Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year's Eve Proposal...

Dear Tazi-Kat:

My girlfriend loves your column! She reads it every day without fail, so I am hoping you will publish my letter! If you do, could you print it on New Year's Eve? Here is what I have to say:

Jillian, I love you!
Will you marry me?

Always and forever until the day I die,


Dear Jeremy:

I am a sucker for romance; and I am hoping Jillian is, too. Here is your letter; on New Year's Eve, as requested. Considering that you did not use last (or even middle) names, I hope that there is not another "Jillian and Jeremy" out there who use the same term of endearment as you - otherwise, things could get a little sticky for them!


Friday, December 30, 2011

Liar Puts Self In A Gift-Giving Bind

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I know you are going to think I am a selfish beast, but hear me out first, okay? Every Christmas, without fail, my sister and her husband outspend me on gifts for our mother - and not just by a little; they spend roughly twice what I spend, sometimes more. Plus, their gifts are always incredibly thoughtful while also being practical. For example, last year they got my mother a 1 year gift-subscription to Netflix and a Blu-Ray player with Wi-Fi because she enjoys movies but doesn't always have the time or money to see them while they are in theaters; I bought Mom a new toaster oven because she had mentioned she needed one, and I felt like an idiot because my sister's gift was so much cooler – and more expensive.

This year, money was a bit tight for me because I will be taking an 11-day trip to the Caribbean in January. It is expensive, but it is a singles' cruise and I am hoping to meet someone. I am considering the expense an investment in my future. For Christmas this year, I bought Mother a Yankee Candle - one of the big jar candles, because I know she likes candles, and Yankee candles are expensive compared to other brands. I figured that since the economy has been bad and my brother-in-law's business has been slow, my sister and husband would not be spending as much on gifts this year, but I was wrong. They bought Mom a new Lane reclining chaise lounge for the living room to replace her old, worn-out and stained one. Granted, it was a floor-sample that they got for 50%-off, but it matches my mother's decor perfectly; and of course, Mom loves it. Embarrassed, I lied and told my mother that the rest of her gift was part of the Christmas week Best Buy back-order cancellation that made the news last week, and that it would be coming in after the holidays; that the gift I was giving her today (I am writing this Christmas night) was just so she would have something to open.

My problem is I have no idea what to get my Mom that will top my sister's gift! The money I have saved is set aside for entertainment when I go on my cruise next month; but if I don't come through with something amazing, everyone will know that I lied. From reading your column, I know how you feel about lying, but I am hoping you will help me anyway! Do you have any gift ideas that will not break my budget? Something that would be reasonable to believe was back-ordered? Oh, and can you please bump my letter to the top of your letters list? I really need a quick answer!

Up A Tree

P.S. I have asked my sister to spend less on Mom's gift, but she just looked at me and pointed out that we have similar household incomes and she has to buy for her in-laws, as well. Left unsaid was the fact that she thinks I am cheap! Grrrrr!!!!!

Dear Up A Tree:

Have you considered the fact that maybe you are being cheap with your Mother? Think about it: you are about to lay out approximately $3000 on a cruise for yourself, and you spent less than 1% of that amount on the woman who birthed and raised you. Where I come from, there is NOTHING that is too good for a Mommie! The time has come to put your sibling rivalry aside and put your Mama first! I am bumping your letter to the top of my queue not in approval of your request, but because I am thinking of your Mama and the disappointment she will feel if she discovers your lie. You had better hope that she is not reading this letter, because I did not change a single detail to protect your identity!

Since you seem adamant about not cutting into your cruise entertainment money, and you told your Mom a very specific lie about her back-ordered gift, my regular ideas for gifts (year-round lawn care services, car tune-up, theater tickets, etc.) will not work. I suggest that you start trolling Best Buy for a sweet deal on a 42-inch or larger HDTV (as these made up the bulk of the back-ordered items) so your Mama can enjoy a movie theatre-like experience with her Netflix subscription. I would also suggest you pay for it with the money you were planning on spending on alcohol and other entertainments during next month's cruise; but if you cannot bring yourself to suck it up, Best Buy offers reasonable financing plans - something I also frown upon; but in for a penny in for a pound, I suppose.

-- Tazi-Kat

P.S. No snuggles for you!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Little Person Not Defined By His Height; Just His Big Attitude Problem

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am a “little person” – an adult of very short stature due to a form of dwarfism. Although I am short, I do not allow this feature to hold me back in life. I date women of average height, attend college, drive a sports car, play tennis, and pretty much enjoy life the way an average height person would. I know you are probably wondering why I am writing to you if my life sounds so perfect, huh? Well, there is one fly in my ointment, and that is how other little people treat me. I am disrespected among my own people for “acting tall”.

Many little people have self-esteem issues due to their height; or health problems, due to the genetics that caused their dwarfism, that leave them unable to live a life as full as mine. I have dealt with my share of problems in life – when you are in the fifth grade and are the shortest kid in your elementary school, believe me you are going to get picked on by the other kids – but my parents raised me to overcome such taunts, telling me if I let their teasing get to me than I was giving the teasers exactly what they wanted.

I realize that I can come off as an insensitive [censored], and at times I probably have been insensitive to other little people who do not have my sense of worth and drive to push past the negative, but I can’t change who I am to please other people. Things really came to a head for me last month, at a Little People of America regional convention. I won’t give you all the gory details, but suffice to say that I was at the bar and got dumped on for turning down a female attendee’s advances because I have a girlfriend (who is not an L.P., something that came out during her request to know why I was turning her down, which caused others to voice opinions on my personal life). After this, a part of me wants to walk away from this organization altogether – I mean, who needs this, right? – but then another part of me admits that I do need the LPA organization, as it is an advocacy group in addition to its social factors. I guess I would just like some advice on how to reconcile the fact that I am not like so many other little people without turning my back on the entire community.


Walking Tall At 4-Foot-4

Dear Walking Tall…:

Paws up! I admire your attitude – to an extent. As a four-legged animal I am often the lowest one to the ground, looking up at the world around me. I, too, do not allow my smallness to determine my place in the world; and spend a great deal of time sitting atop my Tower of Power (my profile pic actually shows me sitting in it) surveying my realm. Unlike you, I am a cat and can get away with this sort of behavior. Cats are expected to be smug; humans are not, which is probably the reason why you were attacked en masse at the bar.

Your lack of “gory details” leaves a lot out of the tale you tell, but I can see why your fellow little people would be upset that you turned down the advances of a little person because you are dating a woman who is of average height. My Mommie is quite close to a few LP’s, so I had her run your letter by one of them for an opinion. He replied, “What he did to the woman at the regional was the approximate equivalent of what women have undoubtedly done to him when he goes to bars with his AP [average height person] friends and the women would talk to his friend and treat him like furniture.”

Nobody likes to be turned down for a date, but when a physical characteristic causes you great self-consciousness and low self-esteem; and the person turning you down is dating (or will only date) someone who does not possess that particular physical trait, it is easy to lash out and accuse the object of your desire of prejudice. This does not mean that prejudice exists; and this is the point you need to make when such personal attacks on your character are made. However, you also need to be aware of how you respond and to treat others equally, regardless of who they are, lest accusations of prejudice hold merit.

You do not say how old you are, but you mention that you go to college, drive a sports car, and play tennis so I am guessing you are under the age of 30; possibly even under the age of 25. Your twenties are a time when people are still finding themselves – who they are, who they want to be, and how they are going to get there. Add a physical challenge or multiple physical challenges to the mix, and achieving these goals can be made all the more difficult. The good news is that there is a light at the end of this tunnel; it just takes some people longer than others to get there.

I realize that Little People of America is a social organization as well as an advocacy organization, which means it has members of all ages and accomplishments. Rather than write off the entire Little People community, perhaps you could speak with a member who is older than you are, with more life experience than you possess. Is there anyone you can look to as a mentor or trusted advisor? Someone who can help guide you through the rocky waters to a calm shore? If so, I suggest you turn to them and discuss your concerns; if you do not, you may want to speak with your membership coordinator or other officer in your regional chapter. Regardless of stature, one does not get to the top of a large organization or earn the admiration and respect of others without possessing a strong sense of self and the ability to “walk tall” among the masses. You need to find out what they are doing to charm the masses, and take a lesson from what they tell you.

I will end my response with some sound advice from my Mommie’s contact. He writes: “Not all of this guy's life will go as swimmingly as it is now...there is a whole world of difference between asking an AP woman to date an LP and asking an AP woman to marry an LP - because then you get into genetic issues, long-term health concerns, etc. LPA can be a valuable asset in those times.” So there you have it!

-- Tazi-Kat

In order to respect his privacy, the name of my Mommie's contact has not been revealed, but I wish to offer my gracious thanks for his assistance in responding to today's letter! His help has been invaluable! --TK

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tolerant Man's Good Life Is Turning Into An Intolerable Soap Opera

Dear Tazi-Kat:

My problem is pretty confusing, so I will try to tell things as straight as possible. I have been with my girlfriend, "Melanie", for almost two years, and things are great except for her insecurity. She is convinced that I am going to cheat on her like other men have. I know that she goes through my stuff (cell phone records, wallet, etc.) looking for proof that I have a woman on the side, which I don't. I love her, and do everything I can to convince her. In fact, I have started leaving love notes for her in my wallet to reassure her that she is the woman for me. She is trying to break herself of the habit, and her insecurity is an issue we are actively working on together. Melanie was picked on a lot in school, and even though we are both older now (mid-twenties) her self-esteem is still fragile.

I have been best friends with my buddy "Mike" since we were kids. About six months ago, Mike started dating one of the "mean girls" who used to pick on Melanie in middle school. "Sandra" went to a different high school than Melanie, and they have not seen each other since the 8th grade. When she saw her again for the first time in years, Sandra apologized to Melanie (in front of Mike and me) for the bad way she treated her; but Melanie refused to accept her apology because she didn't think it was sincere - she thought Sandra was just trying to impress Mike, which I kinda think, too, considering that Sandra's apology was quite detailed, and brought up some pretty humiliating memories for Melanie (i.e. "I'm sorry I shoved your head in a toilet and flushed..."). After this incident, Sandra refused to even be in the same room as Melanie; so any hopes of the four of us hanging out ended.

On Thanksgiving night, I invited Mike over after Sandra had gone home; and he stopped by for a few beers and to watch the football game. Since Melanie and I live together, she was there too. Sandra saw Mike's Facebook status that night, which said he was at my place, and flipped out on him; saying she did not want him hanging with Melanie. She gave him an ultimatum; saying he could be with her or with me but not both of us, so long as Melanie was in the picture. When Mike refused to choose, Sandra left him.

I felt bad, since Mike really liked Sandra, and took him out drinking to help with the heartbreak. The bar where we were had a mechanical bull, and I wanted to try my luck on it. I asked Mike to hold my wallet while I rode, and I did fairly well even if I didn't last the whole 8 seconds. What I didn't know was that Mike used this opportunity to slip some condoms into my wallet, figuring Melanie would find them; be convinced that I was cheating; and kick me out, which would solve the problem of having to choose between me and Sandra. He was heartbroken and very drunk, and has apologized for what he did so I am not angry with him; but he did put me in a bad spot. I know this letter is already long, but here comes the part where I ask for advice:

Melanie did find the condoms in my wallet, and as Mike expected, she freaked out accusing me of sneaking out on her. I pointed out that I KNOW she looks through my wallet; so if I was cheating, my wallet would be the last place I would try to hide condoms. At the time, I did not know how they got there; so I told her that Mike probably put them there as some kind of a sick joke. Melanie believed me, agreeing with my logic, and things are somewhat okay on that front, but she is wondering why Mike would "play such a cruel joke" on her. I did not have the heart to tell her the truth.

My problem is, Mike is still heartbroken over Sandra leaving him and is taking his mood out on Melanie, telling me that if she had just accepted Sandra's apology all this would never have happened. Melanie can tell that Mike has been cold towards her, but she can't figure out why. If I tell her the truth, she will be able to figure out that Mike actually tried to break us up (by putting condoms in my wallet) and then I will have to choose between my best friend and the woman I hope to someday marry. I'd like to wait and see if Mike's mood blows over, but I am not sure how long that will take; and Christmas is coming. I'd like everything to be back to normal for the big day, since Mike usually comes over to celebrate with Melanie, me, and my family - partially because I want things to be normal between us; and partially because I don't feel like explaining the whole soap opera to my family, who live for this kind of drama.

So, any advice to offer me, Tazi-Kat?

Choosing Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Dear Choosing...:

Your situation sounds like the plot of a romantic comedy, except that I am sure you are not finding it very funny. You seem like an emotionally generous man, considering how you have handled Melanie's insecurity and her invasiveness of your privacy; as well as your forgiveness of Mike's cruel indiscretion.

If Melanie is as insecure as you say, telling her the real reason for Mike's coolness towards her would be a very bad move, indeed; therefore, I think your first step should be to talk to Mike. Tell him that you understand that he is hurting, but that he needs to understand Melanie's position, too: that Sandra put her through hell during their youth, and her non-apologetic apology only brought back the pain. You may also want to mention that as unfair as Sandra's ultimatum was to him, he is putting you in the same situation of having to choose between your best friend and the woman you love. If Mike is as good a friend as a best friend should be, he will work on his attitude towards Melanie.

Time has a way of healing all wounds - and of wounding all heels. If Sandra truly cares for Mike as much as he seems to care for her, sooner or later she will be open to listening to what other people have to say; and maybe by then she will be able to see past her own viewpoint. Those who make ultimatums usually don't expect to lose. This blow to Sandra's ego may be just what was needed to bring her down off of her high horse.

If for some reason some sort of tolerable relations have not been re-established between Mike and Melanie by Christmas day, just explain to your family that Mike recently went through a difficult break-up, and in his grief he cannot be trusted to be polite to others - then ask someone to please pass the potatoes.

-- Tazi-Kat

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Special Letter For "Jamal" (And Foster Children Everywhere!)

Dear Readers:

Earlier this week I published a letter from a young boy in foster care who called himself "Jamal" (the quotes were his, not mine, so I am not sure if this was his real name or not). Jamal wanted the family court judge who was to hear his adoption case to know just how much he wanted his foster family to be his forever family, so he asked me to print his letter in my column because "whatever people put on the Internet is there forever for everyone to see".

One of my readers sent in a special message of support and encouragement for Jamal, and I found it so touching that I pushed it to the top of my letters queue. Jamal, the rest of this column is for you! (The rest of you can read along, too, though!).

-- Tazi-Kat

Dear Jamal,

I am a friend of Tazi Kat through his Mommy. I read your letter today and was very touched. I too once wished for a forever home while I was living in Foster Care in Rhode Island. It sounds to me like you have a very good foster family that loves you very much. I just wanted to pass my words of encouragement on to you as I too had to go in front of the judge to make it happen for me too!

My forever home came to be back in the 1970’s, as I said, after going in front of the judge. The judge was very nice to me and my little brother. He took us into his chambers, (that is a fancy word for his office that is just off the courtroom.) While we were in there, he was really nice to us, he even gave us each a piece of gum!! In his chambers, he asked me and my little brother where we wanted to live. (I was your age when this happened too!!)  The judge will look at everything that is best for you. That is what his job is…. To make a decision as to what is best for you, and make sure that it happens.

Being afraid and scared is normal, however, we, even at your young age of 8, are never handed anything that we cannot handle. My advice to you, though Tazi would not offer any as you did not ask for it, is walk into that courtroom as tall as you can, keep your shoulders back, look the judge right in the eyes and tell him how you feel about where you are living. Be polite, always be polite. I would even give the judge a couple of examples of why you think this should be your forever home.
Jamal and your foster, hopefully soon to be forever home, my prayers will be with you through the coming months.

A friend through the system

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Foster Child Asks Judge For A Forever Family

Dear Tazi-Kat:

My name is Jamal, and I am 8 years old. I live in foster care, because my real Mom and Dad could not take good care of me. I have been with the family I live with now since I was 6. They have a Mom and a Dad, and brothers and sisters and a PUPPY! I am really happy living here, and would like to stay FOREVER. I asked my foster Mom and Dad if I could, and they told me that they would like that but it is up to the judge to decide what is best for me. I think living where I am now is what is best for me, and I want to tell him that but I am afraid it would hurt my real Mom's feelings. I don't want to do that, but I don't want to go back to live with her, either. I want to stay where I am, and maybe she could visit with me like she used to sometimes, before she stopped coming to visit me.

I am going to ask Santa Claus if he can make my foster home my real home, because Santa can do anything! My foster Mom is helping me write to him, and I wanted to write this letter to you too, so we can print it out and show the judge when we go to Family Court in January. My foster Dad says that whatever people put on the Internet is there forever for everyone to see so we have to be careful what we write, but I want everyone to know that I want my foster family to be my forever family! Will you print my letter on your website so everyone in the whole world will know forever and ever?


Dear Jamal:

Because you asked me so nicely, I am printing your letter in my advice column (even though you weren't really asking for any advice!).

You sound like a very kind and sensitive boy; wanting to make sure that your first Mommy can still come to visit you when she would like, if the judge says your foster home can be your forever home. You also sound very happy in your foster home, and it sounds like your foster Mom and Dad love you very much and take good care of you. I am pretty certain that the judge will think about all these things when he decides if making your foster home your forever home is the right decision to make.

Since you did not ask me for advice, I will not give you any. I will just say that I hope everything goes well for you and your foster parents next month! I also wish you lots of joy, and a Merry Christmas with the people you love (sigh...even if one of them IS a PUPPY!).


P.S.: Your foster Dad is right that whatever we put on the Internet lasts forever, so always be careful what you publish on it!