Thursday, January 31, 2013

Teenage Girl Hopes To Ensnare Boyfriend With An "Accidental" Pregnancy

Dear Tazi:

I am a junior in high school and my boyfriend is a senior. We have been dating for almost a year and I love him very, very much. He will graduate in June, and is planning on going to college. His first choice is Notre Dame, and judging from his grades, activities, and recommendations it looks like he is going to get in. We live on the West Coast, so Notre Dame is a few thousand miles away. “Bobby” has said that we could remain a couple and have a long-distance relationship for a year, and then I can either join him at another school in Indiana (I don’t have the grades for Notre Dame) or that we can continue to try working things out long-distance. I don’t like the sound of this, and neither do any of my friends. They all think that Bobby will probably break up with me or cheat on me after he moves away.

I am thinking of “accidentally” getting pregnant so Bobby won’t leave. If he and I have a baby, I just know that he will stick around, and maybe even ask me to marry him after we are both done with school. I haven’t told anyone about my plan, because I am afraid that someone might tell Bobby that my pregnancy wasn’t so accidental and he will be angry with me. I have gone over every angle of my plan, and cannot find any flaws in it, except that Bobby and I have not had sex yet because I wanted to wait until we were together for at least a year and that anniversary will soon be here. I cannot imagine he will say no when I offer him my virginity.

My one concern with my plan will be how to juggle my senior year of high school and a newborn baby. School is tough enough as it is without having to take care of a baby on top of it, but if I don’t go through with my plan I might lose Bobby altogether. I thought of waiting until the summer to get pregnant, so I won’t deliver until the end of the school year, but by that point Bobby will have committed to going to Notre Dame and would be out a large deposit that could otherwise go towards expenses for the baby. I guess it is like they say, there is no perfect time to have a baby. When do you think I should plan my pregnancy for, Tazi?


Hopefully Expecting Soon

Dear Hopefully Expecting Soon:

I think the best time for you to get pregnant will be after you have finished high school, landed a job that pays well enough to support yourself and a baby, and can be honest with your boyfriend about your intentions. Until then, no…just no. You may think that you have looked ahead by attempting to plan when to get pregnant, but you have not looked ahead long enough; try looking 18 – 22 years into the future, because this is how long it will take for you to raise a properly educated, morally responsible, contributing member of society. Are you willing to try and go to school and raise a child - quite possibly on your own - during this time? If not, are you willing to put college or vocational training on hold for that long? Is Bobby?

Your decision to wait to have sex has been a mature one, up until now. You fear that your boyfriend may leave you over the stress of carrying on a long-distance relationship is a valid one, and I am sure that he has the same fear – that you will leave him for another guy. Having his baby may ensure that he stays with you on the West coast – and gives up his dream of attending the University of Notre Dame and the bright future that goes along with it – however, nothing in life is guaranteed.

When you are ready to enter into a sexual relationship, you should also be ready to embrace any consequences that may result from it. I do not only mean pregnancy and STD’s, but the oft overlooked emotional changes that occur. These changes are different for everyone, and can run the gamut from clinginess to regret. You already strike me as clingy to a fault with your plan to deceive your boyfriend; will you lie to him and tell him you are on birth control if he suggests that he uses a condom? Take a pin to his stash if he insists on using one anyway?

Sometimes, we need to ask ourselves,
"What would Touchdown Jesus do?"

I suggest that rather than talking to your friends you talk to your boyfriend, and tell him plainly that you fear losing him if your relationship goes long distance. Some couples are able to survive the stress of a long-distance romance; these people generally have a few major traits in common: they have lives independent of their partners, and they trust their partners not to cheat. Many couples are unable to handle a long-distance relationship because they drift apart when their partner is not a part of their day to day life.

You and Bobby are both very young, and have a lot of growing up and exploring to do before you settle down and have children. You do not know what the future holds, or even if you will be spending it together. Please rethink your plan to become a single, teenage mother. Any guidance counselor can tell you that being 16 and Pregnant is not as cool as it looks on TV; I suggest that you talk with yours ASAP.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tea-Drinker Is In The Coffeehouse With Best Friend

Dear Tazi:

My best friend has decided to follow her lifelong dream and open her own coffeehouse. She is always telling me to come down and relax with a cup of coffee and to enjoy the “open mic” nights and poetry readings she hosts, but the problem is that I am not a coffee drinker; her open mic nights are like the worst of American Idol tryouts; and the poetry people recite is just plain bad.

I try to be a good friend and stop by once every week or so to see how things are going, but “Suzie” wants me to stop in more often, saying that running a business takes all of her time and that my visits are often the only time she gets to see me – or any of our friends. If stopping by meant actually getting to visit with her I would be fine with it, but she is always too bust to even sit and have a cup of something with me. Worst of all, I am expected to pay for the coffee I buy, which is not cheap because Suzie is always pushing me to try some expensive blend of coffee. Her coffees start at over $20 a pound, and quite honestly I think they taste awful!

Obviously, I cannot be honest with Suzie about why I don’t get by to visit more often, and I would like to curtail my visits even more. How do you think I should handle the situation?

Tea Drinker

Dear Tea Drinker:

Why can’t you be honest with Suzie about why you no longer wish to visit her at her coffeehouse? You don’t have to give her the unvarnished truth (that her products and her entertainment are just plain awful and/or overpriced, at least in your mind), but a polite version of your feelings would not be out of line.

The next time Suzie invites you to stop by and visit her during working hours, explain to her that you would love to visit with her when she has time and that while she is at the store you feel like you are taking her away from the responsibility of running it. You could even further with the thought that during business hours, her attention needs to belong to her customers, not to you.

Since Suzie is your best friend, she should already know that you do not like coffee, but it could be that she is trying to turn you into a coffee drinker by introducing you to exotic and/or gourmet roasts. To someone who does not drink coffee, these roasts will all taste the same – bitter, burnt, or otherwise unappetizing. Most coffeehouses also offer other hot beverages, such as tea. Would you be willing to support Suzie’s endeavors by stopping in to buy a tea every once in a while?

Being the new place in town, I am not surprised that Suzie’s open mic nights are attracting a wide and varied crowd. Open mic nights and poetry readings can be quite competitive, with time slots for performing in crowded places a premium score. Once word gets out that the new coffeehouse has spots to fill, more talented players are sure to take notice and join in the festivities. Why don’t you tell this to any musicians and poets you may know? I am sure they will appreciate the tip!

Opening your own business can be a stressful endeavor, so try to support Suzie as she makes the transition from being someone who used to hang out in coffeehouses to someone who now owns one. I am not saying that you must learn to appreciate coffee, but I am suggesting that you keep the full extent of your honest opinion to yourself. It is better to be in the coffeehouse with your best friend than in the doghouse with her!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Snake Owner Owns Much More Than He Bargained For

Dear Tazi:

I am 17, and plan on moving into my own place as soon as I turn 18. My Mom has a ton of rules that I don’t like living by, from how I have to eat to how I keep my room. I have been working since I was 15 and have saved a lot of money, have a friend who has agreed to be my roommate, and have my plans all worked out so there is no need for you to lecture (or "advise") me on whether or not I am ready to move out and what to expect. That isn't my problem

My problem is that I want a pet snake, and my mother said no, as expected. A friend’s older brother had to get rid of his snake when he moved in with his girlfriend. Since I am going to be 18 in less than a year I offered to take the snake when I moved, which he said was fine. Since that agreement, his girlfriend decided it was not fine, since the snake – a red-tailed boa – gives her the creeps. I had no choice but to take the snake or risk not getting it at all, so I took it and have been hiding its tank in my bedroom closet – my Mom never goes in there; one of her rules is that I put my own clothes away (a sub-rule of keeping my room clean).

My closet isn't all that big, and I had no idea how fast or how big this snake was going to grow. I am going to need a bigger tank for it, but that won’t fit in my closet. I am thinking of hiding it in my garage with a heat lamp to keep it warm, but my friends tell me that won’t work – the snake will still be cold; one friend said it might start a fire that way (his Dad is a firefighter). I don’t want to tell my Mom about the snake because she will make me get rid of it. Do you know of any place I might hide it from her until September?

Snake Lover

Dear Snake Lover:

Like Indiana Jones, I hate snakes, so you will not get much sympathy from me. 

The snake, however, is a living creature so he has my sympathy. Snakes are poikilothermic - that’s the big, fancy scientific word that means their body temperature is not constant, and fluctuates with their surroundings. The common term, “cold blooded” is a misnomer; when kept in too hot of an environment, poikilothermic creatures can die from overheating. That is your first lesson in owning an exotic animal! Your second lesson will be in responsibility. 

Since you are surprised at how large and fast your snake is growing, you must have taken it in while it was still a baby – a hatchling, as they are properly called, and only a foot or two in length. By the end of one year that snake will be 5 or 6 feet long; by the end of two years even longer – and much wider. You are going to need a very large apartment that will hold a very large tank. In the meantime, there will be no hiding this creature from your mother. 

According to, a website dedicated to the care of amphibians and reptiles as pets, when it comes to owning a boa constrictor (which is what the red-tailed boa is), you need to ask yourself: “Do you really want a snake that will get to be 10 feet long, weigh over 50 pounds, urinate and defecate like a St. Bernard, should live more than 30 years and for whom you will have to kill mice, rats and, eventually, small rabbits?

That will be one large poop!

Did you not realize that your snake would get this large when you adopted it? Can you now see why your mother would not like having a boa constrictor living in her house? If, at this point, you are having second thoughts about owning such a snake, it is time for you to own up to your behavior and tell your mother what you have done so she can work with you in finding a new home for this snake or a shelter that will attempt to find an adoptive owner for it. (Since you are under 18, you cannot enter into a binding legal contract, and will need your mother's help here).

If you are committed to being a responsible snake owner, you will still have to inform your mother that you have a boa constrictor in your closet. Seriously, this is not the type of creature that you can easily hide, and things could end badly for the snake if your mother accidentally discovers it out of its cage and calls animal control!

If you have a heated basement, you should be able to keep the snake in a large tank in the basement, away from your mother, without injury to the animal until you move out of her house – this would only work if your mother was in agreement with this plan. If your mother is dead-set against having the snake in her house, you will have to look for a very understanding friend or a professional shelter that would board the animal for you until September. Whatever you do, do not release the animal into the wild. Not only is this illegal, it disrupts the ecosystem and could very well mean death by starvation or disease for the snake, which was born in captivity.

I realize that you do not like living by your mother’s rules, but as long as you live in her house you will have to do as she demands. Even if you get your own apartment, there will be rules to follow – specifically, those put down by your landlord, so make sure that any lease you sign is to your agreement and that it allows for you to keep a large snake as a pet. Did I mention that red-tailed boas can grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh up to 50 pounds? Be sure that you mention this to a prospective landlord, lest you break the terms of your lease and get evicted.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tazi's Corner #29 - Test Taking Tips To Conquer Anxiety

Dear Readers:

Welcome to another edition of Tazi's Corner, which is my opportunity to talk about what is on my mind! Last week, I offered success tips for returning students (which really could work for all students); this week, I continue where I left off by offering you Test Taking Tips To Conquer Anxiety!

You can know all of the answers, but if you freeze up during testing you will be unable to prove your knowledge! Test taking can cause anxiety in even the coolest cucumbers out there, so if you do freeze up over tests, don't feel alone, and don't feel like there is nothing you can do to control it!

With the exception of Math and math based classes like Physics, Engineering, and Chemistry (which I will cover last) there are three basic types of test questions. Remember, professors often have 100+ exams to correct, so they will usually give tests using the Scantron correcting system. To follow is a breakdown of each type of test you will most likely encounter using this system, and tips for conquering each!

The True or False Question
The good news is, you have a 50-50 chance of getting these questions right! The bad news is, the questions are often written in a way that makes you second guess yourself. Studies have shown that absolute statements – which are statements with words like “always” and “never” – are generally false, because a single exception makes the whole statement false. Words that modify a statement – like “most” and “usually” – allow for some wiggle room, but are generally easy to figure if you have studied the material.

The Multiple Choice Question
Also known as multiple guess among nervous students. My Mommie says that most professors she has had prepare multiple choice tests with four choices, two of which are obviously wrong to anyone who has paid even the slightest attention in class, leaving two similar choices from which to choose. At this point, if you don’t know the answer, you have a 50-50 shot of getting it right. Helpful Fact: The most common answer on a multiple choice test is “C” (or “3” if the choices are numerical).

A good way to reduce anxiety when taking a multiple choice test is to do it “Jeopardy!” style; read the answers to the question first, then read the question. When reading the answers, ask yourself what you know about each one, and then look at the question. This method mentally prepares you and has been shown to reduce anxiety and boost test scores.

The Essay Question
Oh, the dreaded essay question! It doesn't have to be a scary event! Essays are graded on many things – content, spelling and grammar, and how closely they stick to the topic at hand. Your teacher does not want the great American novel; just proof that you understand the material being taught.

An essay cannot be corrected through Scantron, so before you start rambling away in your blue book, take time to organize your thoughts because your professor will be reading them! Read the essay question, and think about what you know about the topic. If you have scrap paper, write down a few key ideas and number them in the order that best answers the question. Once your thoughts are organized, writing the essay will be that much easier. Most importantly, don’t try to "b.s." your way through an essay question – contrary to common belief, it will only hurt your grade. Professors can tell that you don’t understand the assignment, usually because you did not do the assigned reading from which the question was drawn.

Math (and math based) Questions

If possible, schedule your math classes at the time of day when your thinking is the clearest. Math requires concentration, and you cannot fully concentrate if you are tired. Math also requires energy to power your brain, so try not to eat a big meal before doing math. Digestion is an energy intensive process, and your body cannot digest a meal and solve quadratic equations at the same time! Just a little something my Mommie learned in her Human Anatomy class!

When it comes to math, story problems and other word problems generally throw a lot of people because they are looking for numbers and operations and not seeing any. The key to solving a story problem is reading comprehension. After reading through the full problem once, go back and read it again, this time pausing at all punctuation - every comma, semicolon, period, etc. - and reviewing up to that point. What information is being given? Are any numbers or operations mentioned? Write them down on your scrap paper! By the time you have finished re-reading the problem, you should have all the elements of the equation in front of you. Now work on solving it. If you are stuck on a math problem, skip it and go back to it when you have finished the other questions. Concentrating on it further will only cause further frustration and anxiety, not to mention waste your time; both will result in a lower grade.

In the end, regardless of what kind of test you are taking, if you find you are completely unable to concentrate because you are stuck, try this little exercise: Close your eyes, take a few deep, cleansing breaths, and literally push the test paper away from you. Exhale, open your eyes, and look at the test with a fresh perspective. The additional oxygen to your brain and the pushing away of what is upsetting you can work to refresh your brain. This tip can also work with other types of tests, too!

Good luck students! Next week I will be back to my regularly scheduled rants!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

After Six Months, Mom Is Still Waiting On Wedding Portraits

Dear Tazi:

I am concerned because my son and daughter-in-law have been married for six months now and they have not yet ordered their wedding portraits. I was hoping to receive one as a Christmas gift, so when I did not get one I inquired as to when I might be receiving a copy of their wedding portrait. My son responded that they were still trying to decide on what pictures to order, how many of each, and what sizes.

The pictures are rather expensive, but my husband and I have offered several times to cover the cost as a wedding gift. I am starting to feel as though our gift is not appreciated and am considering saying something to my son, but my husband says to let it go that “the kids” both have very demanding jobs, student loans to pay, and are busy setting up house together (they did not live together before they were married).

I understand that my son and daughter-in-law lead busy lives, but one would think that ordering their wedding portraits would be a priority! My daughter-in-law has already sent me a thank you card, thanking us for the “generous gift of wedding portraits” – and it was most appreciated – but I would really appreciate seeing our gift delivered and displayed, along with an 8x10 or 5x7 for my own home. How much longer should I have to wait, Tazi?


Dear Impatient?:

Although six months is a long time to wait for wedding photos, it is no longer an unheard of wait. Many couples order not only their formal portraits, but an entire wedding album, complete with behind-the-scenes photos of the day (the bride in her dressing room, candid shots of the groom and his groomsmen, etc.). These albums often contain upwards of 100 pictures, and it can take quite a bit of time for a bride and groom to settle on which photos they want to choose.

With regard to a wedding portrait of the bride and groom, most photographers now post the weddings they photographed to their websites. A serial number and a secure password will redirect you to a private page featuring all the photos of the day – from the formal portraits of the bride and groom and their wedding party to casual shots taken throughout the reception. Ordering information is also provided so loved ones and guests can order photos for themselves. You can nudge your son and daughter-in-law into ordering their portraits by viewing the photos yourself and offering your opinion on the ones you like best, and which one you would like to have for yourself. This suggestion may sound a bit too direct, but it appears that direct is the way to go in this matter.

The only other reason for the delay that I can think of is, if you have already given the portrait money to your son and daughter-in-law, it has been spent on other pressing financial matters – such as student loans, rent, or living room furniture. I do not condone the use of such funds, but if this is what has been done you will have to deal with things from there. If you think that this is the case, I suggest that you order your own copy of whatever portraits you desire, and explain to them that you were far too eager to display their portrait to wait for them to get around to ordering.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pre-Teen Crush Has Widowed Dad Worried

Dear Tazi:

My 12-year-old daughter appears to have a crush on my  neighbor's 14-year-old son. The boy does not appear to be doing anything to encourage her crush, but I have not seen him discourage it either. For example, last week he was oiling his bike chain when my daughter caught site of him. She immediately grabbed her bike (which she hasn't ridden in months) and asked him if he could oil her chain, too. He obliged her, but refused her invitation to go on a bike ride. I am not certain if he was just being polite in oiling her chain, or welcoming her advances but then shying away when he remembered how young she is. At 14, he is simply too old for my daughter.

My wife died a few years ago, otherwise I would ask her to have a talk with our daughter about appropriate behavior around boys. I plan on asking one of her aunts to talk to her (she is particularly close to my wife's sister), but in the meantime I am wondering if I should have a talk with my neighbor's son about my daughter's crush and let him know that I do not consider her an appropriate choice of girlfriend for him, due to the age difference between them. Overall, he is a nice boy, but I was a teenage boy once myself and I know how teenage boys think! On the other hand, I know that girls nowadays can be the aggressors when it comes to things like this. Should I talk to the boy? My daughter? Both of them? Or simply keep an eye on the situation and let his parents handle him and my sister-in-law deal with my daughter?

Protective Dad

Dear Protective Dad:

I have yet to meet any other kind of Dad, so I think it is safe to say that it is natural for you to feel protective of your daughter. I am impressed that you are not shoving your head in the sand and ignoring the fact that your daughter may grow into a sexually aggressive teenager, but rather are willing to face the fact that someone is going to have to talk to your daughter about what is expected of her now that she is growing up.

At twelve years old, I doubt your fourteen year old neighbor sees your daughter as anything more than a cute little kid who happens to live next door to him. If he is not inviting her along on a bike ride with him, and is in fact turning down her invitations to join her on a bike ride, I do not think you have to worry about this young man making advances towards your daughter (at least not for another few years, and probably longer. As the "girl next door", he may think of your daughter like he would a little sister).

If I were you, I would not talk to this boy; it will only lead to embarrassment - for him, regardless of his interest in your daughter (romantic or otherwise), and for your daughter, who will probably claim that she is going to "just die" over the fact that her crush now knows she likes him. (Girls can be weird like that - they like a boy, but don't want him to know in case he does not like her, so please spare your daughter such embarrassment).

If you are comfortable doing so, talk to your daughter about her increased interest in the boy next door. Tell her that you have noticed it, and leave it at that. If she wants to talk about him, you can elaborate on your thoughts, explaining that you think he is a fine boy but a little too old for her at this point in her life. If you are not comfortable talking to your daughter on the subject of boys, I suggest you call your sister-in-law and have her set up a Girls' Day with your daughter, letting her know what subjects need to be broached during the course of conversation.

It can be difficult for a young girl to lose her mother, so I am happy to see that she still has a strong female influence in her life - she is entering a time when she will need one more than ever; the teenage years are not easy ones for anyone to navigate, not even a teenager.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Addiction To Girl Scout Cookies Not An Uncommon Problem

Dear Tazi:

I read the letter from the diabetic who is addicted to Skittles, and I can relate, but I think my problem is much worse. I am addicted to Girl Scout Cookies. I usually eat several boxes of them in one day, just because they tasted so good.

Every year, I tell myself I will not buy any Girl Scout Cookies, and every year I buy more cookies than the last. I know what I usually buy several boxes of cookies from several different girls, this way nobody can see how many boxes of cookies I am actually buying. Last year, I bought 52 boxes, with the plan of freezing them so they would last through the entire year (one per week), since the cookies are not available year-round, but the plan did not work as I intended. Instead of saving the cookies, I ate all of them over a two day period and ended up hospitalized with dangerously high blood sugar (over 600 mg/dL). I am pre-diabetic, so I really need to work to make sure an incident like this does not happen again.

I am writing to you right now because I just placed an order for Girl Scout Cookies with my niece. I am embarrassed to say how many boxes I ordered; let’s just say she is well on her way to a camp scholarship, thanks to me. I would hate to cancel the order on her – especially if I end up breaking down and ordering them through eBay – but I need to overcome this cookie addiction! I do not feel this way about other types of cookies, just Girl Scout Cookies. Any ideas on how to help someone like me?

Tag-A-Long Lover

Dear Tag-a-Long Lover:

An addiction to Girl Scout Cookies is not an uncommon problem, but the extremes you are experiencing are, and deeply concern me. Since this year’s cookies are already ordered, I suggest you ask your niece to deliver your share to the local food bank, as a donation, so those who cannot afford to indulge in the godly goodness of Girl Scout Cookies can appreciate these sweet treats!

Next year, rather than order cookies from your niece, try to find a way to make a donation to her local Girl Scout Troop or to put the money directly towards her camp costs. If she is required to sell a certain number of boxes to be allowed to go to camp, feel free to go crazy with the ordering, but donate the cookies – if not to a food bank than to a local church or synagogue (GS Cookies are kosher!), which can use them in their food pantry or as refreshments after a meeting or for a coffee social.

Who doesn't love these?

You mention two things that concern me: your pre-diabetes and your dangerously high blood sugar (which could have induced a heart attack or stroke!) and the fact that you do not feel this way about other cookies (not even Milano cookies?). Being pre-diabetic is an issue you must take seriously! It does not man that you cannot have a cookie or two every now and then, but it does mean that you cannot indulge in a box or two at one time. 52 boxes in two days? seriously? Did you eat anything but cookies during that time? Were you dehydrated, as well?

Obviously, there is something about Girl Scout Cookies that sets off an emotional trigger in you, since you do not react this way about other cookies. Is it because they are not available year-round? Do they hold some special memory from childhood? I strongly suggest that you seek counseling to help with this emotional addiction. Knowing why you crave Girl Scout Cookies in such proportions is the first step to overcoming your addiction to them. Please write back once you have made progress towards this goal, and let my readers know how you are doing!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Child Put Up For Adoption Becomes Subject Of Family Rift

Dear Tazi:

Thirty years ago, when I was just a teenager, I got pregnant by my degenerate boyfriend who dumped me as soon as he found out he was going to be a father. My mother wanted me to have an abortion, but I refused and chose instead to put the baby girl I birthed up for adoption.

During the years since I gave birth, I have graduated college; lived an adventurous life; and settled down into the life of a suburban wife. I have never wanted children myself, and my husband feels the same. He knows about my past, and accepts me as I am, as well as the decision that I made. I have no regrets about my decision to put the baby up for adoption, and the only time I ever think of her is on her birthday, to hope that she has had a wonderful, fulfilling life with people who have offered her more than I ever could, in terms of both financial stability and loving acceptance.

If everything is so peachy, what’s my problem? My mother. After years of my telling her that my husband and I have no plans to have children, it has finally gotten through to her. Now, she constantly wails over how I “selfishly gave away” her granddaughter without thought of what my “poor mother” might want. Tazi, my “poor mother” seems to have conveniently forgotten that what she wanted was for me to have an abortion!

My mother is now pressuring me to join a registry for parents who have put their children up for adoption, to see if “my” child is looking for me. I have no desire to do this, and have told my mother so, but she insists that she has rights to her grandchild. When I remind her that my brother has three children that she never sees, she claims it is because their mother doesn’t like her (this is another story altogether). Mom has called me a cold, unfeeling monster for not caring about my own child.

Tazi, I have never thought of the baby I gave up as “mine”, even as I carried her, knowing that she would not be mine to raise. My mother stood beside me every step of the process, since I was under-aged and she was legally required to be a part of the process. She could have stopped it at any time, but did not, insisting that an abortion would have been the better choice. I think that she gave up the right to access to her “grandchild” 30 years ago, and has no right to pressure me to open up the past. What do you think, Tazi?

Child-Free…Sort Of

Dear Child-Free…Sort Of

You speak from a place of maturity and experience, two things you probably did not have thirty years ago when you made these life-altering decisions. Your courage to go against your mother’s demands for an abortion is admirable, as is the strength it took to see the baby not as yours, but as yours to give to another. The fact that you think of the daughter you birthed on her birthday is also admirable, and reflects the fact that you are not a cold, unfeeling monster; you are just not the parental type.

Your mother’s demand for access to the child you placed for adoption is unnerving. I can understand a person’s desire to connect with long-lost loved ones, but she is refusing to connect with the grandchildren currently in her life. As you allude, there is more to that story, but your mother’s need to control you – back then and now – seems to be the real issue here.

You twice state that your mother would have preferred you have an abortion than to give birth, and you also comment that she stood by you during the entire adoption process. I see things as you do: that she gave up the right to her grandchild when you gave up your parental rights. However, none of us can predict the future. If your mother knew that you would have no other children, would she have pressured you so hard in the first place?

It sounds to me that your mother is living with regrets. Before deciding for or against registering with a parental registry, I suggest you have a long talk with your mother. Ask her what she hopes to gain from a reunion with her long-lost granddaughter. Does she have expectations of what this woman will be like? What if she does not meet with your mother’s expectations, what then? A person is not a puppy; you cannot decide you don’t like what you see and try to return them or find them a new owner. Once you have some clarity on what your mother seeks, you can decide from there your next course of action, remembering the possibility that the child you put up for adoption may not even know that she is adopted, and therefore might not be seeking you at all.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tazi's Corner #28 - Success Tips For Returning Students

Dear Readers:

Over the past few weeks I have received a few letters from adult humans returning to the classroom, for college; trade school; or a GED program, all asking the same questions: what to expect, how to succeed, and how to overcome their nervousness and outright fright! These letters intrigued me, because my Mommie is an adult learner. I never thought that there was something out there that might scare her; my Mommie can do anything! I know that everyone says that about their Mommy (or at least they should be saying that!), but it is true! I never thought there might be something that scared my Mommie – other than when I wander off out of her sight, but then she is just being silly and overprotective. I decided to investigate the issue further in order to assist these letter writers!

In preparation to respond to their letters as one batch, I interviewed my Mommie over a bowl of cat cereal, while she sipped on her coffee and tried to fill out her paperwork for her impending graduation. Having none of that, I sat on the paperwork until I had her full and undivided attention. I found the answers that she gave me to be quite helpful, and did not wish to edit them for space, so I decided to put them here in my Tazi’s Corner column, where I have more room to share my thoughts! I am not fond of lists, and I seem to be doing more of them lately, so I have not numbered this one, and have put it in paragraph form to make it look less like a list. Let me know if I fooled you into thinking it isn't a list! Without further delay, I present to you

Success Tips For Returning Students!
By Tazi-Kat and His Mommie

Starting any new venture can be scary, so treat returning to school like any other new experience. What is the first thing you do when you start a new job? You get to know the people in your office. Well, the school is now your office, so get to know people – your classmates, your professors, the Reference Librarians; all of these people will make your learning journey a much easier and less isolating time.

Also, don’t let age differences get in the way of making friendships. Two of my Mommie’s best friends are about 15 years younger than her, but you would never know it! Both women are very mature for their age, have set career goals, and aren't allowing youthful stupidity to distract them. Mommie wishes she knew women like this when she was younger; she may have indulged in less youthful stupidity for it.

Bring your schooling home with you. The last thing you want is for your family to feel left out of your life, so don’t keep what you are doing to yourself. Share your day; invite your significant other to join you for a tour of your school/classroom, and introduce them to the people you interact with regularly. If you have school-age children, schedule a set “homework time” during which everyone – including you – are doing some form of schoolwork.

Another important thing is to find balance. It will be difficult at first, but as you settle into a routine you will be able to find a school-work-home life balance. Make a study schedule and stick to it. This may mean you will need to give up the distractions and time-wasters – Facebook and video/computer games are big ones – but after a few weeks you will find that doing so makes it easier to complete your reading/studying and creates more time for family and friends.

Speaking of studying, try to do a little bit every day and break it up into small chunks. If you have ten minutes to spare, try reviewing your classroom notes or working on a math problem that is giving you difficulty. Knowing that you will not have to spend a lot of time doing it makes it easier to try; when the time limit is in sight, it doesn't seem so onerous. If you are setting aside a large block of time to study/read/work on homework, take a 5 minute break every 20 minutes. Studies have shown this to result in better grades.

Grades! Everyone wants to chase after straight A’s, and they think cramming every little fact into their head is the way to do it. It isn't  In fact, cramming is the worst way to study because you forget about 90% of what you “learned” as soon as the test is over. This may not seem all too important, but if other, more advanced classes or success in the workplace depend on what you learned you will soon discover just how important true learning really is! Rather than chase grades, chase knowledge; good grades will follow.

When it comes to reading your textbook, don’t try to read every word on every page; rather, check out the first page of the chapter where it highlights what you need to know; read the chapter summary where it summarizes what is in the chapter; review any new vocabulary and important concepts. Look for bold headlines and words; illustrations, diagrams, and text-boxes; and anything else that is highlighted as important. When you have finished reviewing a section, look for any “self-review” questions; if you can’t answer them correctly, go back and find the answer to what you got wrong. A lot of professors use these questions on quizzes and tests, sometimes word for word!

Also, while still on the subject, many textbooks come with an online study component that guides you through what you need to know with games, quizzes, flash cards, and video lessons that make learning easier and a lot more interesting. Look for the web address on the inside cover page or back cover of your textbook!

Another way to maintain good grades is to do the assigned reading before class! A professor’s lecture is meant to supplement and explain the assigned reading. If you have not done the reading before the lecture, the lecture will not make as much sense as it would if you had read your textbook. Plus, if the lecture does not answer any questions you were left with after reading the text, you can generally ask your professors questions during the recitation [question and answer] period, after class, or during their office hours.

Don’t be afraid to take advantage of a professor’s office hours! Most of the time, they are sitting there catching up on work or reading because they are required to be there for their students, regardless of whether or not students show. If you are not available during their regular office hours, ask for an appointment to meet with them for a Q & A session. It’s like a free tutoring session with the professor!

Free tutoring may be a service your school provides. Check with student services to see if your school has a peer tutoring program. In most cases, the tutors are students who took the class they are tutoring and excelled in it, so you will be assisted by someone who had the same professor/teacher as you.

If you aren’t certain if a particular professor will be a good fit for you, ask fellow students for recommendations or check out (just understand that some students who post there are allergic to work; take such reviews with a grain of salt).

So there you have it – may you learn from one who has gone before you. Who knew that Mommie had learned more than just the stuff inside her textbooks? Good luck to all who are returning to school for a new semester of learning! Next week, I will present Part 2 of this subject - Tips For Conquering Test Anxiety!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Child's Birthday Party Needs Allergen-Free Alternatives

Dear Tazi:

My daughter "Janie's" eighth birthday is approaching, and she wants to have an ice-cream sundae bar instead of a cake. This will be much more expensive than giving her just a cake, but her heart is set on having a make-your-own-sundae bar, and I agreed to this theme - before I discovered that her best friend is lactose intolerant.

"Susie" cannot digest lactose in any form, which I discovered while discussing Janie's birthday party plans with Susie's mother after a recent play-date. Susie's Mom expressed disappointment that Susie would be unable to attend the party if I go ahead with the sundae-bar theme, unless lactose-free ice-cream was also provided as an alternative.

Tazi, I have already eliminated nuts from the sundae bar to accommodate allergies, which was not a problem since I was able to replace nuts with crushed pineapple as a substitute topping. Must I accommodate Susie's allergy, too? As far as I know, she is the only child who suffers from lactose intolerance, and lactose-free ice-cream is not cheap! The smallest size I could find was a 1.5 quart size for twice the cost of normal ice cream! There is no way Susie would eat that much ice cream! Couldn't she just take a Lactaid pill or have a sundae without the ice-cream, putting the toppings on fruit instead? I would hate to see my daughter's best friend excluded from her birthday party, but it seems that there is no other way, short of scrapping the whole idea of a sundae party altogether.

Not All Screaming For Ice Cream

Dear Not All Screaming For Ice Cream:

There has to be some place to compromise between Susie missing her best friend's birthday party and forcing her to choke down a pill that her mother obviously does not want her to take. Since Susie cannot digest lactose "in any form" this rules out most lactose free ice-creams, which still contain about 1% lactose.

As long as Susie is cool with it (that is how the kids say it, right?), I think the idea of a fruit-base alternative is a lovely idea! What kid wouldn't want to add chocolate and/or caramel sauce and whipped cream to a bowl of sliced apple or  banana? If you were to go with this idea, I would make it available for all of your party guests, not just Susie. This would serve two purposes: Susie would not feel singled out by being the only one served fruit instead of ice cream, and children who are not fond of ice cream will not be forced to eat it.

Well now, this looks yummy!

I would suggest you refer to the party as a "fruit and ice cream sundae bar" on the invitations and let the chips fall where they may. If Susie's mother still demands that lactose free ice cream be provided, she will have to provide it herself. A good host does their best to accommodate the tastes of their guests; a good party guest does not make unreasonable demands on the host.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

RIP To The Original "Dear Abby"

Dear Readers:

It was with great sadness that I have read that Pauline Phillips - the original Dear Abby - has passed away at the age of 94. Although she had retired from writing her daily advice column several years ago, passing the column onto her daughter, she has remained one of my idols, giving advice that is based, for the most part, on common sense; kindness; and a desire to see the right thing done by all.

I raise a paw to you, dear and your twin sister Ann Landers have been reunited, although this time it is not in a Chicago newsroom. May you rest with the angels.

In memory of Pauline "Abby" Phillips
7/4/1918 - 1/17/2013


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Quarter-Life Leaves Man Wondering "Is This All There Is?"

Dear Tazi:

I have no direction in life. I am 24 and never went to college, so my career opportunities are limited to my skills, which are also limited. Every day I wake up, go to work, come home and watch TV or go out drinking with friends. I don't have a "lady friend", as you might say, but there is one particular [prostitute] that I visit regularly. However, when you pay someone for sex you can't exactly count them as a girlfriend.

With both Valentine's Day and my 25th birthday coming up, I feel like I am missing out on something. I want more out of life, but I don't know where to find it or how to get it. What's your secret?

Still Haven't Found What I'm looking For

Dear Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For:

Could it be that you are still searching because you do not know what you want, so even if you found it you would not recognize it for what it is?

As an abandoned cat who was taken in by the shelter, I knew exactly what I wanted: a human who would love me and care for me like I was their child. I found that in my Mommie; I want for nothing more. Through struggle, I was able to discern my needs and target my wants so when opportunity knocked, I was ready to answer the door. That is my "secret"; nothing  more, nothing less.

Do you know what you want in life? It is obvious from your letter that you are seeking more than what your current life offers. What is it missing, other than a proper lady friend? If you seek a better job, seek a way to improve your skills. Many community college and adult education programs offer vocational training for those who do not seek a degree. If you seek a proper lady friend, stop looking for her at the bar and try other social venues - parties, coffee shops, church/synagogue (if you are religious), join a gym (if nothing else, you will get healthier which can improve your personal outlook on life) or even try meeting someone at a rock 'n' bowl event!

Do not expect your life to turn around overnight - Rome wasn't built in a day, you know! Take baby steps towards improving your situation; take risks and try new things. These efforts will no doubt make you a more interesting person while introducing you to new paths to travel in life - where you will hopefully find what you seek.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Morbidly Obese Child Needs Acceptance, Love,...and A Healthier Direction

Dear Tazi:

My son’s mother and I are divorced and we share custody. “Justin” is eight years old and of average height, but he weights almost 120 pounds. The boy is morbidly obese, and I am deeply concerned about his health. With regard to his upbringing, this is the one issue over which his mother and I disagree; unfortunately, that disagreement spills over into several areas.

When Justin is at my house, I make sure he eats healthy foods; plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat foods. Justin is not happy with this arrangement, but he has learned the hard way that if he does not eat the food he is given less nutritional alternatives will not be offered. When Justin is with his Mom, the opposite is true. She has given in to Justin’s desires for poor dietary choices like macaroni and cheese, Raman noodles, hot dogs, and sugary foods.

We have only been divorced for two years, and Justin’s weight has more than doubled during that time. His pediatrician has ruled out any glandular problems, and agrees with me that Justin’s weight problem is related to diet; my ex-wife insists that it is “just baby-fat” and that he will lose it as he ages. I am afraid that my son will not be aging well and will die young if his diet is not overhauled now. He gets absolutely no exercise at his Mom’s house, since she allows him to sit around and play video games whenever he is with her. I try to make Justin exercise, but the effort it takes him just to ride his bike up and down the street is heartbreaking, and he is soon sweating, out of breath, and begging for a Gatorade.

My ex-wife could easily afford to buy healthy food for Justin – I have offered to purchase it for her myself, but she refused, telling me that money is not the problem; the problem is that at the end of the day she lacks the energy to argue with Justin over what he will and will not eat. She thinks it abusive to allow him to refuse a meal until he realizes that healthy food in a reasonable portion size is all he is going to get. (Portion size is something else his mother refuses to control; last Halloween she allowed him to eat an entire pound of chocolate in one night to make up for the fact that he did not have the energy to go trick or treating.).

I am considering suing for full custody of my son, a commitment I am willing to undertake to save his physical health, but I do not wish to take him away from his mother. I just want his mother to be a more responsible caregiver. Can you think of any other way to motivate her, short of taking our son away from her?

Fit And Frustrated

Dear Fit And Frustrated:

Your letter leaves me feeling a deep concern for your son. It is obvious from his choice of food that he is being malnourished while at the same time being fed to death! From the sound of his diet he is not receiving the nutrients he needs to fortify his growing body, and at the same time is receiving too much of nutrients meant to be taken in sparingly. A single serving of Raman noodles in sauce has over 1,200 mg of sodium; if Justin is eating the entire block of noodles, that is two servings – and more than a full day’s worth of sodium and carbohydrates, with little to no other vitamins or protein.

From what you say, your son will eat nutritious food in proper portions, he just prefers junk food. Since your ex-wife is worn-out at the end of the day and caves to Justin’s preferences, a plan that works for her will be the plan that is most successful. Her comment that Justin’s extra pounds are “just baby fat” is obviously a denial of the reality that is before her eyes. Rather than sue for full custody – a serious and dramatic step – try other options first.

Together – as a family – the three of you should see a Nutritionalist. Showing Justin a united front on this issue may be what he needs to realize the severity of his problem, and will also show that he can no longer pit one parent against the other. A Nutritionalist will teach you – as parents – proper meal planning and foods appropriate for a growing boy who needs to lose weight. S/he will teach Justin the definition of portion size and tasty substitutes for his favorite foods. For example, turkey hot dogs are fat free and make a delicious substitute for beef or pork frankfurters; fresh fruit can be sweeter than candy.

Justin also needs to start exercising. Nobody likes to exercise alone, so as his parents you need to make it a point to exercise with him. Since Justin likes video games, the Wii Fit or other game system that requires physical movement to play would be an excellent investment made on his behalf. Justin did not double his weight overnight, and it will take a while for him to lose it.

Making diet and exercise a punishment will only discourage him from following such a regimen, so I do not suggest that you withhold food from him. Rather, try to find compromise. Both you and Justin’s mother should try meal planning, and include Justin in the process; if he feels involved in deciding what’s for dinner every night there will be no battles to fight with him at the end of the day. In the end, you need to make Justin’s journey a journey towards better health and more energy, not about making him feel badly about himself.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Overbearing Conversationalist" Needs To Learn How To Take Turns Talking

Dear Tazi:

I have a good friend who is a very dear woman, but has one major flaw that drives people away from her: she is an incessant talker who always manages to turn the conversation back to her. She was recently bemoaning her lack of friends - right after I mentioned I was getting together for lunch with some ladies we both know - so I felt obligated to bring "Pam" along with me.

When we arrived at the restaurant, one of my friends was on crutches. She had been in a car accident a few weeks prior and had done some muscle damage. Pam immediately expressed concern for the woman, but as soon as she said the words "car accident" Pam hijacked the conversation to talk about a car accident she had been in 12 years ago and how she still feels pain when the weather is bad. When the conversation turned to a different subject, Pam again took it over and made it all about her.

Just when a member of our party was ready to tell Pam off, our friend on crutches needed to use the ladies room and Pam offered to assist her by carrying the woman's purse, which showed the side of Pam that I adore - selfless and giving. At the end of lunch, Pam thanked us all for having her and even paid our bar tab as her way of showing her gratitude.

Since that day, Pam has been trying to "friend" these other women on Facebook and make plans to get together in person. Although my friends have accepted her friend requests, they are reluctant to spend time with her in person because she is such an "overbearing conversationalist", as one of my group politely put it. I would hate to see Pam excluded from our group get-togethers, because she is desperately in search of more friends, but at the same time I do not want to hurt her by telling her point-blank why the others seek to exclude her. Short of sneaking out behind Pam's back is there any way I can find a comfortable solution that would please everyone and hurt no one?

Somewhere Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Dear Somewhere Between A Rock And A Hard Place:

My first thought was that Pam might have been trying to fit in with your group when she prattled on, but then I remembered that she is acquainted with the other women, as well. Since she regularly monopolizes the conversation, I doubt it is just nerves that prompt such rudeness, so I am going to guess that Pam does not realize what she is doing. In her attempt to empathize with others she is steamrolling over them.

Although it will not be easy to tell Pam about her conversational flaws, it can be done in a gentle manner that will spare her feelings. The next time Pam hijacks the conversation, hold up your hand in a "stop" motion and gently mention that you need to say something. Then, tell Pam that she may not realize it, but cutting people off mid sentence or mid-thought is considered by many to be rude, and may be the reason she has such difficulty cultivating the friendships she seeks. Let her know that you enjoy listening to her, but that it comes at the expense of losing your turn in a two-way conversation.

Pam will most likely be flustered at this point, so try your best to comfort her, letting her know that you enjoy her company just the same and that she is a sweet and loving person, but that she needs to be aware of how she treats others in conversation. If she seeks to improve upon this problem, offer to help her through regular conversations. If, on the other hand, Pam is offended, reveal to her that you only have her best interests at heart. Since Pam has few friends to begin with and is seeking more, I doubt she will write you off her list.

Once Pam has shown that she is making a conscious effort to be considerate of those she is conversing with, speak to your luncheon group about giving Pam a second chance, mentioning that she is aware of her tendency to be an "overbearing conversationalist" and is working on changing. If they refuse to offer a second chance, perhaps you should give a second glance to the type of people you have befriended.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bad Listener Wants To Be Better Conversationalist

Dear Tazi:

Am I a terrible person? I have an inability to express interest in the lives and doings of others if they do not somehow concern me. For example, right now, my best friend is going through a prolonged illness that will require her to have extensive surgery. When we got together for coffee last week all she talked about was how terrible she has been feeling and how she is hoping the surgery will correct her problems; all I heard was “blah blah blah, me me me…”. I realize that other people’s medical problems are not something most people want to hear about, but I feel like I could have been a more supportive friend. Instead, I just zoned out on her.

I wish I could say that the only time I zone out on people is during discussions about other people’s medical issues, but I don’t. I zone out all the time – in church while the preacher is preaching, at dinner while my husband and kids are talking about their day, with my Mom when I am on the phone with her. I am starting to feel very self-absorbed. I have tried to be a better listener, but all the while I am thinking about what I want to say and wondering when it will be my turn to talk. Is there any help for me? Can you suggest some ideas on how I can become a better listener, and thus a better part of the conversation?

Feeling Self-Absorbed

Dear Feeling Self-Absorbed:

Recognizing your problem is half the battle. There are many people like you who do not realize that their behavior is a problem (I will have a letter detailing the other side of the story tomorrow). Once you recognize that your behavior is an issue, you can work on solving the problem.

You say that when your best friend was talking about her very real concerns all you heard was “blah blah blah, me me me”. This is a very self-centered thing to say! Admittedly, few people want to hear the gory details of someone else’s health issues, but you could have focused less on the details and more on your friend’s emotional state. One good thing about listening is that it allows the listener to steer the conversation towards a topic that they would prefer to hear. When your friend commented that she was hoping her surgery would cure her ills, you could have asked her what she is looking forward to doing once she is cured. This would have directed the conversation to happier topics that might have been of mutual interest (travel, sports, hobbies, etc). A conversation is a two-way process that requires all to take both an active and resting (not restive) part in it.

Cats aren't the only ones who are bad listeners!

You mention that while others are talking all you can do is think about what you want to say. I suggest that you practice being a good conversationalist by having a conversation with yourself. Record yourself speaking, and then play it back to listen to how you sound. Are you bored with yourself? Do you find what you are saying detailed and interesting? Do you pause to allow someone else to add their thoughts? In short, are you the type of person to who others want to listen? Once you discover how you sound to others, you might be more willing to keep your mouth closed and your ears open.

Play back your recording a second time, this time pausing the recording to add comments or questions, as if you are merely an interested listener and not the person speaking. Does your recorded conversation allow for that? Good speakers can create good listeners. If what you have to say is interesting to them, people will want to listen to you and ask further questions of you; they may also start to mimic you, following your cues and allowing for comments and questions and asking questions of you when they speak to keep the conversation going back and forth.

If you find that your problem is that you lack empathy for others rather than good listening skills and a reasonable attention span, professional counseling may help you get to the root of your issues. I can understand not wanting to hear all the boring details (as my Mommie’s Grandpa Eddie used to say, “I asked you for the time, not how to build a clock”), but you should at least have an interest in the goings-on of your family members.


 Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Loss Of Pet Leaves A Hole; New Pet Is Not A Replacement

Dear Tazi,

My cat “Indiana” had to be put down this past September, after 18 years of life. I’d had Indiana since he was a kitten; I loved that cat more than anything. My seven year old daughter – who I have custody of part-time – was also upset over Indiana’s death, which is why my girlfriend went out and bought me a new kitten for Christmas.

My daughter loves “Sadie”, and I have to admit that she is a cute kitten, but I am just not ready for a new cat, and I am afraid that it is showing. Try as I might, I just can’t bond with this new kitten. Indiana was a man’s cat; he was a total [tough guy]. Sadie is gentle when she plays – great for my daughter, but hardly a good replacement for Indiana.

I don’t want to insult my girlfriend or upset my daughter by getting rid of Sadie, but I just can’t bond with her like I did Indiana. I am just not ready to start over without my main man, Indiana. You’re a cat. Do you have any suggestions on what I should do here? I feel badly. Sadie is just a kitten and always looks like she can’t understand why I don’t love her like everyone else.


Dear Hoosier:

The loss of a pet is an inconsolable one, yet you have my deepest sympathies on the loss of your beloved cat. I have always said that until you have owned a pet you have not known unconditional love. Your Indiana sounds a lot like my predecessor, Koko Kat, who was also a [tough guy]; in fact, his nickname was Bad A--. Koko ran off after coming out on the winning end of a tangle with something large and dangerous, but he was missing for several weeks, during which time my Mommie looked for him every day – all through the neighborhood and at the animal shelter – which is where she saw and fell in love with me.

Like you, Mommie did not wish to adopt another cat (even me); she wanted her original cat back! Then, she realized that I was not a replacement of her Koko Kat; I would not replace the memories she had of Koko, rather, I would bring her new memories all our own, of just her and me. Different does not necessarily mean better – or worse; just unique. My personality is the polar opposite of Koko Kat, who chose to return to his pre-adoptive feral ways. Mommie does not love me more or less than she does Koko – just differently. If you were to have another child, would you love him/her more or less than your first? Of course not; you would love them the same amount, just in different ways.

I suggest that you give little Sadie a chance to be her own self – not a shadow of Indiana or a replacement of him, either, but a kitten with her own personality. Try to think of her as an additional cat in your life, not one that is a replacement for the cat you lost. Get to know Sadie by playing with her, offering her a cuddle, and cleaning her litter-box. She may never be the rough and tumble cat that Indiana was, but unlike dogs a kitten’s personality does not always reflect the cat she will become!

If, in the end, you simply cannot bond with Sadie please do not send her to a shelter; try to find her a home with friends or family or even your girlfriend, which would allow your daughter to still see her, or find a good home for her with someone who will love and cherish her. It is unfair, but kittens more than six months old are not adopted very quickly – people want a baby kitten, not a half grown one, and sending Sadie to the shelter may mean that is where she is to live out her days.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Culture Clash Causes Relationship Misunderstanding

Dear Tazi:

My boyfriend “Elton” is from England, so he has that wonderful British accent that makes women (including me) melt. He also has a habit of calling people by terms of endearment instead of their first names. All men are “chap” or “mate” or something equally innocuous, but the women are all “honey” or “sweetie”, which gets on my nerves.

Elton is a very good looking man with a charming personality. Combine that with his accent, and you can see how women might take his personal attention the wrong way. Elton does not believe that there is a problem, saying that women never actually come on to him, but I argue that that is because women generally flirt and wait for the man to ask them on a date – which I know Elton would never do; he is very faithful to me.

I asked Elton to make a New Year’s resolution to be more aware of what he calls people, and to stop using terms of endearment and to start calling people by their first names. Elton balked at this, saying that his “vernacular” is a minor issue, and that I am making a big deal out of nothing. When I pressed him, he argued that there are a lot of things I do that annoy him, but he ignores them. When I asked him to name ONE annoying habit of mine, he couldn’t; he just said that there are several and that there is no need to make a big deal out of them, that they are a part of who I am and that he loves me as I am. I think Elton is merely trying to charm his way out of changing; he is saying that I am looking for trouble where there isn’t any. He has agreed to try, but refused to make a resolution of it, which I feel is disrespectful to my feelings. Am I making a bigger deal out of this than I should, Tazi? Or is Elton wrong, even as he insists he is not “marginalizing my concerns”?


Dear “Marginalized”:

If I had to take a guess, I would say that your annoying habits include making a big deal out of nothing; always needing to be right; and just maybe thinking that you are perfect.

Different cultures have different protocols; not every culture is like our American one, where a term of endearment constitutes flirting. The fact that Elton calls men “mate” or “chap”, and does not reserve endearments exclusively for women, speaks to the fact that such speech patterns are a part of his culture; to demand that he change this would be like him demanding that you stop using the word “dude” or other American slang so ingrained in your vocabulary that you probably do not even realize that you are using it.

I rule that you should cut Elton some slack here. I do not believe that he is “marginalizing your concerns”; I believe that he has given careful consideration to your concerns and finds them to be overblown and even insulting. Seen from Elton’s point of view, you are accusing him of hitting on every woman with whom he comes in contact, from the teenage cashier at the grocery store to the elderly librarian. Not every woman is comfortable being called such names by just anyone; while you may think they are swooning over Elton, many are not. Women who come in regular contact with Elton will soon realize that he is not coming on to them, that the terms of endearment he uses are a cultural thing.

I do not suggest that you swallow your concerns; talking about them to Elton was the healthy thing to do in order to keep your relationship running smoothly. However, you do not appear to have listened to Elton’s answers, especially the part where he said that he loves you, faults and all. Rather than force a resolution on him, why not make one for yourself to love your boyfriend as he is, annoying habits and all. Nobody is perfect...not even us cats!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Once A Cheat, Always A Cheat?

Dear Tazi:

I have been dating my boyfriend for two years, but I am always afraid that he will cheat on me. Why? Because when we met he had a girlfriend. We were dating for six months when I found out about her, and told him it was either her or me. He chose me, which I thought was wonderful, but I recently found out from a reliable source that his first girlfriend at the time had her suspicions and was getting ready to leave him anyway. Now my victory feels quite hollow, and explains my fear that he will cheat. I feel like a consolation prize.

“Jack” is very good looking and very outgoing, so I am always nervous when he goes out somewhere without me – even if it is just to the office. He insists that I am being paranoid; that he has learned his lesson and that he would never again cheat, that it is far too stressful to handle two women, but this just makes me worry that he will simply leave if he finds another woman who interests him. I feel so insecure and sometimes wish that I had left him when I discovered he was cheating on his girlfriend with me. I consider leaving still, but two years is a long time to be with someone, and a large investment of my life. I would like to get married and have children sometime within the next few years, so I am unsure if I should give up what I have to search for something new.


Dear Cheated:

Your signature speaks volumes, and I believe that you are being cheated out of the joys of a loving, trusting relationship. Have you felt this type of insecurity in past relationships, or only with Jack? The answer to this question could go a long way in helping you to decide your next move.

Two years is a good amount of time to invest in a relationship, but compared to the rest of your life it is the blink of an eye. You say that you would like to get married and have children sometime within the next few years, but you make no mention of what Jack wants. Two years from now you could be exactly where you are now – insecure and hoping for a proposal that may or may not happen.

You state that you feel like a “consolation prize”. Did you at first feel like a trophy when Jack “chose” you over his other girlfriend? If so, this could have colored your view of the situation, presenting things different than the reality that surrounded you. I believe that you know what you need to do, even if it is not necessarily what you want to do, and that is leave Jack and get over this cheat. Yes, I called him a cheat. Although I do not subscribe to the idea of once a cheat always a cheat, I do not get the impression that Jack has said or done anything to reassure you that he has changed; if he truly loved you, he would be making every effort to make you feel that way, starting by assuaging your insecurities, not by calling you “paranoid”.

I strongly suggest that you seek professional counseling before making any major decisions. It appears that you have lost your sense of self-worth somewhere along the line; a counselor can help you to find it and to assist you in finding the path that is best for you to take – with or without Jack by your side.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.