Monday, March 31, 2014

Second Generation Friendship Will Take Time To Develop

Dear Tazi:

There is a woman I know ho I have been friends with since childhood. We both have young children (under the age of 2 and still in diapers) and "Rowena" constantly talks about the future they will have together. She will say things like "when the children become Brownies and then Girl Scouts together" or "when the girls take swim lessons together at the YMCA".

Tazi, right now our girls socialize together because they have no choice but to accept each others company. They get along well, but they are still babies! Neither child has reached an age where she is asserting her independence or preferences for certain friends. I would love for my daughter and my best friend's daughter to grow up as close best friends, but I am not going to force this on her. Neither will I push her to join Girl Scouts or to take swimming lessons at the Y. I will encourage her to try new and different things and of course allow her to join Scouts if she truly wants to, but I believe in letting a child develop at their own natural pace. When I was a kid I was forced to play a sport I hated and I swore I would never do this to my own child.

I have tried to politely tell Rowena that time will tell what kind of activities our girls will enjoy, but she just pouts and tells me that I am "sucking all thE fun out of motherhood", which raises other concerns in my mind. Can you think of a way to let Rowena know that I am not interested in planning my daughter's social calendar for five years down the road? And how should I respond to her accusation that I am "sucking the fun out of motherhood"?   If controlling her child's every step is what Rowena considers "fun", I fear for the future of her daughter - and my own.

Signed,
Enjoying Motherhood...One Day At A Time

Dear Enjoying Motherhood...One Day At ATime:

It appears to me that you and Rowena have very different parenting styles. Please do not allow this to affect your lifelong friendship. People change throughout their lives, and parenthood is one more change your friendship can weather. It is quite obvious that your relationship with Rowena means a great deal to her, and that she would like for it to continue through the second generation (and maybe even beyond). You need to ask why this is so important to Rowena.

Rowena sounds like she is lonely, and having a difficult time adjusting to motherhood. Her only fun in raising her daughter is to plan her future down to the last detail? Why is she unable to enjoy her daughter in the here and now? Could Rowena be suffering from depression, postpartum or otherwise? Considering the length of your friendship, this should not be an uncomfortable topic to broach with Rowena; the next time she starts talking about the future, suggest that you both concentrate on enjoying the here and now, and gently probe to see if there are reasons Rowena is having trouble doing that. Reassure Rowena that her friendship is very important to you, and that you cannot imagine a time that you will not be there for each other.



If Rowena keeps insisting on making far-flung future plans, just smile and remind her that you look forward to what the future brings, but prefer to enjoy living in the present, and that before signing your daughter up for any activities you would like the child's personal input on the matter - which she will be unable to give until she starts talking; then, turn the conversation back to whatever it is the children are enjoying at present.

Snuggles,
Tazi

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


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Repost: Tazi's Corner #52: Twelve Things Every 18 Year Old Should Know Before Embarking Out Into The World

Dear Readers:

Tazi ate something that didn’t agree with him and is now recovering from an industrial-sized tummy ache, so he asked (well, rather told) me to write his column for this week because apparently he thinks I don’t have enough to do around the house now that I am done with school and only putting in 40 hours a week instead of 60. I almost told Tazi to run a re-run, that I am trying to clean the house after spending the last several years giving it no more than a lick and a promise (because something had to give) when I ran across a column on non-traditional baby showers (not for me, I promise…that ship has sailed).

One of the non-traditional ideas suggested was to have an “advice time capsule” where each of the guests gives the gift of advice to the child. I thought this was a great idea for the child who has everything, because what kid really needs a sterling silver rattle? I mean seriously, will the other kids at playcare make fun of him because his rattle came from Babies ‘R’ Us and not Tiffany’s? Furthermore, I find that children who stand a scary good chance of growing up to be the next Paris Hilton could really use some sound advice on how not to end up being the next Paris Hilton and instead become the next Oprah Winfrey. Since I am far from being the next Oprah Winfrey and most of my friends could use a helping hand with the cost of that stroller they are eyeing, I think that for the average person the “advice time capsule” should be a bonus, in addition to any regular gift you give.

And if you can afford to give this as your “regular gift”
I suggest you spring for the stroller instead

So how does the Advice Time Capsule work? Each guest writes down a piece of advice for the baby to read when they get older – say their 16th, 18th, or 21st birthday; a box full of life’s lessons that you hope the child will take to heart because they are coming from someone other than mom and Dad who, as every teenager knows, know absolutely nothing about the world because they came of age shortly after the dinosaurs went extinct but sometime before Al Gore invented the Internet (gosh that line never gets old, at least not with me!).

Since I have no children of my own (I have nephews, nieces, young cousins, two adult almost-step-children, and, of course, a cat) I have decided to share my list of “Wish I Knew…’s” with you. Adults, please feel free to nod along and say things like  “EXACTLY!” and “OMG! That is SO true!” People under the age of 21, try not to roll your eyes too much (which is probably what I did when I was your age and at the age of 40 I am wishing I paid more attention).

Not all of this stuff on this list has happened to me; some of it happened to people I know or people I have met on my travels through the Community College where I work. Much of it is advice I have learned along the way from the students who have influenced me as much as I have influenced them.

Twelve Things Every 18 Year Old Should Know Before Embarking Out Into The World

1.       You are now old enough to get arrested. All that stupid stuff you did up until now really will go on that “permanent record” that your teachers always spoke of but you never actually saw. Think of it as a giant personnel file that every future employer will get to view before hiring you. Is being turned down for a job really worth tagging that wall with graffiti?

2.       The only way to get over a broken heart is time. Dating someone new isn’t going to help you forget the person you just lost; it’s only going to remind you that you are no longer with them. On the flip side, sitting at home and drowning your sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or drunk dialing your ex is not the way to go, either. Try not to be that person; instead, try to remember what life was like before you met the ex and get back to that place. Be the kind of person your ex will regret leaving.

3.       Always put learning first; success will follow. If you try to put success first by cramming (and thus saving time and regular effort) you won’t remember a thing in the long-run. This is especially true if you are in school; by the time you graduate and will have wasted thousands of dollars and a lot of time and energy on earning a piece of paper, not a degree. Once you finish school precious few people will care about your G.P.A. Care about it anyway, since it can earn you a good deal of scholarship money.

4.       Your first job is most likely going to suck; there is a (much smaller) chance that your second might suck, too. Rather than complain about it and call out sick let it motivate you to work hard so you can prove that you are worth a better job further up the career ladder. If by your third job you still hate work you either need to improve your work ethic or find a career field that is a better fit for you. While work should not necessarily be your life’s fulfillment, the thought of going to the office should not make you burst into tears.

5.       Take 10% of every paycheck and put it into savings. If you really cannot afford 10% (and I mean really, as in you are not spending $4.00 on a cup of Starbucks coffee every morning and you are brown-bagging your lunch really) put your loose change in a jar and make that your savings account. I once knew a guy who had over $2,000 in quarters in a 5-gallon Poland Springs water jug. He told me it was too inconvenient to try and spend it, too heavy for burglars to carry away, and if his car ever died it provided the cash on-hand to buy a new one. (Back then, you could get a quality used car for around $2,500. Adjust your savings accordingly).

6.       Limit your social networking and increase your face-time presence. This seems like an easy thing to do, but social networking can be very addictive, and quite honestly I don’t know anyone who is going to hire or recommend someone they know solely through Facebook or even LinkedIn. Social media is a great way to keep up with people you have met in person, so go out and make those contacts count for more than a regular opponent in WordsWith Friends.

Social media also tends to suck up all of your time...

7.       You are going to make some stupid decisions and do some really dumb things in spite of yourself. Own them, rather than try to blame someone else or, even worse, lie about it. Having a sense of personal responsibility can mean the difference between being successful in life and being the kind of person who is always struggling to get ahead and never understanding why people won’t take a chance on them.

8.       Learn from your mistakes. I know that this sounds like another no-brainer, but humans are creatures of habit and tend to repeat the same actions hoping for a different result simply because it is easier than trying a new way of doing something. This goes for everything from dating the wrong person (stop looking for Mister or Miss Right in a bar!) to bad spending habits. Even a bad relationship can teach you what you don’t want out of life. This brings me to…

9.       Take risks. My nephew likes to say “You gotta risk it to get the biscuit” which sticks with me because I like biscuits. Do your best to make your risks calculated ones, but even a stupid risk can result in success with a little luck…and if it results in failure, you will quickly learn not to like the feel of it, so that could work out in the end, too.

10.   Make your experiences meaningful. Nothing is worse than going through life on auto-pilot and wondering when something interesting is going to happen. Find interest by creating it. Ask questions – you might be surprised to discover that your boring old ancient auntie who you only see at the annual family reunion was once a Las Vegas showgirl!

And the party just got a lot more interesting!

11.   Follow your instincts. Human beings are the only creatures on earth that ignore their instincts. If you have a feeling that something is a good risk to take; that you should take one path over another; or even that the decision you are about to make is a bad one, trust that feeling. Push away your fears, and if the feeling is still there, trust it. On the other hand, you should not be afraid to…

12.   Face your fears. Everyone has at least one irrational fear. When something is keeping you from doing something you either want or need to do, you need to build a bridge and get over it. If public speaking is what slays you, take a class in how to do it right. If you have a fear of flying, remind yourself that you are more likely to die in a car crash than a plane crash (wouldn’t that be ironic?). Irrational fears hold us back from truly living; embrace life for all its worth and you will never have to live with the regret of what you might have done.


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

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Woman Says "Yes" To Proposal; "No" To The Ring

Dear Tazi:

My boyfriend just asked me to marry him and I am so super excited! Of course I said YES! There is just one problem: I absolutely hate, with every fiber of my being, the engagement ring he gave me. It is an old-fashioned, round cut, 2 carat, diamond solitaire; completely not my style. I would prefer something trendier, with baguettes, in white gold; something along the lines of an emerald cut or maybe a princess cut stone, too.

The bigger issue is that the ring he gave me belonged to his great-grandmother and has been passed down through the generations – his grandfather gave it to his grandmother, his father gave it to his mother, and now his mother is passing it on to him to give to me. There is no way I could possibly ask him to buy me a different ring, one more to my tastes and liking; but this thing really depresses me. I mean, I am wearing a dead person’s jewelry! I am also afraid if I ask for a different ring that my fiancé will decide he’d rather have a different girlfriend, one that will accept his heirloom engagement ring. Should I just try and cope, Tazi? I love my fiancé, but I know that I will never learn to love this ring!

Signed,
I’d Rather Be Ring-less

Dear I’d Rather Be Ring-less:

I realize that an engagement ring is so much more than a piece of jewelry; it is an outward sign of the love and commitment between two people. Do you realize the importance of the ring your fiancé presented to you? Or were you blinded by disappointment that it was not the diamond of your dreams? Does your fiancé know exactly how self-centered you are? The man has given you not only a symbol of his love for you, but one that expresses his family’s acceptance of you, as well. If they did not like you, they would not have handed down the heirloom ring to you. Does this mean anything to you? I am so disgusted right now I would paw-slap you if I had not recently discovered transcendental yoga! OHM!!! OHM!!!!



Okay, now that I am a bit calmer I will advise you not to tell your boyfriend that you hate the ring he gave you. I doubt that he would leave you over it – unless he is as shallow as you – but hearing this would break his heart.

If you cannot rise above your dislike of your engagement ring, I suggest that you approach his mother about it. Explain to her that you are unworthy of such a precious ring (because you are not worthy) and would feel more comfortable seeing her wear it as the rightful owner until the time to inherit arrives. If your fiancé’s mother is still young and healthy this should buy you a at least a few decades – if she agrees to take back her ring. Before you return the ring, you can explain your actions to your fiancé and request a modest engagement ring – not the $5,000+ rock you described! An emerald cut diamond is the priciest diamond cuts out there! The heirloom diamond that he gave you may not have cost him a dime, but it’s sentimental worth must be priceless. I hope that you will eventually come to understand this. OHM!

No snuggles for you,
Tazi


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

Friday, March 28, 2014

College Graduate Working As A "Specialty Janitor", Much To Mom's Dismay

Dear Tazi:

My son graduated college last month with a degree in Philosophy. His plan was to go on to law school, so this major made sense. Unfortunately for him, his grades fell short of gaining admittance into a top or second tier law school. He has been accepted at a few places of little note, without scholarship, which means I would be on the hook for his tuition. I told "Mason" I would not pay his graduate tuition (as I did his undergraduate tuition) until he showed he was willing to put in the work to improve his grades. He is planning to register for a few graduate level classes at the state university for the fall, and in the meantime he has taken a job at the only place that will hire him: a disaster clean-up company that cleans up the aftermath of personal tragedies.

My wife is mortified that our son is cleaning up what is left at home invasion and murder scenes, and busted crack houses. She wants to pay our son's law school tuition starting this fall. I say the unenviable work is good for him and will teach him that this is what he will end up doing for the rest of his life if he does not work harder in school. The job pays well and he is given protective gear to wear when he is on a clean-up scene, so I am not worried about his health, physical or financial. My wife, however, is worried about what people will think if they find out our son is working for a specialty janitorial service. I say hang what people think. What do you say, Tazi?

Signed,
Third Generation Ole Miss

Dear Third Generation Ole Miss:

Is your son a fourth generation at Ole Miss? Does the answer to this question have something to do with why your wife is willing to ignore his lackluster academic record? I realize that tradition runs deep down South, especially at places like Ole Miss! If your son is now an alumnus, people are going to be asking about him at the next class reunion or event. Are you prepared to tell your friends why your son is not in law school, as planned? I ask because it is apparent that your wife is not.



Personally, I think an education in the school of life is what your son needs. If he enjoys his job as a specialty cleaner and is able to support himself with the money he makes, and there is room for promotion, than I see no reason why your wife should be ashamed of what your son is doing. He is providing a valuable service that not many would be willing to provide. Furthermore, your attitude towards his Philosophy degree - claiming "the only place that will hire him" is short-sighted, considering the competitive economy we are currently experiencing.

If your son is embarrassed to be doing the kind of work he is doing, I suggest the following compromise: one semester of graduate level courses, which your son will pay for out of his own earnings. If he can prove that he is ready to make the commitment to graduate level learning, you and your wife can offer to pay for his continued schooling, provided that he maintain a minimum grade-point-average that you and your wife will set. Should his grades fall below the mark, he will be responsible for his own education expenses. I believe this is a compromise that all can live with, as well as one that will allow your son to prove his academic worth.

Snuggles,
Tazi


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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

There Is A Difference Between Secrecy And Privacy

Dear Tazi:

I have been dating my boyfriend for a year and a half now, and he is always keeping secrets from me!  "Joe" always goes out and doesn't tell me where he is going.  If I find out where he went it is because I asked, not because he told me.  I never know who he is texting or Facebooking on his phone - when I try to see he blocks the phone and tells me to cut it out, that I am invading his privacy.  I feel like Joe has two sides to his life; one that he shares with me and one that he does not.  I want to be part of his entire life, not just the parts he allows me to see.

Yesterday all [heck] broke loose and I am ready to end the relationship over his attitude.  Joe and I were hanging out when he got up to use the bathroom.  He left his phone behind, so I decided to check his text messages to see what he is hiding from me, but his phone was locked with a security code!  I see no reason why he has this feature, and I told him so when he got back.  Rather than give me an answer he demanded to know why I was trying to use his phone when I had mine with me.

I told Joe that I did not like that he keeps so many secrets from me and demanded that he let me see his call and text history.  He told me that he was not keeping secrets but that his phone history was a private matter and that I need to learn to trust him.  I told him to stop turning the issue into something that was my fault; that he is the one keeping secrets.  I gave him an ultimatum: his secrets or me.  He just stared at me, so I walked out before he responded.  Now I am wondering if I should call to demand his answer.

Signed,
Boyfriendless?

Dear Boyfriendless?:

There is a big difference between secrecy and privacy.  Secrecy is accompanied by feelings of guilt; fear that someone will find out what you are doing; and overly defensive behavior.  Privacy is a matter of respect for another's personal life.  For example, Joe should not have to tell you where he is at every moment of the day; nor should he have to tell you who he has been texting and what has been said.  If he is texting directly in front of you and ignoring you to have a text conversation with another this is rude, but it is still a private conversation.  If I were you I would worry if he left the room to talk or text; since he is doing it in front of you he is not keeping the conversation a secret, just private.

The fact that Joe is willing to tell you where he went after you discover that he went out tells me that he is not keeping secrets from you; rather, it sounds like you are insecure in your relationship.  Have boyfriends past cheated on you?  Has Joe ever done anything (within reason) to make you question his fidelity?  Joe could make more of an effort to make you feel like a part of his life, but trust me when I tell you that most of what he does when he is not with you would probably bore you to tears.  Do you really want to hear about his trip to the store to buy milk?  Or his text conversation with his best friend that consists of one word answers?

You were wrong to try and sneak a peek into Joe's call and text history; this is an invasion of privacy.  As for the security code on his phone, has it occurred to you that maybe Joe keeps sensitive personal information in there - like credit card numbers and other financial information?  Nowadays, a phone is a mini-computer; Joe is wise to keep a digital lock on it.

I think you should call Joe and apologize for issuing such an unreasonable ultimatum.  Explain to him that his behavior makes you feel insecure, and ask him to meet you halfway - you can work on your insecurities and he can work on opening up to you.  Relationships are about compromise; it is time the two of you start.

Snuggles,
Tazi

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

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Depression Has Many Symptoms, Is A Treatable Illness

Dear Tazi:

My life has not been all that great in this busted economy, so I have taken to imagining that my life is ten times better than it ever was. In the evening, when I return home from a job I hate to a small apartment I despise to microwave a frozen dinner (the only kind I can afford) I imagine that I am wealthy, without a care in the world. Since all of my problems could be solved if only I had more money, these fantasies take me away from the cares of my real life. I love my fantasy life, and up until now it has kept me going in my real life.

A few months ago, my boss told me that she would be transferring to a different office and that I would have a new supervisor come summer. I like my old boss, and would have followed her to the out of state office where she transferred, except that there were no openings that covered relocation and I do not have the money to relocate. Do you see what I mean when I say that all of my trouble could be solved if I had more money?

My new boss is awful. I can’t stand working for her. She has no respect for anyone but herself. She came into the office and tried to change how everything is done; the first thing she did was fire all of the non-union employees so she could bring in her own people. My office is now filled with new people who are not nearly as pleasant as my old co-workers. On top of it all, my new boss came to work when she was sick and I caught her cold. This is where my problems get worse.

Since I was too sick to go to work, my doctor gave me a note to stay home. It was so nice not to have to go to work, and since I get paid sick time it did not impact me financially. When I got over my cold, I didn’t want to go back to work, so I lied and told the doctor I was still feeling fatigued and he wrote me out of work for another week. When that week was up, I still did not want to go back to the office so I told the doctor I was still not feeling well enough to return to work. I have [private disability insurance] so I still have money coming in to pay my bills even though I am not working.

My doctor has run all sorts of tests for various illnesses, from chronic fatigue syndrome to mono and all have come back negative. I don’t know how much longer I can stay out of work on medical leave, but the thought of going back leaves me feeling very depressed, especially since I have crawled further and further into my fantasy world since being home all this time. I have started to look for a better job, like I had before the economy went sour, but I am not having much luck. Can you think of any illnesses that I might ask my doctor to test me for, to keep me out of work just a little bit longer? Maybe until I can find a better job?

Signed,
Paradise Lost

Dear Paradise Lost:

I think you might be suffering from a very real illness called clinical depression; if your doctor has not had you screened for it yet I suggest you come clean to him and ask for a referral to a mental health professional.

While having a fantasy life is not uncommon and is actually a healthy way to deal with life’s everyday stresses, regressing into that fantasy life at the cost of living your own reality is not healthy. Your life does not sound very enviable, but pretending to be sick in order to remain out of work on leave is not going to improve your prospects at all. What is worse, and extended illness could actually hurt your chances of finding a new job, should your current employer report on you when called for an employee reference.

If you are suffering from depression there are medicines and counselors who can help you to overcome the symptoms and help you to function outside of your fantasy world. By following a prescribed medical plan, you will be able to work towards making your fantasies a reality – but you have to take the first step and get tested! Depression is a treatable illness. You will not be sent back to work right away, and your bills will be covered by your medical insurance. Since depression is a documented disability, your private disability insurance should cover you while you work towards recovery. I know it is hard, but once you find the courage to do the right thing things will get easier. Please write back in six months or so to let me and my readers know how you are doing!

Snuggles,
Tazi

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



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

FOX News Is Bad News For This Marriage

Dear Tazi:

My husband is a huge fan of FOX News. I am not. I also cannot respect his decision to get his news solely from a source that studies have shown makes people dumber. I have asked my husband to make our couple time a news-free zone - meaning that when we are both home, the television news is not on, and the Internet is not open to any news site. My husband has refused me this simple request, and has instead accused me of being "brainwashed by the liberal media".

My problem with FOX News would not be so bad if my husband did not prattle on about every single thing he hears on that station, insisting that all of the other news stations have their facts wrong and that only FOX News is correct. It has reached the point where I cannot read a newspaper in peace because my husband will argue that the local (and national) papers probably have the stories all wrong, and have added their "liberal slant to the facts".

Tazi, I am a woman of moderate to conservative political views, but my political views do not color every aspect of my life! I enjoy hearing and reading about stories of human interest, local activities, sports, recipes, etc. My interests are well-rounded, while my husband's are becoming more and more polarized the more he watches FOX News. We are fast reaching the point where we have nothing in common, and I am afraid that FOX News will be leading us to divorce court. Short of following through on my threats to leave him, how can I make my husband see this?

Signed,
Turned Off

Dear Turned Off:

To clarify, studies have not shown that watching FOX News makes people "dumber". Watching FOX News has not been shown to affect a person's IQ one way or another. Studies have shown that watching FOX News makes a person less well-informed, and that FOX News had the least accurate reporting of any major news channel, which would in turn affect a person's knowledge of current events.

A 2005 study by the non-partisan Pew Research Center showed evidence of why FOX News may be affecting your marriage for the worse. The study showed that people who watched CNN "prefer news that has more in-depth interviews with public officials" while the FOX News audience prefer "news that shares their personal views" and were "less likely to follow stories that are critical of the Bush administration". While you enjoy news that offers a broader view of the world and in-depth coverage of various aspects of life (from sports to recipes) your husband's world is shrinking to focus solely on the political. Making his view of the world an even narrower one is the evidence that the political views expressed around him must agree with his own. This simply is not a healthy way to go through life.

The question you need to ask yourself is if your husband has always been like this, with FOX News giving him a like-minded outlet, or has he changed since he started watching FOX News? Was there some sort of precursor that occurred to interest him in FOX News over other media outlets? Once you know the answers to these questions, you will be get to the root of the issue at hand: who is this man to whom you are married?

I do not like to advocate divorce, and I will not advocate it here. Rather, I will suggest marriage counseling. If your husband refuses to go, go alone - but let him know that you are going, and tell him that your marriage is in a precarious spot. If, in time, he still refuses to talk to a counselor (or clergy) with you about the state of your marriage than it would seem that his decision not to work on your marriage is made. At that point, only you can decide if you want to stay in a union where you are the only one doing the necessary work to keep it alive.

Snuggles,
Tazi

Citations:
Morris, J. S. "The Fox News Factor." The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics10.3 (2005): 56-79. JSTOR. Web.

Adler, Ben. "It's Official: Watching Fox Makes You Stupider | The Nation." It's Official: Watching Fox Makes You Stupider | The Nation. The Nation, 21 May 2012. Web. 1 Feb. 2014.

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


Monday, March 24, 2014

Husband Prefers Cash - And A Second Job To Get It

Dear Tazi:

I am devastated; certain that my husband of five years is ready to leave me, and don’t know what to do or where to turn. When I was a teenager, I would cry out my problems to Butterball, my cat, but Butterball died years ago. A friend showed me your column; so here I am, writing to you.

This past fall “Zach” told me that he wanted to join an after-work fantasy football league with some friends, at a local pub-style restaurant. They would meet one night a week after work – a guy’s night out kind of thing, and then at someone’s house to watch the games on the weekends. I thought this was a great idea, since Zach works very hard and deserves some down time with his friends.

Zach is horrible when it comes to balancing the checkbook or paying the bills on time, so he gladly handed this responsibility over to me when we got married. Since both of our checks are direct deposited, neither of us actually cashes our paycheck. In order to avoid multiple ATM receipts that could easily get lost or go unrecorded, we each get a small amount of cash at the start of each pay period, and load our Dunkin’ Donuts pre-paid cards online at the same time; we also use pre-loaded gas cards to fill up our vehicles and pre-paid Wal-Mart cards for our store purchases. In this way, we have managed to save money by not carrying cash and avoid expensive overdrafts on our checking account. I have started to budget additional $50 cash for Zach each week, so he has enough spending money to cover his night out – dinner, a few beers, and a round of drinks for him and his buddies.

Now that football season has ended I expected Zach’s nights and weekends out would slow down until next year, but they have not. Zach continues to be out of the house one night a week and on weekends. I asked him how long the league would be continuing – figuring he would surely be done by the Super Bowl – and he told me that the league will continue year round; that a baseball fantasy league is starting. This sounded plausible, so I dropped the subject.

Last night, I went out to pick up a few items at the convenience store, and almost died of shock when I saw that Zach was the cashier! I marched up to the counter to pay for my things and Zach pre-empted my anger by telling me that he was on the clock and we could discuss things when he got home. As it turns out, Zach has not been going out with his friends a few times a week – he has been working part-time at the convenience store!

When I asked Zach why he would deceive me – first lying about his whereabouts and then taking the extra cash each week – he told me that “a man doesn’t feel like a man without money in his pocket”. Between what he makes at the store and the extra money from our budget, he is carrying around an extra $150 a week! How much money does he need to feel like a man? When I mentioned to Zach that we have budgeted enough money for him to carry around, he gave me a withering look and said, “I’m not a child; I shouldn’t have to ask for my allowance”.

Tazi, what does all this mean? I have never made Zach feel like a child! I only take care of the finances because he won’t, and I receive my share of personal money on the same schedule as him. I asked Zach if he is seeing another woman and spending the money on her, which he denied. I asked him if he was saving up to leave me, but he said no to that, too. I want to believe him, but I can’t. Why else would my husband do this to us, Tazi?

Signed,
Not Broke, Just Brokenhearted

Dear Not Broke, Just Brokenhearted:

Jerry Seinfeld once did a monologue about the difference between how men and women act at the store when paying for something by check. Seinfeld compared a woman with a checkbook to a cowboy and his gun – she will whip that thing out and put it to work without missing a beat. A man, on the other hand, will sheepishly pull out a check and tell the cashier that he doesn't have any real money on him, but if you take this piece of paper to the bank, those people will give the cashier money on his behalf. When you put it that way, it makes paying by check sound pretty lame. Seinfeld recorded that bit back in the early ‘90’s, before pre-paid cards were in existence  but it could be that Zach feels the same way about using a plastic card to pay for his $1.50 tab at the coffee shop.

The fact that Zach felt strongly enough about having cash in his pocket to take on a second job speaks strongly to the lack of communication in your marriage. Has Zach been spending the extra $150 a week that he has in his pocket, or is he saving it? If he is spending it, on what is it being spent? Does Zach have a gambling problem, drinking issue, or other expensive issue that he is keeping from you? If Zach is saving the money, for what reason? Is he planning a large, expensive purchase that would otherwise not fit into your budget?

Your husband’s response to you – that a man needs money in his pocket to feel like a man – tells me that he needs to be more involved in your bill paying and budgeting process. Just because you handle this responsibility does not mean that he should be excluded from it completely; doing so has made Zach feel like a child asking his Mommy for his weekly allowance. This is not healthy from any perspective.

My larger concern for your marriage is that your husband felt that he had to go behind your back in order to have money in his pocket. You may not realize it, but you could be exerting too much control over your joint finances. (Pre-paid cards for almost everything?). While your system may work for you, it is clearly not working for your husband. I suggest that – together – the two of you figure out how much money Zach needs each week for his expenses, and give him that money in cash, not on a pre-loaded plastic card. Stop giving him the extra $50 for going out, since he obviously is not, and if he wants to keep his second job for extra spending cash let that be his business. However, if he runs short of cash because he is spending more now that he is carrying more do not allow him to break your budget by giving him more money.

Many couples keep joint accounts for bill paying and savings, which is where they keep the bulk of their money, and separate, smaller individual accounts for their personal spending money and savings towards extravagant personal items. Perhaps the time has come for you and Zach to consider this idea for yourselves. This idea would require Zach to keep track of his own banking records, but then that might be just what he needs to feel more like a man.

Snuggles,
Tazi


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


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Repost: Tazi's Corner: Issue #6: Thoughts On Reading (Part II)

Hello, readers, and welcome to another edition of

Tazi's Corner
Life As Your Pet Sees It!

This week I present Part II of my thoughts on reading! Why the split piece? Because I know that attention spans can be short and when blogs are too long people lose interest - so I decided to take my cue from Quentin Tarantino a la Kill Bill and cut the blog into two parts!

In my meanderings for Part I of this topic (found in last week’s Tazi's Corner column), I found the Random House Publishers Collection of Must Read Books, which I also found to be rather pretentious. I am not saying the books on it were not excellent choices; but it was rather predictable with choices like Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five (#18) and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (#64). Maybe I am biased...I used to know a pretentious blowhard who said those were his favorite books; but the fact remains that these books are what are referred to a “serious books”, as if a Writer (with a capital W) is only a writer (with a lower-case w) until he or she has published one, and until then they will only be a producer of pulp – interesting but unmemorable. I find this thought unacceptable! Jaws is not what I would call a “serious” book but it is definitely worth reading (just not on the beach) and is most certainly memorable. In fact, it makes my personal list of classic books, along with Mario Puzo’s The Godfather (yes, it was a book before it was a movie).

I have decided to add my paw-print to the numerous online lists of literary classics by adding my own right here. In no particular order after the number one spot, I present

Tazi’s List of 39 Must Read Modern 
(and Not So Modern) Classics! 

Please feel free to add suggestions of your own to bring the list to a less random number:

1. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee


2. Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns
3. Brothers and Sisters, by Bebe Moore Campbell
4. Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, by Bebe Moore Campbell
5. The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
6. Jaws, by Peter Benchley
7. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
8. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
9. The Lord of the Rings (complete trilogy), J.R.R. Tolkien


10. It, by Stephen King
11. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare*, by William Shakespeare**
12. The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe, by E.A. Poe
13. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
14. Treasure Island, by Robert Lewis Stevenson
15. A Christmas Carol (annotated edition), by Charles Dickens
16. Le Comte De Monte Cristo/The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas 
(English translation or original French)
17. Le Fantôme de L’Opéra/The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux 
(English translation or original French)
18. Le Petit Prince/The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery 
(English translation or original French)
19. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (aka Philosopher’s Stone, U.K. version), by J.K. Rowling
20. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
21. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
22. Sula, by Toni Morrison
24. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
25. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett
26. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
27. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg
28. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving
29. Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes
30. All the President’s Men, by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward (non-fiction)
31. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote (non-fiction)
32. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
33. Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White (read it aloud to a child!)

If Wishbone can pull off this gig, so can we!

34. The Cider House Rules, by John Irving
35. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (It was a book first? INCONCEIVABLE!)
36. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
37. The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin
38. The DaVinci Code (fully illustrated version), by Dan Brown
39. And Then There Were None (Ten Little Indians, U.K. version), by Agatha Christie

Apologies to Derek P. of South Carolina for leaving Hollywood Wives, by Jackie Collins, off of this list.

Snuggles,
Tazi

*Contrary to the title, it is not all of the works of William Shakespeare
**Some contend that Sir Francis Bacon deserves author credit for this selection


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

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Child Needs To Learn The Cost Of Living Before Foisting It Upon Others

Dear Tazi:

My Dad is SO CHEAP! 

During the summer, when the house is like an oven, he refuses to turn on the air conditioner.  He says fans and open doors provide enough of a cross-breeze to offer relief and that the human body can self-regulate its temperature. 

During the winter, when it is freezing, he refuses to turn on the heat.  He tells me that cold is relative and that if I run outside without a jacket on the house will feel quite comfortable.  He tells me to put on a sweater or wrap up in a blanket.  I’d rather freeze than look like a tool.


I have asked my Mom to talk to Dad about putting the thermostat at a more comfortable temperature, but she tells me that “climate control is expensive and we are not made of money”.  Freezing to death or dying from heat stroke is expensive, too.  What do you suggest I tell my parents to get them to understand that that they are being a couple of [insult deleted]?

Signed,
Never Comfortable

Dear Never Comfortable:

I suggest you tell your Mom and Dad that from now on, in order to facilitate your greater comfort at no additional expense to them, that you will be paying the difference in the energy bill every time you mess with the thermostat.  After one month you will find that the cost of a sweater or a blanket is costs far less than the additional oil/electricity/gas that you use to heat or cool the house to your comfort level. 

I am serious.  And I have nothing more to say.

No warmth-providing snuggles for you,
Tazi

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

Friday, March 21, 2014

Possibility Of A Pregnant Matron Of Honor Not An Option

Dear Tazi:

My sister got engaged last Christmas and is planning to be married this coming February - exactly one year from now. She told me that she would like me to be her Matron of Honor, but only if I am not pregnant at the time. She said she does not want a “large looking” honor attendant, especially since all of the other women she has chosen are quite petite, just like her.

Tazi, my sister’s words cut me to the bone! My husband and I have been married for three years and have been trying to conceive for the last six months, with little luck (I did conceive, but lost the pregnancy within the first month). Essentially, my sister has asked my husband and I to put our plans for a family on hold to suit her wedding plans. I have not told my husband of her request, nor have I given my sister an answer. Obviously, I would love to stand up for my sister on her wedding day, but not at the expense of my own marriage. Can you think of any way to get my sister to agree to a compromise on this matter?

Signed,
Hopefully A Mother-To-Be

Dear Hopefully A Mother-To-Be:

Was your sister drinking at the time she made this insulting condition a part of her request that you be her Matron of Honor? Honestly, that is the only reason I can think of as to why someone would think they should have any say in another woman’s fertility. As a married woman, one who is actively trying to conceive, your sister has to understand that a pregnant Matron of Honor is a very real possibility. If this is something she simply cannot get past than I am afraid you will have to tell her that you cannot accept her conditional offer – that she accepts you as you are (pregnant or not) or finds someone else to be her Honor Maid/Matron.


If this is acceptable...

Surely this is, too?

If your sister is open to compromise – and she has some very understanding friends – there is one possible solution in the form of a back-up plan. You could agree to stand up for your sister as her Matron of Honor so long as you are not pregnant/not showing and have another woman agree to be the back-up Maid/Matron of Honor if you are expecting and showing by her wedding day. This idea means investing in a dress that you might not end up wearing, and just suggesting this idea leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but you asked for an idea on how to compromise so I am providing one that your sister might agree to let happen.

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. I am hoping that as her wedding date draws closer Bridezilla steps down off of her high horse and realizes what a horse’s behind she is being. I realize that the woman I am speaking of is your sister, so I am being as nice as possible!


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

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Post-College Job Search Must Be Focused, Realistic In Order To Be Effective

Dear Tazi:

I graduated college last May and, in spite of looking for a job all summer and through the winter, I have still not found work.  My degree is in Communications, and I noticed that your Mommie also has a degree in Communications.  I was wondering if I am somehow looking for the wrong type of work and how long it took her to find a job using her degree.

I will admit my grades were not the best, and that I partied a lot in college, but now that my student loans will be coming due any day now (my six months post-graduation plus my six months unemployment deferments are almost up) and I am ready to get serious about my career.  It is too late for me to take an unpaid internship to get some experience, and I don't have the money to look for work beyond my local area.  Moving away is out of the question unless the company is willing to pay my relocation expenses.  Overall, I realize that this does not look good, but I am getting desperate and will take any job that pays at least $22.50 an hour - that's what I need to pay my rent, car insurance, student loans, and other expenses.  So, do you know where I should be looking and for what kind of job I should be looking?

Signed,
Jobless

Dear Jobless:

I admire your grammatical skills!  Yours is one of the few letters that did not require me to make any corrections!  I am simply purring with joy over the fact that, in spite of your partying ways in college, you did manage to learn something (even if your grades do not reflect it).  Have you considered working as a Proofreader?  It's no $22.50 an hour, but it is a foot in the door!

I hate to burst your bubble, but if you are looking to make at least $900/week ($22.50 x 40 hours = $900) you are probably going to be working two jobs until you have enough experience to command such a salary in these difficult economic times - especially since your job search is limited to such a small geographic area.  [Ed. Note: For privacy reasons, the writer's location has been omitted, but suffice to say s/he does not live in a large metropolitan area where larger salaries are commonplace]. Without a history of internships or any experience whatsoever, it is doubtful that a company will be willing to pay to relocate you.

Communications is a broad field, so it depends on what concentration you studied as to what jobs would be an appropriate fit.  If you concentrated on Broadcasting and Media, try for opportunities to work behind the camera or on the technical side of the business. On-camera positions are few and far between, but if you can gain experience and start developing a portfolio of your work by volunteering with a local cable-access show you can gain valuable experience in front of the camera.

If you concentrated on Interpersonal Communications, than Marketing, Public Relations, or even Anthropology/Intercultural Relations are areas where you could find your career.  Many large corporations have departments dedicated to these skills in order to improve their marketability in the world.

Other concentrations include Advertising, Business Communications, Speech Pathology (which requires a graduate degree to work in the field), and Interpretation.  Do you know American Sign Language?  If you are fluent, your skills will be in high demand in the courts and possibly in educational realms.  If you concentrated on business and/or advertising, your best bet may be to start out in Sales and work your way up from there into Advertising Design or Management.

If you have no specialized skills whatsoever, I have to wonder exactly what you spent the last several years studying and suggest that you learn some secretarial and computer skills if you do not have them already.  Executive Assistant positions are often hard to fill due to a lack of qualified candidates.  These are not your run-of-the-mill data entry, Receptionist, or secretarial positions and require a great deal of vocational abilities as well as professional Communications skills.

As for how long it took Mommie to find a job in her field, I believe it was three months.  She took an entry level position in the advertising firm that brought Ginsu knives into American homes...and charmed one of the partners by doing a perfect imitation of the commercial's voice-over artist.



Snuggles,
Tazi


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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Careers Of Others Are Not Always As Easy As they Appear

Dear Tazi:

I don't see what a big deal a college degree is.  A lot of the jobs I see out there are things I could do. All they require is common sense and on the job training.  I get so aggravated when I apply for a job, like Accountant or Marketing Manager, and get told I need a degree to handle the position.  They don't even ask me what I know!  They just assume because I don't have a degree I don't know how to do the job.

The last job I applied for was to be a Proofreader for a local newspaper.  I figured there is a job anybody can do, looking for spelling mistakes and make sure the writing makes sense.  But no!  I was told that I need at least TWO YEARS of college, preferably a four year degree in English, Communications, or a related field.  The job doesn't even pay that much!

I just feel like I am damned if I do and damned if I don't go to college.  I don't see why I should have to invest as [censored]-ton of money into a degree just to prove I can do a job.  Can you think of any way I could prove myself to employers without a college degree?

Signed,
Separated From Work

Dear Separated From Work:

Let me first explain to you why you do not qualify to work as a proofreader: It is improper grammar to end a sentence with a preposition.  You have no idea how mad it is driving me to ignore your grammatical errors, of which there are (a few) more.  I usually correct such mistakes before publishing, but I am leaving yours in to prove my point.  As for thinking that you do not need a degree to be an Accountant, I have to ask; where in the world is your head?

Nowadays, positions in fields such as Accounting, and even Marketing, require a high level of technical understanding with regard to business.  An Accountant does more than math; an Accountant must understand and know how to apply the various financial laws that will affect his or her clients' business, as well as the ins-and-outs of economics.  Accounting is so complicated that it is making my little kitty head spin!

Plus, there's this...

As for your jab at the field of Marketing, the position of Marketing Manager often requires a Masters degree in the field; an understanding of the economy, as well as the various needs of potential clients; and the ability to predict what will work and what will not work based upon the psychological, political, and cultural makeup of the target audience.  There is so much that goes into this type of job that I will probably sprain my brain trying to find a way to explain through your ignorance.

I can see your frustration.  You are looking for work, and not finding it; however, you are not going to find work if you keep applying for jobs for which you are not qualified.  If you want to prove to employers that you are able to do a job, I suggest you find an organization that could use your volunteer services.  While volunteering, get to know the people who do the jobs you would like to do yourself.  You will be able to see all that goes into doing the job right, and you will be able to see if it is something you can do, as well.  I think seeing the work performed first-hand will change your point of view.  If, on the other hand, you can do the job sans degree, ask your supervisor for a letter of recommendation to give to employers.  This may change their point of view.Recent studies have shown that a stellar recommendation trumps a stellar resume 90% of the time.

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S.  Some career counseling may help you match your natural strengths to your career interests!

Ed. Note: Today's column is dedicated to the amazing Kate Fish, Forensic Accountant and future FBI Agent, White Collar Crime Division!  Good luck in your new job!

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

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It's Never Too Late To Apologize For Bad Behavior

Dear Tazi:

I am an idiot. No, I am a jerk. No, I am an idiot and a jerk! Several years ago I allowed an amazing woman to walk out of my life because I was not ready for a relationship and wanted to play the field. I grew up with "Alexandria", and never forgot about her because we live in the same parish so I see her around every now and then - at the grocery store, the Post Office, and other places like that; sometimes, I even go to church because I know that she will be there. This is how I know that she has been happily involved with someone for the past four years.

When I first heard that Alexandria was seeing someone, I was happy for her - and relieved that she had moved on with her life after I broke her heart. It wasn't that I didn't have feelings for her; it was that I wasn't ready to settle down with one woman. I was only thirty and still enjoying playing the field, while she wanted someone more serious. I am now thirty-eight and playing the field has lost its charm. Yes, there were women out there who were younger and prettier than Alexandria, but they all expected me to take care of them - from buying them their every drink from the moment I meet them to buying them expensive jewelry for every holiday. Alexandria used to tell me that a gift of jewelry is a sign of a serious commitment, and I am starting to feel the same, now that I am older, which is why I have bought a diamond tennis bracelet for her.

I realize that Alexandria is with someone, and I am not trying to tempt her away and back into my arms; I just want her to know how important she is to me and that I have finally seen the light - that a good woman is hard to find. I want to tell her that I was an idiot to let her walk away and that I am a jerk for walking all over her feelings all those years ago. I want her to know that, come what may, she will always hold a special place in my heart.

My mother has accused me of trying to start trouble for Alexandria, of going back to the roots I tried to poison, now that I am old and washed up. My sister has reminded me that Alexandria would probably refuse the bracelet anyway, and that I should return it while I still have the receipt. While Mama is wrong, my sister is probably right which is why I was wondering if you think it would be okay to put the bracelet - along with an anonymous note - in Alexandria's mailbox, where she is bound to find it.

Signed,
Lovelorn in Louisiana

Dear Lovelorn in Louisiana:

Were you drunk when you wrote this letter to me? It has been eight years since you broke up with Alexandria! She has been in a serious relationship for four - which, incidentally, does not mean it took her the prior four years to get over you! While an apology for past bad behavior is never the wrong thing to do, you appear to be moved by the wrong motivation.

If you truly care about Alexandria - as a childhood friend or as something more - you will leave her be to move through life without you. Your idea of leaving her a diamond tennis bracelet in her mailbox reeks of stupidity. For one, it is a rarely prosecuted Federal crime to leave anything but duly posted U.S. mail in someone's mailbox. Second, how anonymous would your note actually be, and what affect do you think it would have on her current relationship?

I suggest that you return the tennis bracelet, while you still can, and forget about your plan to woo Alexandria. Next, I suggest you stop going to church in order to stalk this woman! While many couples have met during church, services in the Lord's house are not Match.com events! If you are sincerely called to attend mass, do so out of humble piety...and then after mass you might want to approach Alexandria and apologize for past wrongs against her. You don't have to give a sermon to her, just ask for her forgiveness for the bad blood you feel between the two of you. You may be surprised to discover that she has forgotten all about it and put it behind her years ago.

Snuggles,
Tazi


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




Sunday, March 16, 2014

Repost: Tazi's Corner #36 - Tazi Recommends Some Cultural Blogs


Dear Readers:

As I am sure you all know, tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, but did you know that Wednesday is another Feast Day dear to the hearts of my hometown: St. Joseph's Day! Being from a city that has both strong Irish and Italian roots, I am honoring both Feast Days today with the blog recommendations that I recommended last year. Both offer a rich and detailed view of the cultures and histories that are celebrated during these two holidays. Please take the time to check them out!

The Go Ireland Blog
the featured blog of GoIreland.com

offers so many interesting and informative blogs on a variety of topics - from political to human interest - that I could not resist. Featured for St. Patrick's Day was a blog on the health benefits of Guinness, which made such a strong argument I am thinking of asking my Mommie to pour some of hers in my water dish! Another blog of interest was done as a picture blog, with a poster graphic illustrating the theme 10 Irish Inventions That Changed the World. Raise your hand if you knew the Irish created chocolate milk? The blog is an offshoot of an Ireland Tourism website, so many of the blogs are primarily related to tourism and things to do in Ireland, but they feature some great pictures and offer an interesting view into the Irish culture and history (check out Historic Sites of Dublin or the 7 Wonders of Ireland to see what I mean!). The site is categorized with a table of contents running down the right sidebar of the page, so it is easy to navigate your way around the page and find exactly what you are looking for - from Irish Culture and Irish Food and Drink (including recipes) to Irish Geneology blogs that offer tips on how to trace your Irish family tree! Even if you are not Irish, there is something on the Go Ireland blog for everyone to enjoy and explore.

If Irish food and culture is not your thing, check out

The Italian Blog
by Daniele, Lori, and Jay


The authors are REAL Italians, who are from (and still live) in Italy! The blog is (mostly) written in English, so you do not need to speak the language to enjoy this blog. The theme of the blog is Italian culture - daily living, recipes, history, and holidays - told from the point of view of your average Italian citizen.

Hailing from one of the many Little Italy regions here in the United States but not actually being Italian myself (I am American Short-Hair), I found this blog fascinating! When I saw the headline "Not Only Mafia" I thought I was going to read an article dispelling the stereotypes of Italians pictured in The Godfather and Goodfellas, so I was surprised to discover it was an informative article on a museum in Calabria that is featuring the documentation of many other criminal enterprises that go under the radar, thanks to the focus on the mafia. The museum site is in Italian, but easily translated if you have Google Chrome.

In the blog post "Sometimes You Just Need to Be Hungry" the authors give a brief but hypnotic review of a little cafe in Siena. The description paints a picture of what it is like to spend the afternoon "among culture and art", seeking to wind down with a pleasant meal. Though short, the blog gives the reader a sense of what it is like to live in Italy and participate in their culture. As a cat, I have to say I am liking the relaxed atmosphere much better than the hustle and bustle of American living!

The Italian Blog will keep you occupied as you jump from the funny little jokes they post, like the picture and translation of a humorous Help Wanted sign they saw in a village near Torino to their praise of the coffee break, an apparent universal love of humans everywhere! I would suggest that you take a coffee break right now! You know the drill: Put down that Sunday paper (so kitty-cat can nap on it), grab a mug of your favorite caffeinated brew, and check out the Go Ireland blog and The Italian Blog. Consider it your daily dose of culture. You're welcome!

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. I also suggest another favorite of mine, Closet Cooking, which has been running Irish recipes all week. I am dying to try the Bacon-Guinness-Chocolate-Pancakes! Sigh...I can practically hear my arteries slamming shut!


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


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fan of Teen Dream Wonders If Her Development Has Been Arrested

Dear Tazi:

I am in my mid-thirties, and when I was young I was totally addicted to the Sweet Valley High books that all the girls would read. My childhood wasn't the greatest, by Sweet Valley standards - I wasn't popular, wasn't stand-out pretty, and wasn't rich - so I would escape into the world of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, fantasizing that I was one of their friends.

Over the years, my friends stopped reading the Sweet Valley books, but I never did. Even now, on a bad day, I will slip into my fantasy world of Sweet Valley High School and feel my stress melt away. My question is, am I normal? Are there others out there like me? Or am I, like my mother tells me, in need of therapy? For the record, I am successful in my career and happy with my life overall.

Signed,
Jessica's Biggest Fan!

Dear Jessica's Biggest Fan!:

Some people combat the stress of a bad day by drinking; others by abusing their loved ones, both physically and emotionally. These are the people who require therapy. As for whether or not you would benefit from a few trips to a counselor, ask yourself: Are you otherwise well-adjusted? Do you relate to others on an adult level? If you read for enjoyment, do you read age-appropriate materials? Do you understand that the standard of living in the Sweet Valley High books is completely out of touch with reality?

What '80's/'90's girl didn't LOVE Sweet Valley High?

If you were able to answer "yes" to all of the above questions, I would say that you are a perfectly normal, well-adjusted adult and that your mother has no reason to worry. If, however, you answered "no" to any (or all) of the above questions, it would appear that you are suffering from arrested development and a few sessions with a counselor could help you in overcoming whatever it is about the real world that is stressing you back to childhood.

Snuggles,
Tazi