you were a kid, but dysfunctional alcoholics rarely are so completely disengaged from their family. Usually they're manipulative, especially to their enablers. Like your mother, who clearly was one.

That is to say: There is a world of crap beneath what you have said. And I think your throwing up your hands to your mother is a very passive, almost your-father-like way, of dealing with the situation.

Not that it's a bad thing to not want to dig if you're getting along just fine in your life. Sometimes digging can only lead to more trouble. On the other hand, look at "The Sopranos". Tony's therapy illuminates only the fact that he hates his mother, and is so disgusted by her sexuality (which was only apparently aroused by meat his father got through violence) he passes out when he sees meat. The fact that he hates his mom kills him inside. And she hates him back, telling Uncle Junior to put out a hit on him.

Although Tony's therapy never seems to work (I mean, it's sort of the framework around which the show's concept was built), the stories you tell yourself about your father, and the stories you avoid remembering about your father, are significant to you. I think if you go through these stories with clear eyes and a forgiving heart (to yourself at least, to your mother if possible, to your father, who is still alive, if you can bear to), you may make some breakthroughs that will help you, if not your parents.

I'm not saying you have to dredge your memory for something positive about the man, I'm saying that as much as you reject the man, he appears to have an influence on you. I'm not saying that a eulogy is a place to confront this, much less make him out to be some kind of heroic person, but you should start somewhere, and hopefully before your father dies.

Good luck!

LW#3: I think you're going to have to be honest with your friend. It's what friends do. And also, if you know she likes you for you and not your piano money, you know it is real.

LW#4:  I suppose it takes a certain amount of balls to just text someone "u want 2 go out? Got tix 4 Avatar 2nite" instead of calling. So you could look at it that way.

Plus, it's just a date. Let me reiterate. It's JUST. a. Date.

Besides, the asking via text may not be showing a certain lack of confidence. You may have to actually go out to Avatar to see Mr. Textypants in action, showing a pretense of complete lack of awareness of other people as he texts through the movie. Those may not be the balls that you are looking for, but the thing is, you never really know how confident a person is until after a few dates. We're all on our (alleged) best behavior for the first few dates, and we're all kind of nervous.

Besides, imagine a life in which you are tired of not ever being asked out in any way shape or form, you lucky little ducky.

Besides, there is a cute, flirty way you can handle this. Text back, "If u call me to ask I'll say yes."

I find it less offensive to text for a date than to dismiss a semi-flirty text with a huff instead of responding with a semi-flirty text. Unless you know the texter is a ball-adjusting passing out drunk piano teacher or something.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

From My Orbit

I am so late on this, I apologize. Needless to say, I have been making a report back to the home planet, and showing it and its exotic ways (like black eyed peas for New Year) to the Astronaut.
LW#1: She really wants a job there? She will have to find a way to get it. Although it may have been kind of gnarly of you to keep this job application all top secret, the idea that she is saying SHE thinks YOU would HATE IT at that place is pretty weird posturing on her part.

If she were smart she would look at you as a means to her preferred end, job skills alignment/needs or not. You know, as her mole/source for employment there in the event you make the cut at all. But it sounds like she's not really that smart. I mean, really.

My only advice for you is to look at this job on its own merits and your own plans for the future and let her recuperate from her own mistakes. Just because she's jealous doesn't mean you need to walk all carefully around her, or even go after her. Her timing is off, and she is going to have to do more to get what she wants than hoping for a particular opening for her in the place she thinks she wants to work.

LW#2: As long as you're not a little too constant in mentioning your mother (you know, like, friend to waiter: "I think I'd like a Coke." You: "Mom loved Coca-cola."), then just remember that other people don't know how to address loss in general, much less the specific, tragic loss of a mother at a young age.

Maybe you can interrupt their silence with, "Sorry if that's awkward. I'm doing okay."

LW#3: Ah, the open adoption and the myriad social awkwardnesses opened up by incorporating yet one more branch of an extended family into your own.

Well, I think both you and your wife have valid points. It's perfectly natural for her to want her child to be her child. It is perfectly natural to accept a gift to benefit him from someone that you kind of sort of had some kind of contact with, and that you know cares about his welfare.

There is a huge gulf between "worm their way in" and "take away," and you seem to be blind to it. So first, put those eyelids up. How much privacy do you and your wife want in the way you are raising your son? How much do you want him to be part of *your* family, ie not having more grandparents than your and your wife's parents? How does she feel? (Sometimes, I'm sure you'll be surprised to learn, people don't even like their own parents telling them what to do to properly raise a kid.)

At this point, there's no telling what, exactly, the biogrand was hoping for (could have been a farewell gift), but it sounds like this is a boundary you and your wife will have to set and maintain. As a unit. That you aren't really aware of the whole family dynamic — of the biomom, the biograndmom, etc. — and what their expectations of their relationships with the baby and you and your wife, says to me that you may not be in a very good position to decide what to do with the gifts in a sensitive way. (Apologies if you post to the Fray, I haven't seen anything there yet and I know I'm totes late.)

Anyway, this sounds less like a letter for the internet lady and more like a nice, long talk with your wife, and then with the biograndmother.

LW#4: Okay, that first sentence was confusing. I was all, "Your teen is dating a man your age???? DOUBLE YOO TEE EFF??"

So all your needs are being filled except this one? And it has moved you to write to the internet lady? Really?

Either come back with the real problem that is nagging at you or be grateful for what you have. If this lack of flowers is the hill upon which you want to die, I think that is a problem the Fray would be happy to help you understand their point of view with.