Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Lack Of Sleep Is Tazi-Kat's Worst Nightmare

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I went to bed tonight at 10PM, completely exhausted. It is now 1 AM and I cannot sleep. This is a recurring problem, so I was hoping you could offer me some suggestions, since cats never seem to have an issue with falling asleep. My doctor has suggested sleeping pills, but I do not want to take them because they can become habit forming (plus, they are not cheap and I do not have prescription coverage).

Do you know of any all natural ways to fall asleep - and stay that way for more than a few hours?

Sleepy But Not Asleep

Dear Sleepy:

You are correct in your knowledge that cats are champion sleepers! However, much of the time that it appears we are sleeping is when we are actually just lightly dozing. We remain conscious of our surroundings, as well as the slightest sounds - like the electric can opener, the sound of cat cereal being poured into a dish, or the door to the outside opening. It sounds to me like you sleep like a cat does when other are around - very lightly.

I can understand your hesitancy to take sleeping pills, since sleep should be the most natural thing in the world; but often times there is an imbalance in the brain chemistry that disrupts circadian rhythms - that's the sleeping/waking cycle that our bodies naturally experience. Many people have found success in conquering their sleeping troubles with a small dose of melatonin a few hours before bed each night. However, if you are adamant against taking any kind of pill or supplement, there are other ways to help you fall - and stay - asleep.

The scent of lavender makes people sleepy and continuous exposure guarantees continued sleep (which could be why so many hospitals use lavender scented disinfectants). Try spraying your pillow with lavender oil just before bed, or tucking a lavender sachet under your pillow. If there is someone special in your life, ask them to rub your feet with lavender scented baby oil (my Mommie did this to me once, after I got Christmas tree sap in my paws. I slept for three days straight!). Other relaxing scents are vanilla, and sage (just do not use the popular combination of citrus and sage, as citrus will energize you).

Relaxing meditation with or without relaxing sounds of nature CD's is another way to fall - and stay - asleep. Why not try this? Just as you start to feel sleepy, lay down in bed in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Let go of all thoughts about your life, and imagine you are someplace restful; a place that, if you could go anywhere, would be your secret hideaway from the world. Is it a warm beach? A mountain pine forest? A secret garden with butterflies dancing over your head? Take the time to explore your relaxing surroundings. Can you smell the salty air? The pine-fresh scent? The flowers in the garden? Inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Are you alone, or is someone with you? Don't speak! What sounds do you hear? Continue with this meditation until you drift off to dreamland. If you find yourself waking up a few hours later, relax and think about your secret hideaway.

Hopefully one of these, or a combination of these, techniques will help you. I cannot imagine how awful it must be not to get in at least 18 hours a day of restful napping!

-- Tazi-Kat

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Message From Tazi-Kat!

Dear Readers:

Today is Thanksgiving, a day set aside each year to give pause and think about the blessings in our lives. Whatever your personal beliefs about the holiday - political, religious, or a lack of either - today is a day to give appreciation for those who make our lives special. Today, I would like to use this space to offer praise to those who make my life special; and thanks for the things that make me a happy kitty!

I am thankful for:

My Mommie, who rescued me from the shelter when I reached out to her - literally. More dead than alive when the shelter brought me in, I would huddle in the back of my cage; fearful of everyone. When she walked in, something about her attracted me. My instincts told me she would be a good Mommie, so I rushed forward; stuck my paw through the cage; hooked my claws into her sweater; and pulled her close to me. We have been inseparable ever since.

My Co-Mommie, who is actually my Grand-Mommie, but she does not like being called that. Every night, after a long day of napping (on my part, not hers) she provides a lap for me to curl up in and cuddle. I love my evening snuggles! Every morning, Co-Mommie wakes early to keep me company and take care of my needs. She claims that she wakes early to get ready for work, but I know the truth: she just wants some alone time with me, before my nap schedule kicks in for the day.

My "Uncle Person", who comes over every day just to visit with me! (He claims he comes by to see my Mommie, but I know better!). He is my very favorite person in the whole, wide world, and I know that he feels the same way about me! How could he not? I hope that someday, he comes to live with us!

For something my humans call "treats". I am not sure why they taste so much better than my cat cereal (what my humans call "dry food") but there is something about them that makes me want to gorge myself...and then throw them all up on the rug to make room for more!

For cat-nip; and for the fact that humans have yet to discover how awesome it is!

For soft blankets, on which I take my naps, and for something new I recently discovered: a hole in the wall where warm air blows out of when it is cold. What a great invention!

For all of you, who read my column; write me letters; and leave me comments. I truly enjoy writing this column; and thank you for letting me be a part of your life!

Once upon a time, I was an abandoned kitty; left on the streets to fend for myself in the cold and the snow. Now, I am safe and warm; pampered and attended to; surrounded by people who care about me, who love me no matter what (even when I jump on their pool table in the middle of a game!). I have a lot for which to be thankful...and it is my hope, dear Readers, that you do as well! A Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

-- Tazi-Kat

P.S. Reduce, reuse, recycle! Think globally and act locally by giving your turkey scraps to the cat in your life!

Monday, November 21, 2011

An Unmade Bed Leads To Larger Issues In This Marriage

Dear Tazi-Kat:

My beautiful and loving wife and I are having a disagreement, and I want your opinion. I was raised that after you wake up in the morning you make the bed. I would sooner walk out of the house naked than leave without making the bed! My wife, on the other hand, does not make the bed and will leave it unmade all day because "nobody sees it, and we are just going to mess it up again when we sleep in it tonight." I have tried to explain to her that a freshly made bed feels better than one that has been left unmade all day; and that leaving it unmade results in needing to change the sheets twice a week, instead of just once a week like she does now (she also refuses to catch on to this hint).

Her refusal to make the bed is really starting to grate on my nerves, because I do not have the time to make the bed before my hour commute to work. Coming home at the end of the day and seeing an unmade bed puts me in a bad mood; and lately during the day I have been thinking about coming home and seeing an unmade bed, which sours my mood before I even leave the office.

My wife and I have two young children who are still in cribs, and I am dreading the day that they get "big boy beds" because I am afraid that will just mean more unmade beds littered throughout the house. I have tried to let go of this issue, but I just can't - and it is starting to affect how my wife treats me while we are in bed. How can I make her see reason, Tazi-Kat?

Neat Nick

Dear Neat Nick:

I will admit that I love the feel of a freshly made bed. There is something about creeping up under the bedspread and tunneling under the bedclothes that makes me purr! if you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you will see a picture of me doing just that! Now, about your question: Before I can answer it, I need to ask you a few questions myself!

Is your wife a full-time homemaker or does she have a career, too? Are the sheets falling off of the bed, necessitating that the entire bed be remade or are they just a bit messy each morning? And does one of you sleep later than the other or do you both wake at the same time?

If your wife is a full-time homemaker, I cannot see why she cannot find five minutes - at some point during the day - to make the bed, even with two young children in her care. Little ones take naps during the day, granting harried Moms a reprieve. I realize your wife needs her "me time", but taking 5 minutes (or 10, if the bed is completely torn apart) to complete a chore that would make her husband infinitely happier and the house look infinitely cleaner does not seem like too much to ask.

If your wife also holds down a career in addition to being a Mom and homemaker, I would say that you need to pitch in more - in spite of your hour-long commute to work - or complain less. Even though men today help out with the housework far more than their fathers and grandfathers ever did, the fact remains that the bulk of housework and childcare still falls upon women’s shoulders. The fact that your wife is treating you differently in the bedroom - and I am assuming this statement was a complaint - tells me that the division of household labor may be the issue your wife is having.

If having the bed made is that important to you, offer to assist your wife with this morning chore - regardless of whether or not she is a homemaker or paid career woman. Unless she sleeps until after you leave for work (and with two little ones, I highly doubt that is possible), this should not present a problem. I believe she will appreciate that you are willing to make an effort to do something that you want done, instead of just demanding that she do it for you. Often times, marriage is about compromise; and this is one of those issues where compromise sounds necessary.

-- Tazi-Kat

P.S. For the sake of decency, I hope that you were speaking metaphorically when you said you would sooner leave the house naked than leave without making the bed! This could lead to some awkward moments at the office, or even arrest for indecent exposure!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Financial Controller Is Trying to Control Too Many Variables At Once

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am a Controller with a very large firm, and I have been put in a very difficult position. I need some advice fast, so I ask that you please put my letter at the head of your advice queue. My company is running out of money - fast - due to the fact that our receivables are not being paid by our clients. We have cut our staff to the bone, and yet I can see that further cuts will be needed to stay afloat, regardless of what the company is telling the employees. Knowing this, I have been quietly interviewing with other companies.

The other day, the Vice-President of Finance called me into his office with some grave news and a difficult proposition: The company is on the verge of bankruptcy and running out of liquid assets with which to meet payroll. With the upcoming holidays, we are hoping that our clients will now have the extra money to pay their accounts current, but there are no guarantees. Because I have been with the company for so long (I started out as an Intern my senior year of college), the V.P. gave me a choice: I could accept a layoff now - with no company severance, just my unemployment benefits - or I could continue to work for no pay, with the hope that the company will right itself in about six months, at which time I will be "rewarded" for my "loyalty". Again, there are no guarantees; and the company could just as easily be out of business by that time.

I have checked my options, and I could collect unemployment so long as I was not on the company payroll (i.e. volunteering) and actively looking for another job - but if another job was offered that paid at least what I am making now, I would have to accept it or risk losing my benefits. I have asked for and been granted time to think about it; I must give my answer the Monday after Thanksgiving.

I was prepared to accept my company's offer, figuring I have nothing to lose, when another job offer came through. The problem is that the position pays much less than I expected it would and several thousand dollars less than I am currently making. I have tried negotiating for more money, but they will not budge - it is a hiring manager's market right now. I have done the math, and even with the minimum annual raise of 3% as a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), it would take me almost 10 years just to work my way back up to my current salary.

My wife and children have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and I would feel awful telling them that we would have to make some serious changes to it if I accept this job offer. On the other hand, if I don't take it I may find myself unemployed for an unknown stretch of time in the very near future, which would mean even more drastic changes to our way of living. I worked my way up from nothing, Tazi-Kat, so I a can adjust; but I am not certain that my wife and kids will. If it was just me, I would know what to do; but I have my family to consider. Should I go with the bird in hand, or hope to catch the two in the bush?

Losing Control

Dear Losing Control:

It appears to me that you have three options:

1) Stay where you are and hope that the sinking ship rights itself

2) Accept the job offer that pays less but offers some form of long-term financial security (i.e. a paying job)

3) Refuse both, accept unemployment, and continue to seek employment elsewhere.

I suggest that you not consider the "wants" of your family, just their needs. How much money does it cost to pay your rent/mortgage, education costs, food, adequate clothing (not a closet full of top designer wear), utilities, etc. Does the job you are currently being offered pay enough to cover these expenses, with at least 10% left over for emergencies? If the answer is yes, I would advise that you take the job; even if it is a just-for-now situation and you continue to look for higher pay elsewhere. Just be forewarned: just as housing prices have dropped and will most likely not return to their former levels, many companies have had to do the same with employee wages.

If the job offered does not cover your monthly expenses, things get a little trickier. Before making a decision, you need honest answers to the following questions: How long could your family live off of unemployment benefits? Do you have health coverage through a source other than your current employer? Would you lose that coverage if you accepted your current employer's offer to work for no pay? How solid is the company's thinking that the financial outlook will be improved enough to put you back on the payroll in six months? And most importantly, if you agreed to your current employer's offer, would you be allowed to schedule and attend job interviews during the work day?

It is inadvisable that you put all of your eggs in your current company's basket, so should you decide not to accept the job offer on the table, I would suggest a negotiation with your current company that would allow you to keep your health insurance as "severance" and to continue your job search in return for your "volunteer" efforts. I would also suggest complete financial transparency with your wife about the situation at hand, before you have to write to me about the problems keeping secrets has caused.

-- Tazi-Kat

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Woman Brings Hatred Of Cleaning To A Whole New Level

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I hate cleaning. I don't just mean "dislike" cleaning, I mean I truly hate it with a passion so deep that the mere thought of it depresses me. This has led to a big problem with my house, and the thought of having to tackle it overwhelms me.

I know living in filth is a sign of clinical depression, but I am not depressed - in fact, I love my life - I just hate cleaning, and am rarely home so I am not around the mess enough for it to bother me. I didn't realize how bad things had gotten until Halloween, when my best friend’s young daughter thought I had turned my home into a Haunted House. I hadn't; it's just how the place looks because I never clean it. My problem isn't with the mess, per se, but with Christmas dinner.

I am one of eight siblings and every year, along with my parents and grandparents, we rotate who will host the holidays. It has been 10 years since I last hosted Christmas, so my turn to hostess has rolled around again, which means I need to give my house a thorough cleaning. The problem is that I have not cleaned the house since the last time I hosted the holidays. In fact, the cheery red bows and other Christmas decorations from 10 years ago are still hanging on my fireplace mantle and throughout the house, although they are no longer a cheery red, but gray with dust. The rest of the house is equally dusty, dirty, and downright messy. I am seriously considering renting a hall and having Christmas catered this year, just so I don't have to go through the trouble of cleaning my house; but I am afraid my family will start asking questions. Any ideas on how I could explain this change of venue to them, Tazi-Kat?

Miss Piggy Sty

Dear Miss Piggy Sty:

I am not certain where to start. You ask for advice on how to explain the change of venue for Christmas dinner, but would it not be just as easy - and probably less expensive - to take the money you would spend on a hall and a caterer and have your house professionally cleaned? 10 years worth of dust is not only a health hazard, regardless of how little time you spend in the house; but a fire hazard, as well. With the cold weather coming turning on the heat could spark the tinderbox that your house has become, burning down the entire place.

Rather than advising you on how to explain a change of venue, I will advise you to seriously consider hiring a professional cleaning company to come through your house and scrub the place from floor to ceiling. If, however, you are truly adverse to this idea you can simply explain the change of venue to your family by telling them the truth: your house is not in any condition to receive visitors, so for the comfort of all you have rented a hall and ordered a catered dinner to alleviate the stress of preparing dinner-to-travel for so many. Just be sure to decorate the hall with all the Christmas trimmings that your family is expecting, so as not to deflate their holiday spirit.

-- Tazi-Kat

P.S. I realize that you are not clinically depressed, but a few sessions with a mental health counselor could help you get to the root of why you find cleaning so depresssing.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Special Veteran's Day Message From Tazi-Kat

Dear Readers:

Today is Veteran's Day. Whether your political stripes are Republican red, Independent white, or Democrat blue, today is a day to remember those - living and dead - who put our country and Her interests above their own, and signed on to serve in the U.S. Military.

The jobs of our Soldiers, Airmen/Airwomen, Navymen/Navywomen and Marines are not like our own. They cannot call out sick because the weather is nice and they wish to take a personal day. If, after signing on, they decide they do not like the job, they cannot simply quit - they must honor the multi-year commitment they have made to serve. When they are told that they are being transferred or deployed, they cannot say "no". They go where their leaders send them, be it across the country and away from family and friends; or across the world and into imminent danger. How many of us show such loyalty to our employers?

Whether an enlisted member or an officer, employment in the U.S. Military is more than just a job, more than just a career: it is a way of life. When they leave the "office" for the day - whether the office really is an office, or whether it is a ship or a training field or a battle site - the members of our U.S. Military do not stop representing, even if they are out of uniform; and even when they have long since retired from active duty. How many of us show such pride for our profession?

Our country's laws protect our civil rights, preventing our employers from forcing us to complete tasks that we find morally objectionable. The members of our U.S. Military give up many of these protections when they join the service. For the most part, they do not get to choose their job assignment; it is chosen for them based upon their abilities; and they do their job to the best of their abilities, even if they would prefer to be doing something else. How many of us are so accommodating of our employers?

If we, as civilians, disagree with a decision our company leaders make, we can openly argue. If a Military Journalist finds the U.S. position on foreign affairs objectionable s/he had better keep that opinion out of the articles, Editorials, and opinion pieces they write; and keep cheering for the decisions of their Commander in Chief, regardless of their true feelings. The rest of our U.S. Military must also tow the "company line", and keep dissenting opinions out of their blogs and away from the ears of their commanding officers. How many of us are so supportive of our Chief Executives? And how many of us could learn to keep our mouths shut so well?

Being a member of our U.S. Military involves sacrifice that civilians will never understand; but it also provides rewards that civilians will never experience. Being a member of the U.S. Military means you are part of a brother-and-sisterhood that goes beyond self-interest, beyond cultural background, beyond the color of your skin. It is to know that whoever you are, and wherever you are, there are those who are willing to put their life on the line to protect the importance of your mission. How many of us can say that about our co-workers?

Whatever your political stripes; whatever your beliefs on war and military spending; please take the time to say "Thank You" to a Veteran for the sacrifices they make to secure, protect, and preserve our American way of life. In the words of one Veteran - who I am certain speaks for more than self - a Veteran of the U.S. Military has "defended those who hate me, fought those who where afraid of me, aided those who didn't know me, and took shots for those who were with me". How many of us can claim to be so selfless?

Wishing you all a Happy Veterans' Day, and sending a great big THANK YOU to all of our country's Veterans!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wife's Puss In Boots Obsession Leaves A Puss On Husband's Face

Dear Tazi-Kat:

Since my problem involves a cat (sort of) I thought I would write to a cat for an answer. My wife of seven years is in love...with "Puss" from Puss in Boots. Ever since his first appearance in Shrek 2, when he makes that wide-eyed pleading look, "Elaina" has been hooked. Now that Puss has his own movie, she is beside herself with excitement and has gone to see it over thirty times so far - and it has only been in theatres for a few weeks!

Our young sons are thrilled that their Mom loves Puss as much as they do, and they run around the house imitating the feline and intoning lines from the movies in a pretty darn good imitation of the character. This sends Elaina into fits of laughter, which in turn grates on my nerves. I hate to admit it, but I think I am jealous of her affection for Puss! Is this normal? Is it healthy? Or am I crazy for feeling this way?


Dear Bootless:

If you read my profile, you will see that Puss is one of my personal heroes, so I will try to remain unbiased...but will you just look at those wee little boots? How many cats do you know that can wear boots?

The feelings you are feeling are perfectly natural, so I would not say you are crazy. Your wife has become obsessed with Puss (not that I can blame her! Have you seen how well he dances?) and the attention and affection that she would normally shower upon you is being directed towards an animated character. The fact that Puss is not a real physical being does not make this slight any less hurtful, but is probably what is making you question why you feel so jealous.

The next time your wife starts to gush over Puss, remind yourself that if Puss were in fact a real-life feline like me, your wife would probably run screaming from the room when confronted by a talking cat who walks on his hind legs, dresses in "no pants" pants, carries a sword, and parades around on his hind legs wearing thigh-high boots.

In the meantime, try to understand what it is about Puss that your wife loves so much: he is brave; he is romantic; he is a good dancer; and he is attentive to the ladies, making each woman he sees feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. Plus, that sultry voice! Women love him and men want to be him! He is the feline version of the dude from the Dos Equis commercials! Oh, now I'm gushing...sorry about that.

In order to woo your wife away from Puss and back into your arms, try to incorporate some of Puss' traits into your relationship with your wife on a day-to-day basis. Sweep her off her feet and tell her she is beautiful, dance with her in the kitchen when there is no music playing, kiss her like you did the very first time, offer her a glass of leche - or wine, if that is what she prefers - and tell her how much you love her! Such efforts will not go unnoticed, and she will be sure to take more notice of you...and less of that dashing feline in the expensive footwear.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Too Many Dating Deal Breakers Makes Woman Wonder If That Is A Deal Breaker, Too

Dear Tazi-Kat:

About four months ago, I started dating a man who is great in many ways, but has a few idiosyncrasies that I am not sure are “deal breakers”. To start, the term “deal breakers” is actually his; and in fact, he has a list of them ranging from smoking to whether or not a woman wears nail polish (he does not like either).

Once a week “Irwin” attends his “Boys Night Out”, which consists of a drop-in at the local pub. Most of his male friends attend once a month, since they are too busy to attend every week, but Irwin insists on attending every week so he “doesn’t miss anyone”. During baseball and football seasons, Irwin “plays” in a fantasy league (complete with a giant trophy for the winner!) that also meets once a week, bringing his evenings out to two nights a week; sometimes three, when the seasons overlap. I’d have no problem with this if Irwin did not take issue with me spending one Saturday night a month with my girlfriends.

Irwin insists that “Saturday night is date night”, but he never takes me out on Saturday night because it interferes with his TV viewing. Saturday night is his night to catch up on all the shows he DVR’d during the week while he was out with his friends. He tells me he would prefer it if I were there with him, but I really don’t like the shows he watches - shows like Criminal Minds and SyFy type stuff. However, if I want to see him on the weekends this is usually my only option. He has also tried to get me to delete my Facebook account, but that is where I drew the line, since it is how I keep in touch with my social circle (as opposed to fantasy sports and bar nights).

Another thing I have noticed is that Irwin can be very generous while being very cheap. If we go out to dinner, he will insist on footing the entire bill, but then complain about the cost of the meal. He also refuses to pay for things he feel should be free, like valet parking (which is free, but he refuses to tip the valet) or parking in general. We recently missed the entire first period of the Bruins game because he insisted on driving around until we found free parking – in Boston! Just as with dinner, when I offered to pay for parking so we would not miss the game, he refused.

Irwin does have his good points – he is sweet and gentlemanly, and treats his mother well – all of which are things I look for in a man. He has made it clear that he will only get serious with a woman he considers marriage material, which is why he has not asked me for a commitment yet; but at the same time he has told me he could never get serious about a woman who “plays the field”. He is constantly contradicting himself like this, so why am I so hesitant to end this relationship, Tazi-Kat? I recently asked him what kind of woman is the kind of woman he considers marriage material, but he refused to answer me because he didn’t want me to try and “mold” myself into his “perfect woman”. A part of me wants to leave…but a part of me wants to rise to the challenge Irwin has placed before me. What to do, Tazi-Kat?

Irwin’s Girl?

P.S. I have already changed Irwin’s name to an alias, but I doubt he will see this letter. He does not believe in surfing the Internet or the use of social networking sites, like Facebook (where I found your column), so feel free to be as honest as possible.

Dear Irwin’s Girl:

After reading through your letter a few times, it would appear that Irwin enjoys having complete emotional control over women, which is a form of abuse – and that, dear lady, should be a “deal breaker” for you!

While I can understand why Irwin might not want to date a woman who smokes, I am curious as to what his problem with nail polish is. As far as I know it has never been associated with cancer or other health concerns, the way second-hand smoke is. To make the wearing of nail polish a “deal breaker” sounds like Irwin wishes to control your physical appearance. As for his social schedule – Boys Night Out, fantasy sports, and TV night – that is for him to keep, just as your social schedule should be yours to keep. The fact that he tries to control your social schedule is also bothersome.

Irwin’s attitude towards money is especially telling. You say he will insist on paying for dinner, and then complain about the cost of it. It sounds as though he is trying to guilt you into staying in as opposed to going out by subjecting you to negative commentary about the cost. The refusal to allow you to pay for parking – and going so far as to miss a full third of a very expensive hockey game – has absolutely nothing to do with finances. Instead it shows a need for complete control over the situation at hand, and perhaps over you. Remember, you were in the (presumably moving) car with him, unable to leave in spite of your desire to park and get into the arena.

Irwin has not asked for a commitment from you, because he will only get serious with a woman he considers marriage material; discourages you from seeing other people by informing you that he could never get serious about a woman who plays the field; and refuses to let on where you stand by evading your questions about what kind of woman he considers “marriage material”. I can see why you might consider this a challenge issued, because this is how those who mentally abuse reel in their victims: starting by playing hard to get, then breaking them down emotionally and mentally; leaving the victim in question of his/her own habits and behaviors, in order to mold them into the person they want – someone who is completely subservient to them.

I would suggest you walk away from Irwin now, without making excuses about the holidays being so close – because after the holidays comes Valentine’s Day, and after that whatever other special occasions that can be used to guilt you into staying in this unhealthy relationship. Please write back to me in a few months to let me know how you are doing!

-- Tazi-Kat

Monday, November 7, 2011

Student Giving Thanks For Time Away From Roommate

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am a junior in college and have a roommate from Hell situation. After living in a dorm for two years, I have moved into off-campus housing this semester. I have two roommates, one of whom I can't stand. She is loud, lazy, and inconsiderate. She leaves her dirty laundry all over the place, refuses to wash her share of the dishes, keeps her stereo on all day and all night, and is generally just a miserable person with whom to live. She is also my best friend since junior high school.

This is "Lisa's" first experience living "away" from home (we are about 1/2 an hour away from our hometown). When we both lived at home with our parents, Lisa's mother made her keep her room clean, her music at an appropriate level, and complete household chores, so I never got to see the loud and messy side of Lisa. When we agreed to live together, it was with the understanding that everything would be split three ways with our third roommate, someone who was introduced to us through my college's housing department. I thought it was understood that this meant housework as well as bills, but Lisa is not holding up her end of the bargain. Although her rent is paid on time she does nothing else to contribute to the running of our household.

Our other roommate - who is a dream to live with - is getting fed-up with the situation and has threatened to move out if Lisa's behavior does not improve; and has asked me (as her best friend) to talk to her about the situation. Thus far, I have not worked up the courage to do it, and Roommate #3's patience is wearing thin. I have been taking my stress out at the gym and not on Lisa, so I don't think she realizes how unhappy I am with her.

Thanksgiving is coming up, and I cannot wait to go home to get away from all of this for a few days; but this year Lisa's parents have decided that they are going to take a Thanksgiving cruise - just the two of them, now that they have an "empty nest". This has left Lisa with nowhere to go for Thanksgiving, and she has been loudly complaining about it for the past week. It is obvious that she is trying to solicit an invitation to my Thanksgiving table, but I really need some time away from her in order to re-evaluate our living situation from a distance and draw up a game-plan for next semester (I may be writing to you again, Tazi-Kat!).

My question is, is there a polite way to rebuff Lisa's hints for a Thanksgiving invite? And do you think ignoring her requests will irreparably damage our friendship?

Seeking Some Peace

Dear Seeking Some Peace:

You are discovering a truth that many young people have discovered over the years: that best friends do not always make the best roommates. Since you have not let on that you are upset with Lisa, it is not fair of you to hold her behavior against her - although she will probably start to think something is wrong if you continue to ignore her hints about Thanksgiving.

Growing up is a process that occurs over time, at different rates for different people. For Lisa, this is probably the first time she has ever been left alone on the holidays and she could be feeling abandoned by her parents. As her best friend, she needs you to be there for her during this time of transition.

I realize that you need some time away from Lisa, but Thanksgiving Day isn't exactly the best day to choose. No decent person deserves to be alone on the holidays. I have no idea what Lisa's parents were thinking when they chose to take off and leave their daughter alone on Thanksgiving - their last chick may have flown the nest, but she is well within circling distance of it. Perhaps they thought their daughter's best friend would extend an invite to her table?

The Thanksgiving holiday is but one day, and most colleges and universities dismiss students the day before, allowing for a 5-day break and a nice visit home. Since you and Lisa only live 1/2 an hour away from home, you should be able to accommodate Lisa at your Thanksgiving dinner and have plenty of time alone to assess your living situation. An invite to dinner is not an invite to spend the entire week at your place.

I suggest that - with your host/hostess' O.K. - you invite Lisa to have Thanksgiving dinner with you, impressing upon her the fact that you have a lot of things do get done over the holiday break and the invite does not mean that you will be spending the entire long weekend together. Do make an effort to get together with Lisa at some point over this time, though, should she seek to spend more than just one day with you. This will go a long way towards reassuring Lisa that you can still be friends should you decide that you can no longer be roommates.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Daughter Gets Blamed For Mom's Internet Porn Habit

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am a horrible, evil woman undeserving of the titles "Wife" and "Mother". I am so ashamed of how I threw my daughter under the bus in order to save myself, and I want to make things right, but I don't know how. Here is my problem:

I love my husband - and I am still
in love with him - but I am no longer sexually attracted to him. After almost 20 years of marriage, the spark has slowly faded. We continue to have sex; and my husband has no idea that there are problems between us because for the past several years I have been using Internet porn to get myself riled up before bed, in order to enjoy sex with him.

I usually erase my browsing history after one of my "prep sessions", so my husband is none the wiser; and up until now, it has been a win-win situation. A few weeks ago, I was interrupted by an important phone call about my mother's health just as I was finishing my Internet browsing, and I forgot to erase my history. The next morning, my husband went to check his email and saw some of the addresses I had visited stored in our address history. When he called the racy sites into question, I panicked and told him our teenaged daughter, "Jillian", must have been exploring the sites after we had gone to bed.

I told my husband I would speak to Jillian "woman to woman" about such natural teenaged curiosities, but my husband insisted on being a part of the conversation. Jillian of course denied visiting the sites, and my husband decided to ground her for lying. She had to miss a Halloween party that she was looking forward to attending, as well as a Homecoming dance at school. Jillian is rightfully devastated, and very angry with both me and her father for not believing her.

Tazi-Kat, I want to come clean about the whole debacle; but I fear that if I do my marriage will never be the same. If I continue to keep my secret, I fear it will do irreparable damage to the relationship between my husband and daughter. My anxiety has been showing, but my husband has chalked it up to my mother's continued health issues. In the meantime, I have sworn off Internet porn and am searching for a better way to reignite my passion for my husband. I just don't know which way to turn - for either of my problems! HELP!

Hot Mama In Hot Water

Dear Hot Mama:

It appears that you have been living a lie for much longer than the past few weeks. By pretending to feel sexual passion for your husband (while secretly stoking the fires through Internet porn) you have been avoiding the opportunity to explore the reasons why your passion has faded, and denying your husband the opportunity to partner with you in working through this issue. You have multiple issues here, more than can be solved with some quick advice in this column, so I will briefly address each one and suggest further steps to take on your own.

All long-term romantic relationships go through periods of passion and platitude; it is those who find a way to balance the down periods with the ups that are able to go the distance. Open communication with your husband is an absolute must at this point. You do not have to crush your husband's ego by admitting that you have been surfing for porn for "the past several years", but you do have to admit to him that it was your browsing history, not your daughter's, that he found on the Internet. Tell him the truth: That you had not been feeling up to performing, but did not want him to suffer from your lack of libido and were trying to find a quick fix to the problem. Apologize for to lying to him, but understand that there may be a lot of work ahead of you to rebuild his trust in you.

The next step should be for you to discuss your feelings with a licensed therapist, who can help you discover why your passion for your husband has faded. You say you still love him - and that you are still in love with him - so your loss of sexual attraction could be hormonal; although this is doubtful, considering the fact that pornography works for you. It is possible that you feel "safe" with porn because you do not have to do anything to feel like you are still desirable to your husband; or it could also be a case of familiarity breeding contempt, in which case you might benefit from exploring the issue with your husband by your side. You do not say for how long your mother has had "health issues", but stress - the day-to-day kind, as well as the catastrophic kind - can sap a person's sex drive and make them want to "phone it in", so to speak.

You also owe your daughter a heart-felt apology. You need not go into detail - she may have already figured out on her own that it was your browsing history that she was blamed for - but you do need to apologize for your terrible lapse in judgment, even if it is to simply say that you realize it was not her browsing history, and that you are sorry that she got blamed for it. Since you are her Mother, I will leave it up to you as to whether or not to make up for the loss of privileges she has suffered - such a gesture would be nice, but often times a guilty conscience can make one go overboard when making reparations.

-- Tazi-Kat

Friday, November 4, 2011

There Are Some Problems That Only A Cat Can Solve!

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I have a problem with my cat, so I thought I would write to you – a cat yourself – for advice on how to solve it. Just like me, my “Esmeralda”, a long-haired Persian, has a passion for fleece microfiber blankets. I keep one on my bed, on my sofa, in my favorite reclining chair, in addition to the spare fleece microfiber blankets I keep in the closet. It does not matter where I have them placed in the house (or in the closet), Esmeralda will curl up on them and go to sleep. I love that she finds them so comfortable - I want nothing but the best for her - but this leads to the problem of cat hair all over my blankets. I brush her daily, but it seems that her fur sticks to the fleece like a magnet.

I used to just wash the blankets; but recently had to pay a fortune to repair my washer and dryer, which had both been damaged due to the build-up of Esmeralda’s fur. I have tried purchasing acrylic and cotton blankets; but she hates those, and I can see why! They just aren't as soft and cozy as fleece microfiber. Tazi-Kat, do you have any advice on how to solve this problem to my satisfaction – and Esmeralda’s?

Esmeralda’s Mommie

Dear Esmeralda’s Mommie:

How wonderful of you to spoil your precious kitty-cat with soft fuzzy blankies! People like you make me purr! I can understand why your Esmeralda prefers the softness of fleece microfiber over the scratchiness of acrylic, and I can also understand why she would want to lay claim to such luxury; especially since - from her point-of-view - they are left laying all over the house in kitty-friendly areas. In her defense, she probably thinks you have placed the blankets just for her, in order to prevent pet-stains on the furniture.

A way to solve this problem would be to purchase a few fleece microfiber blankets specifically for Esmeralda’s use. Place the blankets in her favorite napping spots – under a low table, on top of the refrigerator, in the sunny spot on your bed, or wherever it is she feels safe curling up to take a nap. Once placed, you can sprinkle the blankets with a generous dose of catnip to attract her to them and she will soon make the connection that these blankets are her blankets.

Should you continue to catch her napping on your blankets, gently remove her and place her onto one of her nearby blankets and she will eventually get the message that the new blankets are not an addition to the blanket collection you have been sharing, but the blankets that she is to use from this point forward. If she still does not get the message, you can try this gentle, non-toxic cat repellant: spray your blankets with lavendar-scented Febreeze or wash them in lavender scented detergent. Lavender is a scent that many humans find relaxing, but one that we cats find repulsive.


P.S. I hope you do not have to resort to the lavender solution! Miss Esmeralda will probably not want to cuddle with you if you are wrapped in a lavender scented blanket!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chris Farley Imitation Leads to "Matt Foley-Like" Results

Dear Tazi-Kat:

As I write this, I am torn between anger and laughter. My 15-year-old son “Josh” is on the small side – short and slim. His best friend “Charles”, who is also 15, could politely be described as “husky”; although seriously obese would be a better way of putting it. Recently, the two of them discovered my husband’s old Saturday Night Live alum DVDs – a collection of movies starring Chris Farley, Dana Carvey, Adam Sandler and other comedians from when he was about my son’s age.

Last week, after watching Tommy Boy, Charles thought it would be funny to re-enact the “fat guy in a little coat” scene. With my husband taping it on his iPhone, Charles put on Josh’s Sunday sport coat and started dancing around, singing “fat guy in a little coat”, much to my son’s amusement, until things mirrored the events in the movie with my son’s sport coat tearing in half along the back seams. The sport coat is completely ruined, and will have to be replaced.

As humorous as the video is, and it is obvious that no malice was meant, the fact remains that my son’s sport coat is ruined and must be replaced. Charles has repeatedly apologized for ruining the coat, but has not offered to pay for a replacement. At 15, I do not think it has occurred to him that this would be the appropriate course of action, nor do I think he would have the money to pay for it out of his own pocket. I would like to approach Charles’ mother about paying for a new sport coat for Josh, but she is a single mother on a tight budget and I am not certain she could afford the expense. However, not asking her on the basis of her obvious financial distress seems insulting, and I know if I were in her place I would at least want to offer something towards a replacement sport coat.

My husband says that the destruction of the sport coat was an accident, that it happened in good fun, and that no harm was intended. He insists that I should just let it go as a case of boys being boys, and that we can easily afford to replace the sport coat. I agree with all that he is saying, but I feel that this course of action would teach the boys that bad behavior has no consequences. What do you suggest, Tazi-Kat? Should I follow my instincts and approach Charles’ mother or those of my husband and just leave things as they are?


Dear Bemused:

I, too, had to laugh at the memory of the late, “husky” Chris Farley wearing the slender David Spade’s sport coat; so I can see how your son, his friend, and your husband would all see this movie scene worthy of both a reenactment and a taping for posterity. The fact that your son’s sport coat ended up being collateral damage is unfortunate, but can also be chalked up to a case of “boys being boys” (and I am including your husband in with the “boys” on this one!). However, I also have to agree with you that bad behavior – even if it was unintended – must have consequences, lest you give your son and his friend the impression that destruction of property will be tolerated.

Considering that leaf-raking season is here, I will suggest a compromise; one that will teach all of the “boys” involved an important lesson. Rather than approach Charles’ mother – who had no part in these shenanigans – about paying to replace your son’s sport coat, speak to her about Charles repaying his share of the cost in “work equity”. Inform your son and Charles (with his mother’s O.K.) that they will be covering the cost of replacing the sport coat by raking the leaves in your yard over the course of one weekend. I strongly suggest that your husband lead by example and include himself in this activity, since he also played a part in the loss of your son's sport coat.

This activity will serve many purposes: It will allow you to use the money you would otherwise pay a landscaper to replace your son’s sport coat; it will teach these young men (and your husband) to be more careful the next time they are horsing around; it will provide an opportunity for the three of them to bond; and it will instill a sense of team-work and responsibility in all of them. It is also a fair way to spread the cost of replacing the sport coat evenly among those responsible for its destruction.


P.S. The holidays are approaching, and I can only hope that their next reenactment selection will not be Chris Farley as "Matt Foley, Motivational Santa" or anything from the movie Jingle All The Way, in which the late SNL alum Phil Hartman had a supporting role!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

College Student Returns Home To Discover House Rules Still Apply

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am 18 years old, and a freshman in college. I live on campus, and am able to pretty much live my life the way I want. I do not act irresponsibly, I have been getting good grades, and overall I feel I have adjusted well to living life as an independent adult. Thanksgiving is coming up, and I will be returning home for the first time to visit with my family and see all of my friends again. I was looking forward to this trip, until last night. My parents called me to give me a "heads up" as to what is expected of me when I return home for the long Thanksgiving weekend. I can agree to all of their requests except for one: I am to obey a curfew!

Living in a dormitory, I have been able to come and go as I please and stay out as late as I please. On nights that I do stay out to all hours with my friends, we are usually just hanging out and enjoying ourselves. I think I have proven that I can stay out of trouble and that a curfew is unnecessary; but my parents will not budge. Since I go to school out of state, I do not get to see my friends from high school very often, and I do not want my time with them to be truncated by some stupid curfew.

I would like to be able to come and go as I please in my own home, as I am when I am at school; but my parents have said that if I want to treat their house like a hotel than I can go stay in a hotel - and pay for it myself. A decent hotel room will cost me around $100 a night, leaving me with no money left over to go out places. Plus, I honestly believe my friends will all see my hotel room as a place to party and I do not want that! Inevitably, damage would occur and I would be responsible for paying it.

Tazi-Kat, since when did my home become "their house"? And furthermore, how do I convince by parents they are being unreasonable?

Miss Independent

Dear Miss Independent:

It sounds to me like a more appropriate moniker would be Miss Behavin'. As independent as you may think you are, the fact remains that you are still dependant upon your parents for many things - starting with a place to stay when you return to your hometown.

To answer your first question, "your home" has always been your "parent's house" - you just never realized it before now. It is your parents who pay the mortgage, the taxes, and the upkeep and repairs on the place; that makes it their house, and therefore gives them the right to lay down the rules they seek to be obeyed.

For just a minute, I will suspend the reality that they are your parents and worry about you when you are out until all hours of the night (and therefore are probably not sleeping anyway), and look at this issue as a matter of basic courtesy: Arriving home in the middle of the night disturbs the quiet and thus disturbs the sleep of other members of the house. If you were a house-guest of someone, would you behave this way? If so, I must say, you would make a very poor guest and would probably not be invited back.

The fact that you have thought through the idea of renting a hotel room - and realize that your friends will probably see it as party central - shows very mature thinking on your part. An independent adult (as you feel you have adjusted well to being) would have the courage to stand up to her friends and tell them that her hotel room is off-limits to wild parties.

As for the cost of a "decent hotel room", perhaps you will have to settle for a merely adequate hotel room (think a no-frills place like Motel 6 or Super 8) in order to have cash left over to socialize with your friends. Or, you could decide to swallow your pride and agree to live by your parents rules. Thus are the options that face an independent adult in this situation.


P.S. You do not say what your curfew would be; but perhaps if you show your letter to your parents, and discuss the situation with them, they may be willing to extend your curfew by an hour or so, until midnight or 1:00 AM.