Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tazi Recommends: I Heart Organizing

Dear Readers:

Welcome to the Repost of Issue #3 of "Tazi Recommends...". (in case you missed it the first time!). As usual, I recommend you put down the Sunday paper and read something else, because your cat and I plan on napping on aforementioned paper whether you are trying to read it or not! However, in my desire to be helpful, am willing to provide you with alternate reading matter. This week, the blog I recommend is:

I Heart Organizing

by Miss Jen from Wisconsin, USA

As a cat, I love an organized home. As a cat, I am not the one who has to do the cleaning and organizing; nor do I have to go around picking up after a litter of little ones who like to leave a mess in their wake. However, I can sympathize with those who do since I am the "little one" that my Mommie often has to cater to, cleaning my sandbox, organizing my toys, and keeping my feeding station sanitary. I just don't know how she does it all! I can only imagine what it would be like if she had kids, too!

I love I Heart Organizing for several reasons, but first and foremost is this: Miss Jen does not expect you to have the time, budget, or talents of Martha Stewart. As the Mommie of three boys and a career as an Interior Decorator, Miss Jen understands what it means to balance the duel responsibilities of career and family, and she writes from that perspective. This leads to the second reason I love I Heart Organizing: FREE organizational tools!

I Heart Organizing has an entire web-page dedicated to free downloadable printables that are suggested on the site. Unlike some organization magazines/sites that suggest projects for you to make (like you have the time?) I Heart Organizing has done the work for you - all you have to do is print the charts, tags, calendars, etc. and remember to use them. From "My Daily Goals" to "A Peek at the Week" each printable is brightly colored and provides ample space upon which to write...and cross out and rewrite as your schedule changes.

Also available for a nominal cost ($3.00 & up) are custom printables - pdf files filled-in with your personal information and needs (from calendars to pantry inventory/grocery lists). Normally, I do not tout for-cost products, but the beauty of this one is that you only have to pay once - for the pdf file - and you can print it out as many times as you would like, indefinitely.

I Heart Organizing offers regular tips on how to get - and stay - organized; how to make the best use of space; and how to declutter both your home and your life. I Heart Organizing also offers an entire project gallery of ideas, from simple to more complex on how to get and stay organized, from make-up storage (try a cutlery organizer) to an organized hand-me-down clothes storage cabinet

I Heart Organizing offers direction, pictures, and humor to help you get the job done at a minimal cost. Miss Jen and her ideas have been featured on daytime television's The Nate Berkus Show as well as various websites on simplicity and home improvement.

I recommend I Heart Organizing to anyone who needs to streamline their busy life - Moms and Dads, homemakers, students, at-home business people, party planners, teachers, and the like. The site is a fun place to visit if you need ideas, or just to laugh at some of the "fantasy" pics Miss Jen posts (which I would swear come from Better Homes and Gardens magazine!).

Snuggles,
Tazi

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Is Talking To An Ex The Same As Cheating?

Dear Tazi:

My girlfriend is the most amazing woman I have ever met. She is truly the type of woman that other guys remember as "the one that got away". Knowing this, I will admit that I can act a little insecure sometimes; but I think I am right on the point I want to make to her.

"Amy" does not realize how beautiful she is, or how outgoing she can be with people. Sometimes an old boyfriend will find her on Facebook and try to start up a conversation with her, either through wall posts or email. I have her password, and have seen these emails on occasion while checking her account for her (per her request; she cannot always get on the Internet at work). Her comments and messages to these guys are always polite and friendly, but I am bothered by the fact that she never mentions me. I feel like she is trying to keep me a secret from her ex-boyfriends and I think this is tantamount to cheating.

I would like to say something to Amy regarding these emails and comments, but I do not want it to sound like I don't trust her. I simply want to know point-blank if she is planning on leaving me should the right ex-boyfriend come along. How do you think I should phrase this? Is there a way to start this conversation that will not come off as accusatory?

Signed,
Mike

Dear Mike:

You write that you believe her lack of comments about you to her old boyfriends is "tantamount to cheating" but then say that you "don't want to come off as accusatory". Well, which is it? To say you see an innocent email conversation as a form of cheating is rather accusatory, especially since these emails are coming to an account that she knows you can check. Are you certain you have not overstepped the bounds of Amy's trust in you?

Obviously, you have read the emails Amy has sent and received to/from her old boyfriends and they must be pretty benign if you have not said anything to her already. Some people are not comfortable talking about a "current" with an ex, just as some people are not comfortable talking about an ex with their current partner. The beauty of Facebook (in this situation) is that much of your life's details are visible on your personal page - including your relationship status and the length of your relationship, should you choose to add that information.

It is possible that Amy did not feel it necessary to mention that she was "In a relationship" because this information is prominently posted on her Facebook page, complete with a link to your Facebook page, should you have one. To beat that dead horse might be taken as an insult by her old boyfriend, who himself might be in a serious relationship and honestly interested in catching up with an old friend, as happens frequently through Facebook.

I believe that you are making mountains out of molehills. Amy trusts you enough to allow you to read her personal email. If there was anything in there that she did not want you to see, she would not be letting you in there. From the volume of email I receive on the subject, I would say that Facebook causes enough relationship issues already. Please do not go borrowing trouble, or you may find your girlfriend leaving you for entirely different reasons than you fear.

Snuggles,
Tazi


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

Friday, August 29, 2014

Cancer Patient Wonders Why Friends Won't Help With "Bucket List"

Dear Tazi:

I have terminal lymphoma, which is cancer of the lymph system. My doctors have given me six months to live, which is something I have accepted. In fact, I consider myself lucky that the cancer I have is not one that will leave me in pain and debilitation. I have refused chemotherapy, which would extend my life by only a few months but rob me of my quality of life. I am at peace with my decision, and ready to do as the Tim McGraw song suggests and live like I was dying. I am receiving SSDI benefits, so I no longer work and have time to spend with my college-aged children. Death must come to us all; and I feel blessed to have such an easy sentence. My only problem is, none of my friends or family seem to have the time for me to do the things I want to do with them.

Every time I suggest we do something that I have always wanted to do - like go rafting, like in the movie Deliverance or try skydiving, they are always too busy. I always offer to pay their way, so it is not a matter of money; I cannot understand why they would turn down the opportunity for adventure with a friend. Short of reminding them that my time is short, how can I change their minds? I don't want to spend the last of my days sitting around waiting for death.

Signed,
Still Living

Dear Still Living:

You may be "still living" but it appears that you no longer have a life. Unlike you, your friends still have to go to work every day, care for their children, and maintain their homes; making their free time a precious commodity. While it is admirable that you are willing to cover the financial cost of the rather pricey activities you wish to try, more than money is involved. A Deliverance style canoe-trip involves a great deal of planning and covers an entire weekend, which is time many wish to spend with their children; plus it can be physically grueling. Even if others are up to the challenge - and they may not be - they may be concerned that that you are not. Others have a fear of heights or falling, and think it crazy to voluntarily jump out of a perfectly good plane.

Rather than trying to plan grand events with your friends, try for smaller events: a night out on the town or a field day in the park. For larger events, a travel agency can hook you up with a touring group that is participating in the things you want to try - like skydiving or canoeing down the Coosawattee. If you seek to make memories with those you love in order to preserve their memories of you, volunteering (alone or as a group) for Habitat for Humanity is a wonderful way to help others and leave a lasting legacy in your community, as is holding a clothing drive for a local charitable organization. Like the Tim McGraw song suggests in addition to grand activities, you can love deeper, speak sweeter, and give forgiveness that you've been denying.

I wish you a peaceful journey.

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, August 28, 2014

Sibling Who Received In Parents Lifetime Got Surprise Inheritance

Dear Tazi:

I was reading your letter about the man who was taking advantage of his mother’s generosity and it reminded me of my brother (who also liked to hang around the house naked). He is well into his forties and has spent his entire life chronically unemployed. He has had more jobs than he has had years of life, no exaggeration. Because of this, he has never had money to support himself and has never moved out of our parents’ house.

All of my life I have worked hard to support myself, so I resented the fact that my brother was sponging off of my parents. They were not rich, but were comfortable – they owned their own home (mortgage free); had money in the bank; and their investments were doing well. Whenever I brought up the topic of “Steve” to Mom and Dad, they told me not to worry; that the issue was between them and Steve, not me.

Last year, Steve and I lost Mom and Dad. Mom had cancer and went first; Dad had a heart condition, and losing Mom did not help it. He passed away less than six months later. At the reading of Dad’s will, I finally understood what Mom and Dad meant when they told me the issue of Steve was between them and Steve: they had kept track of every expense they covered for him, from car payments and insurance to the room and board he never paid. This information was kept on record with their accountant, and the total amount subtracted from Steve’s half of our inheritance. All Steve got was a 50% interest in our parent’s house; I ended up with their savings and investments, as well as my half of the interest in their house. Steve was livid, but Dad’s will was airtight – there was no way for Steve to fight it.

I am not asking for advice, but wanted to share my story with others so they may see the other side of the story. If it appears that Mom and Dad are favoring one sibling over another, don’t get all worked up over it. There might be a lot more to things that you do not know!

Signed,
Over It

Dear Over It:

I do hope that your parents at least hinted to your brother that the financial assistance he was receiving while they lived would be taken from his inheritance; otherwise, this must have come as a horrible shock to him. I do hope that Steve matures, now that his primary source of income has dried up; but I will not hold my breath waiting for this to happen. I will let your story serve as the “other side” you wish to 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.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Attractive Daughter Receiving More Attention Than Dad Would Like

Dear Tazi:

I am the father of a very attractive, very well-developed 16-year-old girl. As if my daughter's stunning good looks were not enough to worry me, she is also very popular due to her sweet personality and the many extra-curricular activities in which she participates in and out of school.

Her mother and I have worked to raise her right, and keep her on a moral path; and thus far, I'd like to think we have done a good job. My concern is her social networking habits. "Staci" has a habit of Facebook friending everyone she has ever met, and encourages people to "follow" her on Twitter. Even though she does not post too much personal information to these sites, she is fond of posting pictures of the many events she attends - school dances, football games, work sites for Habitat for Humanity (she volunteers with them one weekend a month). These pictures - aside from providing a permanent online record - give people details as to her whereabouts, making it easy for her to be found when she is offline.

As far as I am concerned, inviting someone to "follow" you is an open invitation to stalk you, and I am concerned that some of the boys she has "friended" are starting to do just that. In particular, one young man that she met at the beach this summer has shown up at every one of her school's events, and is now volunteering for Habitat. Although I admire his school spirit and commitment to helping those in need, I cannot help but think his motives have more to do with dating my daughter than with improving his chances of getting into a good college.

Staci's Mom thinks I am over-reacting, and has pointed out that our daughter is a very responsible young woman with admirable Internet habits. She has never given us an ounce of trouble; but it is not my daughter's behavior that concerns me - it is that of those who follow her, online and in person. Staci has a close (male) friend who she has known since babyhood and that I trust implicitly. She is like a little sister to him, and I would like to ask him to keep an eye on my daughter, and on those who are keeping their eyes on her. Would this request be unreasonable?

Signed,
Overprotective Dad?

Dear Overprotective Dad?:

First let me say that your daughter is a lucky young woman to have two such caring parents that balance each other so well. Keep up the good work!

I also have to say that your comment that inviting people to follow you on Twitter is an open invitation to stalk you is a bit extreme, especially since your daughter's postings seem pretty innocuous. [Ed. Note: The writer included a link to his daughter's social networking pages]. She is not updating her status every time she leaves a room, so it would be pretty difficult for someone to stalk her, considering she only updates her status twice a day (on average). Someone who is merely smitten with your daughter would probably be content to sigh over such postings; but a stalker would definitely seek more, and such behavior would be quite noticeable.

With regard to the boy who has suddenly developed a social conscience and a sense of school spirit, so long as his behavior does not escalate - and he is actively participating in the events and projects for which he has signed up - I see no problem with his intentions. Many men have gone to extremes in their attempts to court a lady; so be glad that this young man's attempts are resulting in a greater good.

As for asking your daughter's platonic male friend act as her bodyguard, this may not be necessary. If he looks upon your daughter like he would a "little sister" you can be certain that he is already keeping an eye on Staci, and on those who are keeping eyes on her. There is no need to formally request such protection.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gardener Is Pee'd-Off About Getting Pee'd On

Dear Tazi:

Since you are a cat, I think you can relate to my problem, if only from the other side of it. I keep a beautiful, three-season vegetable garden in my fenced backyard. I work very hard on it and in it to ensure the fruits of my labors are tasty and nourishing. I love gardening and am generally at peace whenever I am plowing my bare hands through the dirt. Herein lays my problem.

My next door neighbor has four indoor-outdoor cats that like to use my garden as their own personal litter-box. They jump the fence and do their business in my garden, burying the evidence of their visits in shallow holes they have dug. I find this evidence when I am weeding, and pick up a handful of it. I have tried wearing gardening gloves to cut down on the ick factor, but I find them cumbersome and uncomfortable.

I have considered sprinkling the ground with irritating toxins, but am concerned about what such poisons would do to my vegetables. I am at my wits' end, Tazi-Kat! Oh, and before you suggest that I talk to the neighbors, don't bother. I have tried, and it doesn't work.

Signed,
Tired of Being #$%! On

Dear Tired of...

Halloween is coming up, a time for pranks and trickery. Have you tried collecting the cat poop in a brown paper bag, putting it on your neighbor's porch, lighting it afire, and then ringing the bell before running? I am not endorsing anything so childish; I am just curious to know how low you would go to get back at your neighbors, considering that poisoning their pets was scratched due to potential harm to yourself.

One of the great joys in a cat's life is scratching, be it dirt or furniture, nothing gives us satisfaction like digging our claws into something soft and pliable beneath our paws - kind of like you feel about your garden, no? I am hoping this will help you see that you and the cats have some common ground other than your garden.

There are many natural, non-toxic remedies to keep these felines - and other creatures such as deer, rabbits, and even mosquitoes - from invading your turf.  One very inexpensive way of keeping kitties out of your garden – or anywhere else you do not want them – is to sprinkle red pepper flakes around the perimeter and throughout the area.  Cats have very a very sensitive sense of smell, and we do not like the spicy smell of hot pepper flakes.  If for some reason your neighbor’s cats don’t mind the smell, they will certainly mind the irritation to their paws and their tushies should they “go” where the flakes are spread.  Negative reinforcement is all that is required to make these cats find a new stomping ground. 

Come spring, you can plant marigolds around your fence and garden.  These flowers look pretty but stink something awful!  They are a natural deterrent to anything with a sense of smell, bugs included, which will cut down on your need for pesticides.  Hopefully, this will allow you and the neighboring felines to live in harmony.

Snuggles,
Tazi-Kat

Monday, August 25, 2014

Teen's Room Is Her Domain, So Remain "com", Mom

Dear Tazi:

My sweet, beautiful, talented, and pleasant daughter is driving me up a wall! Yes, she is a teenager. Could that have gone without saying? On most fronts, "Eleanor" is the perfect child - and I am not just saying that because I am her Mom! She stays out of trouble, dresses appropriately for her age, gets excellent grades in school, is involved in extra-curricular activities and sports, is popular without being a "mean girl", and even volunteers at the local animal shelter on Saturday mornings. In fact, it was she who suggested I write to you, and we have both agreed to abide by your advice.

My problem with Eleanor is her bedroom. It is an absolute pigsty, and this is in complete contrast to the rest of my home, which is neat as a pin. At any one point in time, half of her clothes are on the floor in what she calls "laundry piles"; I cannot see the top of her dresser for all the papers, books, and accessories littering it; her bed is never made; and I will not even begin to tell you about her closet, as mere words cannot describe the dumping ground that it is.

I realize that my daughter's busy schedule demands a great deal of her time and energy, so the last thing she wants to do when she gets home is clean; but her bedroom is just so far out of hand! The more I beg her to clean it up, the worse it gets. In spite of her protests that she is not, I think she is doing this to spite me. My daughter claims that it is her room and she should be able to keep it the way she wants; but I counter that it is in my house, and I want the room clean. What do you think, Tazi? Which of us is right?

Signed,
Debra the Harried Mom

Dear Debra-Harried:

I can understand your frustration completely! If it were up to me, my litter-boxes would be cleaned and freshened after my every use; whereas my Mommie feels that a once-a-day cleaning and sanitizing should suffice. This brings me to the detail that you left out of your letter: Is your daughter's room dirty? Not just messy, but dirty?  Does she leave dishes with food stuck on them lying around, or sticky glasses, or other things that would attract ants or other bugs? Does her room emit an unpleasant odor that is stinking up the rest of the house? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then she has crossed the line from messy to dirty and her room should be cleaned immediately for the health of the entire household.  Feel free to revoke her priviliges until this happens. 

On the other hand, your daughter's argument that her room is her personal space is a valid one. I realize that it is your house, but this one corner of it is space that you have given to her to have as her own. It is her personal domain; the place where she can decompress and "let it all hang out".  If she chooses to keep this space in disarray then she is the one who has to live in disarray, not you. If you cannot stand the sight of her mess, just close the bedroom door and pretend that it is not there. Sooner or later, she will get sick of her own surroundings and clean the place. She will also run out of clean laundry, and be forced to clean up the piles on the floor and organize her closet.   [One caveat: Do not allow her to burn candles, incense, or anything with a flame.  This could create a fire hazard].

You say that you "beg" her to clean her room. Are you sure that you are begging and not nagging? The two may seem similar, but to the person on the receiving end they are vastly different; and whereas the first will generally elicit sympathy, the second will result in your daughter stubbornly digging in her heels and refusing to clean just to spite you. Letting her be may result in her abiding by your wishes sooner, rather than later.

I realize this advice may be hard for you to accept, so I can offer an extreme alternative: embarrassment. The next time your daughter's friends show up at the door, invite them in and tell them that she is "up in her room" and send them in to see her. To a teenager, nothing is worse than the disapproval of their peers; so if her friends are horrified by the mess their reaction just might inspire her to turn into Martha Stewart.

Snuggles,
Tazi

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Repost - Tazi Recommends: Blossom Bunkhouse

Dear Readers:

Last week I poked a little fun at over-achieving moms and the amazing things they manage to do for their children - you might even say I was being catty; so this week, to make up for any hurt feelings, I am recommending

Blossom Bunkhouse
by Danielle

When I think of the over-achieving mom who will do anything for their children - including lasso the moon, because I am sure she has found a way to do it - I think of the mom behind Blossom Bunkhouse. I choose to recommend this blog over other "Mommy Blogs" for one reason: the blog is obsessed with The Elf on the Shelf. Anyone who can think of 101 Elf On The Shelf Ideas AND put their money where their mouth is by actually following through with those ideas in a recurring Elf On The Shelf Series that creates a huge mess with a ton of clean-up deserves a recommendation. My big Elf on the Shelf idea is to drag him under the bed and hide him with the rest of my collection of purloined items (and then blame it on the dog); Blossom Bunkhouse suggests #35: Sit [the elf] in shoe, holding shoe laces as if going on a sleigh ride. I suggest you make certain your cat has not barfed in said shoe first.


Picture courtesy of
Commissioned Comic.com

Blossom Bunkhouse tends to go overboard on creativity, but it is not always a bad thing. For example, it offers practical ideas like the "Never Miss A Dose Again" article which suggests you write a dosing schedule on the bottle of medication your child is taking, and check off when you give it to them. The blog even offers a picture showing how to do this, and it looks pretty simple! Pure genius! (I am a bit bothered by the fact that the author picked up this idea off of Pinterest, because her copyright policy requests that you do not Pinterest her stuff. It seems a little hypocritical to me).

A recent cool idea suggested - and the one that tipped my paw towards recommending this blog, in spite of the hypocritical Pinterest policy - is the Hockey Pucks on a Stick idea, perfect for a child's birthday party or a Stanley Cup Finals party (if you have not planned one by now, you had better get started!). The treats are basically Hostess Ding Dongs on a stick with a few creative touches added to complete the look. Blossom Bunkhouse is full of ideas for all levels of talent; however, some ideas require advance planning and special order of accessories - I offer as an example, Leg Lamp Cupcakes, an idea I have seen all over the Internet but never dreamed anyone would actually make. Kudos, Blossom Bunkhouse, for going the extra mile!


Picture courtesy of The Party Animal

If you are long on time but short on talent (Mom's everywhere are laughing at the "long on time" comment!) and you are the type of parent to let your child host a slumber party (more laughter), you could try your hand at creating Rice Krispie Treat Sleeping Bags (chocolate covering optional, and not for the talent-impaired). If you are feeling extra creative, you can shove your Elf on the Shelf into one of them. There - Idea # 102, courtesy of Ask Tazi! America's FAVORITE Advice Giving Cat!

In addition to creative projects, recipes, and household tips, Blossom Bunkhouse also does the occasional product review. I could not find one for a Snuggie (I like to crawl inside the sleeves), but I did find one for a similar, less embarrassing wrap-around warmer: The Wrap Trap. The author of Blossom Bunkhouse even posts a video of herself wearing a Wrap Trap, and I can tell you...it looks a lot better than the video I have posted below (because her video is copyrighted, and I did not feel like contacting her to ask permission to use it, I am posting this Snuggie spoof instead).


The one downside to Blossom Bunkhouse is that the author only posts 3 - 5 blogs a month, so if you are the type who hopes for/expects new content every week, you will be sorely disappointed. I am pretty sure the lack of regular content is because the author is busy actually doing all of the projects posted on the site. As for me, I will not be busy taking a nap for the next several hours. If you find your that you Snuggie has gone missing, I suggest you ask your Elf on the Shelf. I am pretty sure he's the one who took it.

Snuggles,
Tazi


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

Saturday, August 23, 2014

God's Gift To Women Needs To Be Returned For Exhange!

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I can't believe I am writing to a cat for advice, but since women all seem to be crazy about cats (you never hear about the "crazy cat man") I figured what the heck, right? I am a 43-year-old man, never married (by choice), father of one (also by choice). I work hard, make a good paycheck, and play hard as well. My looks have held up over the years, and overall I would say I am a choice catch for any woman.

My problem is that all of the women I meet seem to think there is something wrong with me because I have never been married. They are especially put-off when they discover that I was never married to my son's mother. Tazi, I was only with her because I wanted a child and she was willing to bear one for me. It was more of an arrangement than a relationship, and I feel that this is nobody's business but my own.  (In the end, it would not have worked anyway.  She never lost the baby weight; but she did lose the figure I loved, along with my interest).

As I mentioned, I am quite a catch, yet women my own age do not seem to realize this; and women who are much younger than me are either not interested (because I am "too old for them" or because I have a young son) or are only interested in my money. When I do meet a woman who meets my physical standards and is interested in me, I find out after only a few dates that she is vapid and self-absorbed; a total turn off, in spite of her hot looks and smokin' body. I guess what I want to know is what is it women want? And do I have to sacrifice looks in order to find someone with a quality personality?

Sign me,
Confuzzled

Dear...did you say "Confuzzled"? Can I assume that is a combination of "confused" and "puzzled", which are synonyms of each other? Oh, where does a kitty-kat start to explain?

As for - specifically - what women want, that I suppose is anybody's guess; but most will agree that what they do not want is a self-centered, middle-aged, man-child! Twice in your letter you mention that you are "a catch". If you are God's gift to women, I find myself hoping that He kept the receipt! Your arrogance rivals that of a cat!

You mention that you work hard, make a good paycheck, and play hard. I do hope that somewhere in between you make time to be a responsible and loving father to your son, and offer up a realistic portion of that "good paycheck" as financial support for him on a regular basis. Along those same lines, you never mention if your son's mother was aware that your relationship with her was just an "arrangement" or if she expected more of a commitment from you. The reaction you get from women is probably reflecting their doubt that she was on the same page as you when your son was conceived.

Women, like all humans regardless of gender, want someone who will treat them with respect. For a woman, this means not leaving her because her looks are starting to fade (in your eyes) or because she gained a few pounds over the winter or (in the case of your ex) has trouble losing the weight she gained after bearing your child. It means appreciating her inner beauty, as well as her outer beauty, and showing interest in her as an entire person, not just as a sexual creature. Perhaps a viewing of Jack Black's Shallow Hal will better illustrate this point for you. Remember that the package in the plain brown UPS wrapper often contains a wonderful surprise inside, while the most beautifully wrapped gift under the Christmas tree might just be a big box of socks and underwear.

--Tazi-Kat

Friday, August 22, 2014

Does "Ugly" Furniture Belong In The Man Cave? Readers, Share Your Thoughts!

Dear Tazi:

I am newly married, and I love my husband with all my heart; but I hate the furniture he brought into our marriage. "Derek" was a confirmed bachelor before he met me, and had a home that was all man - pool table, Foosball table, poker table, etc; as well as some pretty tacky looking furniture.

When we married, we sold both our houses and bought one that is "ours"; which thankfully has a finished basement with a large area that has been sectioned off as Derek's "game room". Most of his bachelor pad furniture is down there as well, with the exception of his upholstered New England Patriots recliner. It is the most hideous thing I have ever seen, and I am not just saying that because I am a Miami Dolphins fan. Unfortunately, this recliner is Derek's prized possession, and he insists on putting it in our living room. I have cried, begged, and threatened divorce proceedings; but he refuses to remove the chair from the living room, claiming there is no space for it elsewhere - with the exception of our bedroom, which I have already nixed.

Tazi, Derek has agreed to abide by the opinion of a neutral third party; which is why I am writing to you. Please tell me you agree with me that this recliner belongs in the man cave and not the living room!

Signed,
Marino Fan

Dear Marino Fan:

In what colors have you decorated your living room? New England Patriots red, white/silver, and blue are primary colors; and can tastefully blend with many colors (with the possible exception of pastels). Are you certain that your team loyalty is not causing you to tread upon your husband's wants? It can be difficult to go from owning your own home to sharing home ownership - and space - with another, so I suggest you reflect on why you feel so harshly towards this particular recliner.

My personal opinion is that a sport-themed recliner belongs in the game room or the man cave; but then my Mommie - who feeds me, cleans my sandbox, and makes certain all my needs are met - is a raging Green Bay Packers fan, and as of this writing she is still a little sore about their losing in the playoffs while the local teams sails off towards the Super Bowl. Therefore, I am not certain that my opinion can be considered completely unbiased. After all, I want to eat tonight.

Readers, what is your opinion? Click Here to see a picture (and ordering information) of the New England Patriots recliner, and leave your thoughts in the Comments section - or take the poll on my Facebook page! In which room should the chair reside?

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, August 21, 2014

Mother Needs Comfort, Not Scorn, Over Loss Of Her Adult Son

Dear Tazi:

I am so overwhelmed with grief and anger I do not know where to begin. Please feel free to edit my letter so it makes enough sense to publish, because what wish to say needs to be heard.

I am the mother of a gay son. At least, I was until he passed away from complications of AIDS last summer, at the age of 42. Up until that point I was also an active member of my church, but due to some of the comments I heard people making when they thought I could not hear I left and have not gone back. The words were varied, but the theme was the same: People who die of AIDS get what they deserve for living immoral lifestyles, and are unworthy of the rewards of Heaven or the forgiveness of the Lord.

"Larry" contracted his virus during a careless and promiscuous period in his life, and accepted the fact that his personal behaviors led to his failing health. By the time he passed, he had come terms with his shortened life-span, and welcomed death as a release from the pills and the pain. He was a firm believer in God and I know that I will see him again in Heaven someday. For him, death was not a punishment. However, for those of us left behind, it is a wound that will never heal. I would like to make that point clear to those who would judge others. Those who they judge do not have to hear the hateful words being spewed. It is the survivors who suffer.

Thank you for letting me have my say, Tazi.

Signed,
Missing My Boy

Dear Missing My Boy:

Your letter is both poignant and sincerely heartfelt, and I have printed it exactly as you wrote it. You have my deepest sympathies on your loss. In this day and age, there are few who have not witnessed or known someone who has had their lives touched by the specter of HIV/AIDS and the destruction it wreaks on individuals, families, and communities. You have my deepest sympathies on the loss of your son - and on the loss of your church community. I pray that it was only an ignorant few who felt the need to judge your son so, and not the voice of an entire faith community.

You are correct in saying "those who they judge do not have to hear the hateful words being spewed. It is the survivors who suffer" and it is my hope that all people will heed this thought the next time they seek to judge one who has passed. As for being "unworthy of the...forgiveness of the Lord", I would say that is not their decision to make.

Snuggles,
Tazi

I would like to dedicate today's column to the memory of a special friend of my Mommie. 831, JH. --TK

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Foot Odor, Nosy Co-Worker Make For Uncomfortable Office Environment

Dear Tazi:

I have a terribly embarrassing problem. I have horrible foot odor. Even though I wash my feet daily; wear thick, absorbent socks; and use powder to absorb any swear my feel still smell rank. It think it is very noticeable to others, even when I am wearing shoes, although no one has ever said anything about it - until now.

I recently started a new job, and the woman in the cubicle next to me must have a very sensitive sense of smell because she keeps telling me she smells "a dirty foot kind of smell" and that she cannot figure out from where it is coming. She has asked me if I can smell it, too, or if she is going crazy. Our co-workers say to ignore her, that she is always smelling something; but I can't help but wonder if she is smelling my feet. Should I say something? Apologize? Pretend not to notice? I just don't know what to do, Tazi!

Signed,
Smelly Paws

Dear Smelly Paws:

Have you talked to your doctor about this problem? Generally, foot and other body odors are harmless, caused by a combination of excessive sweating and the bacteria that feed on human sweat. If you have tried all of the over-the-counter methods to combat foot odor - such as Gold Bond medicated powder or Odor Eaters products for your shoes - and you are still not getting relief, perhaps it is time to try a prescription-strength deodorant and antiperspirant. I hear that Drysol - or any other brand of aluminum chloride hexahydrate (AlCl3*6H2O) based product - has a wonderful success rate for humans with your exact same problem.

In the meantime, if you are not comfortable revealing to your co-worker that you are the source of the foot odor, do not feel obligated to do so. The next time your co-worker complains, suggest that she try using a small, desktop air freshener to combat the offensive "phantom odor" that only she can smell. Soon enough your problem should be solved - and so, in turn, will hers - until she finds another smell to bring to the attention of everyone in the office.

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, August 19, 2014

Is An Online Affair Still Cheating?

Dear Tazi:

I feel like an idiot. I feel like I have been used. Worst of all, I feel like I have nobody to blame but myself. I know how you think that Facebook causes more relationship problems than any other social networking site, and you can add my story to that file.

I started dating "John" online about six months ago. (I have already changed his name, so please do not change it for me). He is an old friend that I found on Facebook, someone I have always crushed on. I saw from his page that he had a girlfriend and that they have been together for years so I asked him why they never got married and he told me it was because she was not ready. He did not offer any other explanation. At the time, he and his girl were going through a rough patch, and we started flirting online. I sent him some naughty pictures of myself, and he really seemed to like them so I sent him some more, figuring that sooner or later he and his girl would be breaking up and I would finally get a chance to date him in person.

This week, I went to John's girl's Facebook page because I saw on his page that she had tagged him in her status update. Her page isn't private, so I was able to see everything - pictures of them together, smiling and happy; love notes from him to her; and something that really steamed me, the status update where she tagged him. They had just returned from a romantic vacation to New England and she was bragging about how romantic he was. They did not look like a couple that was about to break up anytime soon.

I emailed John asking for an explanation, wanting to know why he went away on vacation with his girlfriend if things were so bad between them. He denied ever wanting to break up with her; said the "rough patch" only lasted a few weeks; and that he was an idiot to ever confide in me since it was obvious I took things the wrong way.

I want to send an email to John's girl (her address is listed on her Facebook profile) and tell her what a lying cheat her boyfriend really is, but I don't know if this will help or hurt my chances with John. What do you think I should do, Tazi? I know how you think honesty is the best policy. Should I be the bearer of bad news?

Signed,
Still Wanting Him

Dear Still Wanting Him:

You mention that you have been in an online relationship with John for six months. The fact that this relationship was a virtual one means it was never consummated, which means that as despicable as John's behavior was (accepting nude photos of another woman) it does not quite rise to the level of cheating, at least not in my book. What you have had with John is an affair of the heart, and from the sound of things it was pretty one sided. From what you write, it sounds to me like John is perfectly content to be with his current partner.

You ask me if it would be okay to email a woman you have never met - through Facebook - and tell her that her boyfriend of several years is a liar and a cheat. I think this is quite possibly the worst idea I have ever heard - even worse than the woman who wanted to marry a prison inmate. Here are the facts of the matter at hand:

1. John's girlfriend does not know you. Unless you have solid proof of illicit intentions - emails from John professing his feelings, naughty pictures of him, or anything even remotely questionable - this woman will have zero reason to believe you over John.

2. You say that John is an old friend that you have always "crushed on". Is this really how you want to treat an old friend? Yes, John was wrong to encourage you to send further nude photos of yourself, but you have to remember that the initial batch was sent unsolicited. It was you who pursued what you saw as an opportunity, not the other way around.

3. John does not sound interested in you as it is. Do you think destroying his relationship with a woman he obviously loves is going to improve your chances of landing him? If you answered "yes" to that question, slap yourself for me - it was rhetorical, and the answer is "no"!


I am getting a lot of mileage out of this pic lately!


I have re-read your letter a couple of times now, and from what you write it appears that all John is guilty of is grossly bad judgement in allowing an online flirtation to escalate. Since I know of very few men that would say no to receiving nude pictures of an attractive woman, I have to give John a pass on this one, regardless of my personal feelings on this matter. In my opinion, John has not cheated and any lies he has told have been lies of omission - because let's face it, what man is going to tell his girlfriend about something like this? It sounds to me that you are seeking my permission to seek revenge on John. Permission denied.

Perfunctory Snuggles,
Tazi



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

Monday, August 18, 2014

Proper Office Attire Can Make Or Break The Interview

Dear Tazi:

I am a recent college graduate, which is to say that I do not have a lot of money. My debts (student loans, credit cards) are high and my finances are low; so I do not have a lot of money for life’s necessities, and you can forget about the extras! I am looking for a full-time job in my field, and between my grades and my past internships my résumé looks pretty good!

I have been called in for several interviews, and have always worn my best suit, but apparently my best clothes are not good enough. I do realize my suit is not the latest fashion and my shirt and tie not the latest colors, but once I start making some real money I will be able to afford new dress clothes. Right now, I need someone to take a chance on me so I can prove that what’s underneath the suit is top-notch.

I don’t expect you to be able to offer me any practical advice, but I hope you will print my letter so that maybe the people who hire others will take into consideration that recent graduates have not yet had the chance to build up a 5-star wardrobe, but are willing to do so once they are financially able.

Signed,
More Gooch Than Gucci

Dear More Gooch Than Gucci:

Your situation is not an uncommon one, for graduates or others who are seeking employment after being unemployed for a stretch of time. I realize that you are having a hard time making ends meet, so if new clothes are an impossibility at this time there is not much you can do about it. However, you do not need to be buying Gucci to look good. JC Penney has some nice men’s clothing for not a lot of money. You do not have to go all-out in order to look good for an interview. A new shirt and tie combination will freshen up your look without busting your budget, and all you need is one – for the interview.

Once you have a job, you could budget money each week towards small changes to your wardrobe that will make a big difference in your look. If a new shirt and tie from JC Penney or Wal-Mart are out of your budget, and you are unable to attain a short-term loan from Mom and Dad to assist with these necessary costs, I suggest that you try to make do with what you have; sprucing up as much as possible for your interviews and making sure that you look professional – this means no sagging pants or un-tucked shirts. A professional wears his pants on his upper hip or waist, not “below the equator” as my Mommie’s college R.A. used to say!

You can also mention the elephant in the room when you are interviewing. Tell the Hiring Manager that you realize your wardrobe does not fit with the company image and that you will work to change that once you start earning a paycheck. As impressive as your credentials might be, the companies with which you are interviewing have a public image that they wish to represent. If your look does not meet that standard, you must let them know that you are willing to accommodate them if they are willing to give you a chance. Good luck and happy job hunting!

Snuggles,
Tazi

Post-publication P.S.: OMG!!!! Someone just told me what "gooch" means in today's slang! EWWWWWW!!!!!!

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

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Repost - Tazi Recommends: Kickin' It Old School

Dear Readers:

Are you a child of the '80's? Do you love the '80's? Are you so stuck in the 80's that you named your child Prince? Than you will want to visit the blog I will be reviewing today,

Kickin' It Old School
80's and More


I have no idea who write this blog - his profile tells me he is some married dude from Wisconsin, so as far as I am concerned this is the 5th best thing ever to come out of that state - right after the Green Bay Packers, beer, cheese, and That '70's Show. Kickin' It Old School offers some pretty amazing stuff that you won't find anywhere else - like actual interviews with real '80's celebrities; memory lane stuff like the Geraldo Rivera career killer that was Al Capone's empty vault; and those great, horribly awful, '80's commercials! (How many bikers do you know that dress like the Capitol One viking warriors?)

Whether your thing is a tribute to Freddy Krueger or a Top Ten List of Sidekick Characters from 80s Movies (be sure to check out Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli!), Kickin' It Old School has what you love about '80's pop culture. Here is where I stress pop culture; the closest thing to rap you will find on this blog is Will "The Fresh Prince" Smith's A Nightmare on My Street.

My one complaint about this site is the way it is organized: it needs work. Each blog is listed by the month and year in which it was written; meaning there are no title links to click on, so if you are looking for something specific you may have to do a little searching, but that's also a part of what makes this site so fun - searching through all the cheese that made the '80's so great. If you stop by Kickin' It Old School be sure you have a few hours to kill because the archives are extensive, dating back to January 2008. As a bonus, if Kickin' It Old School doesn't offer you enough '80's stuff, there is also a long list of blogs that are referenced throughout the site, so you can go directly to the source material. I'm telling you, this blog is stuffed fatter than a Thanksgiving turkey and it's full of all things '80's. So what are you waiting for? Don't make me go Rambo on you! Put that Sunday paper down and get on over to Kickin' It Old School! In the meantime, I'll be taking a nap on your stonewashed jeans (I mean your Sunday paper!).

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. Here is something you will not see on Kickin' It Old School but should! Enjoy!



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

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Perfection Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Dear Tazi:

I have a friend, "Martha", who is perfect in every way possible. Her house is always immaculately clean, her children perfectly poised, and her figure like that of a movie star. Martha's husband is equally good-looking, holds a very impressive job where he makes six-figures, and is as devoted a husband as I have ever seen. Meanwhile, I am 40 pounds overweight, my kids are forever getting dirty, my house looks like a tornado hit it, and my husband is just an Average Joe. I feel like Fred and Wilma Flintstone to Martha's Barney and Betty Rubble. The worst part is, Martha has never, ever given me a reason to dislike her. In fact, she is one of the sweetest people you would ever want to meet; always the first to lend a hand, or to compliment the work of others.

Sometimes, I feel like a horrible person for wishing SOMETHING bad will befall Martha - after all, into everyone's life a little rain must fall, right? Other times, I feel terrible about wishing ill on someone as nice as Martha. What is wrong with me, Tazi? I love my husband and my children, and I think I have a pretty good life...until I see all that Martha has, and find myself wanting more.

Signed,
Green-Eyed Monster

Dear Green-Eyed Monster:

From your signature, I believe you already know what is wrong: You are jealous of all that Martha has, and are thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Try to remember that the reason for that may be because that is where the cesspool is hidden.

Rather than concentrate on what you do not have that Martha does, why not try to concentrate on all that you do have? Your husband may be an "Average Joe", but is he dependable and loving and a good provider? What is so "average" about that? Your children may be "forever getting dirty", but that means that they are outside playing and having a good time, instead of sitting in front of the TV playing video games. As for your figure, are you unhappy with how you look? Or only how you look in comparison to Martha? You are correct in thinking that Barney and Betty Rubble were the more glamorous couple when compared to Fred and Wilma Flintstone; but Fred and Wilma were a great couple in their own right! (Remember, Betty and Barney were not without their own issues, having suffered infertility! Bam-Bam, you may recall, was adopted).

The next time you find yourself wishing something bad will befall Martha, try to remember all of the blessings in your life; and recall the story of Richard Cory, a poem by the New England writer (he was from Maine) Edwin Arlington Robinson. You will never know the full story of someone's life until you are able to walk a mile in their shoes. A little rain must fall into everyone's life, but there is a chance Martha received her share at an early age. Try to be happy for your friend's blessings, and I am certain she will count you among them. Good friends are hard to find, and even harder to keep.

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. For those who are interested, below is the poem I mention...

Richard Cory
by Edgar Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean-favoured and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good Morning!" and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich, yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine -- we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread,
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet in his head.



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

Friday, August 15, 2014

Differing Tastes, Parenting Styles Making Mountains Out Of Molehills

Dear Tazi:

I am the mother of a toddler. In a world full of violence, I would like to keep my child shielded from evil for as long as possible. I monitor what little television I allow "Eddie" to watch, keep educational DVD's on-hand for his entertainment, and do my best to limit his exposure to roughhousing that occurs on the playground and in other public areas. The one problem I am having is occurring in my own home, with my husband's taste in movies.

"Rick" has a preference for violent horror movies that turn my stomach. I refuse to watch the absolute garbage that he calls entertainment, and ask that he not view these materials during Eddie's waking hours. Rick feels that I am raising Eddie to be "a complete and total wuss", but has honored my request not to watch his gruesome movies when there is a chance Eddie could walk in on him, as he agrees that "R-rated" movies are inappropriate for young children. Because of this, Rick watches his movies late at night before bed. It can get rather late before the movies end, so Rick has developed a habit of simply turning off the TV and going to bed without taking his DVD out of the player.

A few nights ago, I went out with my girlfriends and left Eddie and Rick at home to have some father-son bonding time. Rick told me that they had watched some of Eddie's Baby Bumblebee DVD's and had a fun evening together before putting Eddie to bed for the night. I thought this meant that the Baby Bumblebee DVD's were the only thing viewed that night. I was wrong.

Eddie woke up in the middle of the night, upset that I had been out at bedtime, so I hugged and snuggled him; but he would not go back to sleep. I carried him out to the living room to view his DVD and was shocked to discover that my husband had left a Quentin Tarantino movie in the DVD player! My innocent child was exposed to machine guns, blood, and profanity! Thankfully, it was only a few seconds until I was able to stop the DVD and shield Eddie - who did not seem to notice what was going on - but the damage was done. Rick cannot understand why I am so angry with him! How difficult would it have been for him to remove his DVD and put our son's DVD back into the player?

Rick says I am over-reacting and being a control freak; I say that Rick is being a lackadaisical parent. My concern is making sure an episode like this never happens again. I am tempted to ban violent movies from our home, but Rick has already said he would not abide by such a rule. What is your opinion, Tazi?

Signed,
Concerned Parent

Dear Concerned Parent:

The issue at hand appears to be more than just a difference in opinion between you and your husband; but a difference in parenting styles. Your husband has agreed to compromise in order to balance his personal interests with the well-being of your child, and it appears that this dynamic has been working well. You mention that Rick has a habit of leaving his DVD's in the DVD player; have you developed the habit of double-checking the DVD player to see what is actually in it before turning it on? You do so much to shield your son from real-world violence, I would not think this one small step (just the push of a button) would be too much to consider in order to keep the peace in your home.

Banning violent movies from your home is not the answer. Your husband's tastes in movies may not reflect your own, but to tell him he cannot bring these movies into his own home is to treat him like a child. In a healthy marriage, both members are equal partners with an equal say in matters. You are Rick's wife - not his mother, so it would be in the best interest of your marriage not to try and discipline him.

You say that your son did not seem to notice the few seconds of the violent movie that played, and I am inclined to believe that he was too tired to notice anything more than his Mama's arms around him. I would not fret that this incident will be the ruination of your son's innocence. Furthermore, rather than blame your husband, use this incident as a lesson to never assume - as the expression goes, it makes an "ass" out of "u and me".

A simple, inexpensive solution that would guarantee an incident like this one will never occur again would be to buy a second DVD player dedicated solely for your child's movies. DVD players can be purchased for less than $50; the expense could be considered an investment in your child's well-being. You could even label it "EDDIE'S DVD PLAYER" so there would be no confusion as to which player is which. I'll close by saying that I believe the more important issue at hand is for you and your husband to get onto the same page when it comes to parenting your child. Your local community center may be able to assist with some low-cost or free parenting classes.

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, August 14, 2014

How Much Parenting Is Too Much Parenting?

Dear Tazi:

Three years ago, when I was a senior in high school, my mother noticed that I was interested in attending a prestigious out-of-state college. At first, Mother thought nothing of it since she doubted that I would actually move across the country, so when my acceptance letter arrived it was quite a shock to her when I told her I was prepared to accept the school’s offer of admittance. Going to this college would have meant a great deal of financial sacrifice on my part, as well as student loans, but I was prepared to follow my dream. Mother was very upset with my plan, and offered to pay – all expenses – for my junior and senior years if I took my freshman and sophomore years at the local community college. After giving this idea much thought, I agreed. I excelled at my community college, graduating with highest honors and many accolades as well as re-acceptance into my first choice school and the knowledge that it would not cost me anything, thanks to my agreement with Mother. Here is where my problem starts:

Mother is very upset that I still wish to finish my education at my first choice school. She was hoping that the extra two years spent locally would “work things out of my system”; that I would have met someone by now and considered my education complete after only two years. Although I have dated, there has never been anyone serious in my life. I preferred to concentrate on my education, knowing that I would be moving across the country as soon as I graduated community college. I am prepared to go, and Mother is reluctantly holding up her end of the bargain, with a twist: she is insisting on leaving our home and moving across the country with me!

My Papa thinks Mother is being too clingy and has told her so, but she refuses to change her mind. She has told Papa that he can stay here if he wants but she will be moving with me. She has even started looking for apartments near my school so we can live together! Tazi, one of the goals I have for myself is to learn how to live independently of Mother. This is one of the reasons my out-of-state school is so attractive to me, in addition to the excellent scholastic program it offers. Obviously, I cannot force Mother to stay here at home while I am away at school, but I refuse to take an apartment with her. I am also worried about Papa. He loves Mother so much; it would break his heart if she were to move out on him. Do you have any advice on how to mediate this whole crazy mess?

Signed,
Future Bulldog

Dear Future Bulldog:

Congratulations on your acceptance to your first choice college. You have shown maturity beyond your years by deciding to complete your first two years of college at an affordable community college and graduate debt-free. Your grades and your achievements also speak to this maturity, which is why I believe you are ready to try life on your own terms, even if your mother is not ready for this to happen.

I am not sure if your mother realizes this, but she is being what college administrators call a “helicopter parent”, hovering over her child and trying to control your every move. Not only is this unhealthy for you – since you are no longer a child and are trying to live like an adult – it is unhealthy for your mother. Now that you are grown and ready to take the next steps in your life it is time for your mother to do the same. This can be very scary for a mother, who has spent almost half of her life (or more) caring for her children. While you are trying to establish a new identity as an adult, your mother is trying to cling to her identity as a Mom.

If your community college has an Advising and Counseling department it would do you well to make an appointment with them to discuss the life changes you will be experiencing at your new college. Your mother should go with you; this way, she can hear first-hand what is going on and ask any questions she might have. The counselor will reassure her that you do not need – nor would it be healthy to have – your mother by your side during this transitional stage of life. If your community college does not have an Advising and Counseling department, a clergy member or social worker should also be able to offer guidance in this matter.

If you are planning on living off-campus in an apartment, you might want to move in a few weeks early and ask your mother to come with you to help you get settled into your new place. This would offer a compromise between her moving in with you (and leaving your father behind) and feeling like she has completely abandoned you to a whole new world – one that does not include her. From there, I suggest that you set a day and time to call your mother each week. This will give her something to look forward to, as well as give you the chance to tell her how well you are doing on your own. Your reassurance that she raised her daughter to be a capable woman is the best gift you could possibly give her. As for what she can give you, it has been said that the best gifts a parent can give their child are roots and wings. Use both accordingly.

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. Yale? Gonzaga? Georgia? UC - Fresno? All are Bulldogs, and I am curious as to which one you will attend!

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

For Some, Everything Is A Competition - Even Illness

Dear Tazi:

My sister-in-law "Betsy" has me wanting to scream! With her, everything is a competition. Back when she and my brother were dating Betsy saw me as a threat because he and I were so close, so she felt the need to one-up me every chance she got. If I won an award, Betsy would talk about how many more awards she had won; if I bought a new dress, Betsy would run out and buy and entire new wardrobe; when I took up photography as a hobby, Betsy invested in a professional digital camera. She even delayed her wedding to my brother because she wanted a nicer venue than the one my husband and I had! You get the picture. The worst part is, Betsy and my brother do not have the money to be making all of these expensive purchases! Because my brother is head over heels for Betsy, he lets her charge whatever she wants tot heir credit cards, with the idea that they will get paid off "eventually". Her attitude upsets not just me, but the rest of my family as well.

I am generally not petty, and have learned to ignore Betsy's insecure behaviors, but she recently went beyond the pale and I am not sure I can hold it together around her much longer. What started out as a recent, routine doctor's appointment turned into a living nightmare when a lump was discovered in my breast. The doctor did not want to worry me, but was concerned enough to order a biopsy, the results of which would take a couple of weeks.

I did not want to call a false alarm and worry my family; but I did not want them to wonder why I was suddenly so moody and short-tempered while waiting on the test results, so I told my husband and immediate family - our children, my parents, and my brother. Since I really did not need Betsy's one-upmanship during this time, I did not tell her about my biopsy, but she found out anyway from my brother, who mentioned it in conversation with her.

Thankfully, the biopsy came back normal and I do not have cancer. For this, I am grateful. However, I now have to deal with Betsy carrying on about how I "always have to be the center of attention" and "worried the family half out of mind over nothing" and, worst of all, her own tales of "the many times" she thought she might have cancer but was "strong enough" to keep it to herself. At first, I was concerned that Betsy had gone through cancer scares alone in an attempt to appear brave, but after my mother pressed her she elaborated - her "cancer scares" were no more than WebMD symptom searches, where anything can be cancer if you look hard enough.

Tazi, I want to take the high road, and I have tried to put this past me, but Betsy just announced (over Sunday dinner, no less) that she has a doctor's appointment because she's been having headaches and "might have a brain tumor" and wants to have her symptoms evaluated "like 'Jennifer' did at her last doctor's appointment". Thankfully, I had a mouthful of food and started choking, allowing me to excuse myself before taking Betsy to task. How should I handle things, when this issue arises again?

Sign Me,
"Jennifer"

Dear "Jennifer":

First, let me offer you my congratulations that you are cancer free - such a health scare is like no other, so I can completely understand why you are offended by your sister-in-law's self-diagnosis, and her comparison of her special doctor's appointment with your routine one.

One detail you left our was your family's reaction to Betsy's news. Were they honestly concerned or was there a lot of eye-rolling in her direction? I ask because both extremes will feed Betsy's need for attention - the former a reward for her pleas, the latter a challenge to try harder. Betsy's reaction to your health scare - and her constant need to be the best - stem from a very fragile ego. Whether Betsy suffers from low self-esteem or an inflated sense of self-worth, it is obvious that she sees you as a threat to the love that her husband (your brother) feels for her.

I would advise you to sit down with Betsy and be straight with her. Explain to her - nicely - that you are concerned that she seems to constantly need to compete with you for attention, and that this competition is one-sided; that she is family, and that you wish to have the close relationship that sisters-in-law should have. Tell her that the comments she made about your needlessly worrying the family hurt you and that you did not share your medical news to draw attention to yourself, but rather to explain a sudden change in personality.

I cannot promise that, as a result of this conversation and line of reasoning, Betsy will change her behavior, but she will at least be aware of how you and the rest of the family view it. I would like to recommend counseling for Betsy, but for you to suggest it to her would most likely end badly. I just hope that she is reading this column, and sees herself in your letter.

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, August 12, 2014

Custody Battle Over The Pet Requires Special Considerations

Dear Tazi:

You are a cat and your Mommie that you often speak of is a cat owner, so I am writing for your opinion on a very upsetting matter. My wife, "Monica" has decided that our marriage of eight years is no longer worth fighting for and she has left me. She has told me I can keep the apartment, but she wants to take the cat with her. I absolutely refuse to allow her to take "Boots" from me. I was the one who brought Boots home from the litter, so even though he is the family cat I feel that I have that claim on him. Plus, my wife is the one leaving; why should Boots suffer the stress of being uprooted from the only home he has ever known?

"Monica" thinks I am being a jerk (what else is new) and is demanding custody of Boots, saying that he loves her best and would want to come with her; that if he could say anything other than "meow" he would say he wants to live with her. She claims to know this because she has a "psychic connection" with Boots.

In order to keep Monica from stealing Boots, I have informed the landlord that she has moved off the property, and taken her name off of the lease. This is something she needed to do anyway, in order to attain a new lease on a new apartment, so I wasn't being a [censored] as she claims. She was also required to turn in her keys, but I know that she had a secret spare set. When I informed the landlord of this, he changed the locks so she could not enter the property when I am not home. I will not have her kidnapping Boots!

Monica has discovered that the locks were changed and is throwing a fit. I KNEW she would try to steal Boots; she claims she was stopping by to see if she had mail and that I was wrong to change the locks and to accuse her of attempted catnapping. She is threatening to sue me for both a divorce and custody of Boots.

Tazi, Boots is very close to the both of us. It has only been two weeks since Monica left, and we both miss her so much. Boots has been looking for extra affection during this time, so I am starting to wonder if sending him to live with Monica would be best for him. Do you think a shared custody arrangement would work? All I want is what is best for my cat. Monica and I have no children, so Boots is all I have now. Do you think I could win custody in a court battle?

Signed,
Bootsie's Poppy

Dear Bootsie's Poppy:

Is Boots a show cat of some kind? Or is he an American Short Hair, like me? This distinction is what the court systems in most states look at when deciding who gets the pets in a divorce. Sadly, we are seen as nothing more than property; if our cash value is negligible the courts will usually refuse to rule on the matter. Of course, cash value means nothing when it comes to the love between a pet and its human companion; there is no way to put a price on something like that!

I realize that both you and Monica love Boots and can understand the need for extra snuggles during this period of adjustment. Perhaps you could allow Monica to have supervised visitation until you decide how to handle full-time custody of Boots? Paw to God, I know one couple that worked out their marital woes this way because neither one wanted to give up custody of their cat, "Baby". Lucky kitty! He didn't have to move!

If there is one thing cats hate more than anything it is moving. A human can simply pick up their stuff and go; for a cat, it is not that simple, not to mention most humans refuse to pack our treasured belongings. (When I moved, you should have seen the look on my Mommie's face when I asked her to pack the decomposing chipmunk I had been saving in the crawl space!) A cat's home is its territory. A cat knows all the secret places where he can hide (like the aforementioned crawl space); has a favorite napping place (the crawlspace); and has an understanding with the other cats in the area about where his territory ends and where theirs begins. Even an indoor cat has a certain outdoor radius that they consider theirs (generally several feet from their favorite window, in either direction).

Nobody likes to be the new kid on the block, and cats don't make new friends very easily; so moving them from this carefully balanced system can stress them in ways that can take weeks or even months to fully recover. Because of this, I would ask Monica to please consider Boots' needs and to put them before her own. If she insists on a court custody battle, please advocate for Boots and not yourself. That is the sign of the true love a human has for his or her four-legged companion.

Snuggles to you and Boots,
Tazi

P.S. If Monica insists on taking Boots with her before custody can be legally decided, pack all of his things in order to make the move easier on him. Be sure to include his favorite napping blankets, his kitty bed, his feeding dishes, and the rotting animal he probably has hidden under your bed. Something tells me you will especially enjoy packing that one. --T.K.

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

Monday, August 11, 2014

Student Dreams Of Being A Successful Writer; Asks Tazi How

Dear Tazi:

I am a senior in high school, and I love to write. It doesn't matter what kind of writing it is (creative or non-fiction, poetry, journalism, short-stories), I just enjoy the creative process and emotional release it offers. I would like to be a professional writer one day; but the problem is, I think I might not be that good of a writer.

My parents have never allowed me to take writing classes as electives, preferring I take extra science and math courses so I have never had any formal training. My school has a literary magazine that is published twice yearly, but my stuff has never been chosen for publication. It is a blind process (the selection committee does not see who wrote what), so I know it is not a popularity contest, with the most popular kids getting their stuff published...I just feel like maybe I am chasing a dream that will never be realized. I could self-publish, but that stuff is done on consignment and I do not want to invest my college money into something that may flop big time.

I will be going to college next year, and I know that the school I will be attending has a required freshman writing class where I can learn what I am doing wrong, but I would like to major in writing and I am just not certain if I am good enough to do it. I love your column, Tazi; it is so creative and is always fun to read. You have mentioned in the past that you sometimes have to re-work the letters for structure, to make them easier to read, and it is obviously working - I have seen your page view map and people from all over the world read your column! Do you have any tips on how I can be a better writer? I have enclosed a few samples of my stuff for you to review, if you don't mind.

Signed,
Future Rowling, Collins, Or Meyer...I Hope!

Dear Future Rowling, Collins, Or Meyer:

Oh, my! You do seem to have an appreciation for current popular fiction! Have you discovered any classic authors yet? My favorite is T.S. Eliot, who wrote about cats. Lloyd Alexander did the same, although his work was geared more towards children. I also enjoy Stephen King - my favorite is Pet Semetary, which features a zombie cat. I am somewhat obsessed with my own kind, as all cats tend to be obsessed with themselves; at least us male cats. Female cats tend to be more nurturing. Speaking of nurturing versus self-centered, my lady friend came by to visit tonight; but I was too busy napping to pay her any mind...but I digress, which happens often when I am writing. I was supposed to address your question, wasn't I?

The above paragraph is an example of my unedited work. Did you notice how I started to ramble off topic? Did you lose interest, because my writing was turning into a self-absorbed soliloquy? I left the above paragraph unedited to show the importance of editing, which is the greater part of successful writing. So often, when we write, we cannot see past our own point-of-view. We fall in love with what we have written and cannot see the need to edit it - we assume that it will be of such great interest to others, too, and declare our first draft to be perfection! So why mess with it, right? Because - to be quite honest - a first draft is something nobody but the writer (and possibly the writer's Grandma) will find fascinating. Most people find a first draft of something confusing or downright uninteresting - both of which can be hard to follow.

Successful writing is like successful cooking - you can't just throw all of your ingredients in one pot, stir, and serve. You have to add the right elements at the proper time, taste-test to make sure you have the right blend, and then walk away to allow the flavors to blend and marinate in their own juices. When you write, you take an idea and work on developing it, adding background to the story-line and deciding on where the plot is going by creating an outline of the story.

As your idea develops, you add the plot points in at the proper time to ensure continuity. Then, when you think you have everything in place, you write a rough draft and then walk away from it, to let it sit and allow your excitement over your creation to dissipate. Return when you feel you can view your work with a critical - but not overly judgmental - eye. You will notice changes that need to be made to make things flow better and to make for a more interesting experience for the reader. Once you finish your second draft, put it aside and then lather, rinse, repeat! If you feel additional changes are not needed, run your work by someone in your potential audience who would be willing to evaluate it and give you constructive criticism; make further edits based upon the comments you receive. As you can see, several drafts may be needed before you reach a final, finished product.

Once you reach your end-point with a particular piece, compare the completed work with the first draft and make notes on what was changed, what was kept, and what was completely eliminated. Over time, you will see a pattern developing and you will be able to learn more about your strengths and weaknesses as a writer, building towards the success you seek.

Do not feel discouraged by the process, or by those who make the process look easy - writers who declare their work to be perfect on the first try and/or who pump out stuff overnight very rarely receive wide, sustained, commercial success for their work. For more tips on commercially successful writing, visit People I Want To Punch In The Throat: My Blogging Advice. By pure chance, her blog today happens to be on how she has managed to successfully (read: go viral and get paid) work as a professional freelance writer.

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. with regard to your writing samples: Vampires have been overdone. Try not to stand on the shoulders of giants, but to build your own ladder to reach the stars. The full narratives are somewhat disjointed - especially the two poems you included to start and end of the story. They are obviously quite personal; perhaps a little too personal, as one would have to be able to crawl inside your mind to fully understand their meaning.


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

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Repost - Tazi Recommends: On Sandwiches

Dear Readers:

Some people knowingly carry dogs in their purses; others unwittingly tote their cats around. My Mommie is the latter, as she did not realize I was napping in her tote when she went out to dinner the other night. Consequently, I overheard her reminiscing over the very first time she had a French Dip sandwich. She mentioned that she was 10 and had no fondness for cold cuts (some things never change) but she liked the idea that the sandwich was both French and dippable, so she gave it a whirl. She ended by saying an oft heard phrase around my house, "A sandwich tastes better when somebody else makes it". If you have ever witnessed her attempts at making a sandwich, you will understand why this is so. Anyhow, in honor of my Mommie's love of sandwiches crafted by other people, this week I review

On Sandwiches
Sandwiches I Have Eaten And Would Like To Eat


The subject of this site makes me think this blog is written by Homer Simpson, but the fact of the matter is that the blog is more of a food review board than a "Mmmmmm....sandwich" kind of place. The author is obviously based out of California, so many of the sandwiches he has eaten have been crafted at California eateries. Each review comes with a full color picture of the sandwich being discussed, so you might not want to go to this site if you are hungry. Otherwise, it is a gustatory wonder! With categories like "Porkstravaganza" to "Vegan" you are bound to find a sandwich that perks up your appetite. I suggest you check it out to add inspiration to your menu! As for me, I do not like people food but the idea of a Fried Catfish Po' Boy caught my eye. Cat...fish? A fish just for a cat? I am all over that like the Sunday paper. Speaking of which, it's about time you put it down so the feline in your life can nap on it!

Snuggles,
Tazi


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

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Bed-Wetting Can Put A Damper On Slumber Party Fun

Dear Tazi:

I am seven years old and have a problem that is not funny. I wet the bed. My best friend is having a slumber party for her birthday next month and I want to go, but I am afraid I will have an accident. My Mommy took me to the doctor to see if she could do anything to help, but the doctor wanted to give me medicine and Mommy said no. I cried on my cat, Fluffy Lady, until my eyes were all red and my nose was stuffy but Mommy still said no to medicine that could help. Could you convince my Mommy to let me take the medicine so I can go to the slumber party?

Signed,
Potty Pooper

P.S. My Nana helped me to write this letter, but I did it almost all on my own!

Dear Potty Pooper:

It is no fun to wet the bed, but I want you to know that it is not your fault! Some children have small bladders that cannot hold a lot, or have weak bladder muscles that let go once the body is relaxed (like when you are asleep).

It was very nice of your Nana to help you write a letter to me! I am guessing that she would like to see you go to your friend's party, even if it means you have to take medicine, huh? This does not mean that your Mommy does not want you to go to the party; just that she does not want you to take medicine, because some medicines can hurt our bodies as well as help them - especially when we are little and still growing. It sounds to me like your Mommy is being very, very careful because she loves you so very much!

My Mommie used to babysit and nanny for a lot of different kids, and she told me that Huggies' GoodNights look just like real underwear and are made to help with bed-wetting. Maybe if your Mommie knows how much the slumber party means to you, she will buy you some to wear for this special occasion? Normally, I do not like to endorse products in my column ("endorse" is a big word for telling people to buy stuff), but my Mommie says GoodNights really work well! Dry beds in the morning, and no painful rashes, either!

Maybe if you and your Nana show your Mommy this letter, she will agree to this solution, and let you go to the party.

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. Please give Fluffy Lady a snuggle from me, too! She sounds like a very good pet to let you cry all over her!



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