Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Out Of Work And Out Of Shape, Woman Seeks New Beginning For The New Year

Dear Tazi-Kat:

The New Year will soon be upon us, and I am feeling quite down about it. I have been out of work for the past year and unable to find work no matter how hard I look. I have not even been able to secure a single interview. Because of this, I have spent a lot of time sitting at home, bored out of my mind; and in order to reduce the boredom, I have taken up snacking. When I tried to fit into my favorite party dress in anticipation for New Year's Eve, I was horrified to find that it did not fit! It is not simply a little tight; it won't zip past my waist!

I had not realized how much weight I have gained these past several months because I have been living in sweat pants, completely unmotivated to even get dressed; but now that I see it, I want to do something about it on the off-chance that I find an interview! I need my clothes to fit! I cannot afford a gym membership - even at one of those $10/month places - and I do not have any home work-out equipment. Do you have any advice on how to get myself back into shape, in spite of my dire situation?

Plumped Up

Dear Plumped Up:

My condolences on your extended unemployment. I have noticed that unlike cats, most humans cannot stand to be idle for prolonged periods of time. I can see why this would drive you straight into the snack cabinet in an effort to keep busy. Your first step to losing the weight you have gained will have to be to put a lock on the snack cabinet, unless you feel you can control your desire to snack. This should put a stop to some of the weight gain, but not all of it.

You write that you have been "sitting at home". Nothing puts on weight like sitting around doing nothing, except the combination of sitting around doing nothing and eating; so in addition to the lock on the snack cabinet you have to get up and get moving. Do you have a flight of stairs in your home or apartment? If so, I suggest that you start steppin', because you have a manual StairMaster! As a cat, I love running up and down the stairs at a record pace - it gets my heart rate up and burns calories. As a fellow mammal, I know this kind of exercise will have a similar effect on you.

If you truly cannot tolerate the stairs, there is always walking - outdoors if the weather is nice, indoors - like at the local mall - if it is not. Try to walk for three miles a day at a pace of at least 3.0 mph for a cardio workout. If walking is not your thing, either, then there is always good old-fashioned calisthenics; the workout that requires no equipment - just your body, and actual effort.

If any kind of physical activity at all is something that turns you off, I suggest you get screened for depression. Your prolonged unemployment may have brought on such an ailment; and your job search might be being unintentionally curtailed because of it.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

As Uncool As It Sounds, Proper Grammar Is Important

Dear Tazi:

I am at my wit's end with my fourteen year old daughter!  "Sabrina" insists on writing all of her communications - from texts to school writing assignments - in text speak, or worse, LOL speak.  I will admit that it is charming when you kitty-cats do it, but it is sickening seeing my daughter's grades plummet because she thinks it is "cool" to write this way.  She is also starting to speak in street slang; she sounds like a punk!  This is not how she was raised!

My mother-in-law spent her entire career teaching proper English to middle school students (she was an English teacher).  I remember when my husband and I first started dating, how I worked on my grammar so as to impress her with my proper speech, and I have worked to pass the lessons she taught onto Sabrina, but Sabrina just won't listen!  Her grandmother is coming to visit from Florida this Christmas.  It is her first visit since moving two years ago, and I am afraid of what she will think when she asks about Sabrina's grades or offers to proofread her papers - something Sabrina used to love to do with her Grandma.

I have tried to punish Sabrina for her low grades, but nothing works - she continues to use poor grammar because she thinks it is the height of fashion and that "nobody cares about grammar anymore".  She complains that it is boring, old-fashioned, and outdated.  Can you think of a way that I can get my daughter back on track?

Not LOL'ing

Dear Not LOL'ing:

It appears that your daughter is trying to fit in with a certain crowd, and hopefully this is merely a phase through which she is going on her way to becoming an independent thinker. I realize from your letter that you hold your mother-in-law in high esteem, and that you fear she will somehow think less of you because of your daughter's sudden change in writing habits.  I think you give your M-I-L far too little credit!  She has been proofreading your daughter's work over the years, and has watched her writing abilities develop.  Could her move to Florida - and subsequent lack of quality time with Sabrina - have brought on Sabrina's changed behavior?  Is it possible that her use of poor grammatical skills is a cry for attention?

I suggest that, in preparation for your M-I-L's visit, you contact her and explain the situation with Sabrina's writing; then, have your M-I-L contact Sabrina about proofreading her work via email and chatting about it through Skype or a webcam.  Both are wonderful ways to keep in touch and to kept the bond between Sabrina and her Grandma strong.  If Sabrina knows that her Grandma will be reading her work her attitude towards grammar may suddenly improve.  It  is my greatest hope that your daughter sees that by writing in text and LOL speak, she is perpetrating the untruth that she is an uneducated dolt.

I also think that it is time that Grandma have a talk with Sabrina about the importance of proper grammar when speaking and writing the English language.  In our ever widening global economy more and more business people are not native speakers of the American language, and proper grammar can make the difference between being understood or unintentionally insulting somebody.

Proper grammar can save a life!

On a personal note,  I would like to say that LOL cats aren't cute because of the way they are shown to speak; they are cute because they are cats!  Furthermore, as you can see by my column, cats do not speak in LOL-Catese.  This is a horrible scam, one that the Great Cat Overlord is working hard on correcting, as you can see here:

P. Tigris only takes the time to speak out on matters of utmost importance.  
The rest of the time he naps.


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

Monday, December 29, 2014

Siblings As Roommates Can Lead To Squabbling

Dear Tazi:

I am a senior in college and will be graduating in a few months and unless a full-time job comes through real soon it looks like I will be moving back home with Mom. I would really not prefer to do this after four years of living on my own, but I cannot afford to keep my apartment on my own, and my two roommates will be moving back to their hometowns.

I started selectively putting the word out that I am looking for new roommates, telling a few trusted friends who know what I am looking for in a roommate. The problem is that my sister's boyfriend was one of those people, and he accidentally let it slip that I was looking for a roommate. I love my sister, but have no desire to live with her - which is what she wants now that she knows I am looking for a roommate.

"Janie" keeps talking about how great it will be if we live together, how it will be just like things were when we were growing up - which is the problem. When we were growing up, Janie always tried to boss me around and was constantly butting into my business. On top of this, Janie is an incredibly controlling neat freak while I prefer a more relaxed atmosphere. I am not a slob, but I do have a tendency to leave my shoes in the living room and the toilet seat up, both habits that send Janie into screaming fits of rage.

I don't want to hurt my sister's feelings, but how can I do that and get out of having her move in with me?

Roommate Dilemma

Dear Roommate Dilemma:

The simplest way to tell your sister that you do not want to be her roommate is to be straightforward and honest without being brutally honest. Tell Janie that you have given a great deal of thought to the idea of her being your roommate, but that you are afraid that your vastly different lifestyles would drive a wedge between the two of you, and instead of growing closer as siblings you would probably grow apart. This response will not only address your desire find a roommate more compatible with your lifestyle, it will also address what I believe Janie is fearing: that as you both age, your close sibling relationship is starting to fade.

It is obvious from Janie's sentimental memories of your childhood that she remembers things differently than you, and that she cherished the time you two had together growing up. When is the last time you spent any real time with your sister? Between your studies and work and her own life's obligations, time together as siblings has probably taken a back-seat to other priorities. Now that you are moving forward in your life, why not fill some of your free time with family?

I suggest that you let Janie know that you will be continuing your search for new roommates, but would like to make a point of spending time with her - say getting together for lunch  or drinks after work once a week. Once Janie realizes that she is still important to you and that you value your relationship with her she will probably back off on the idea of being roommates - especially when you remind her of how you prefer to keep the toilet seat in the up position.


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

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Private Property Owner Steaming Over Bus Stop Behavior

Dear Tazi:

Due to a problem with bullying (I do not know all the details) a local school bus stop was divided into two, with my front curb being the location of the new bus stop.  I have no problem completing my civic duty and making allowances for a school bus to pick up and drop off children in front of my house - I have even repaved my portion of the sidewalk, filling in cracks just to keep the children safe - but I do have a problem with unruly children running across my lawn and through my driveway on the way to and from the bus stop.

I have a large front lawn with only a few trees, which apparently children find irresistible for use as a makeshift football field.  I have asked the children - on several occasions - not to play on my lawn, that I am afraid that they will get hurt.  Tazi, I do not wish to be held legally responsible for any injuries.  Technically, these children are trespassing, but how do you explain that to an eight year old?  You don't.

This past fall, as one child was "going long" he slipped and fell on some wet leaves in my yard.  Thank goodness he landed on the lawn, but his head landed only inches from my driveway!  After coming to the child's aid and making sure he was okay, I lectured him about playing football on my lawn and told him that I would be calling the school about this behavior.  The child laughed at me and suggested I do just that.  It was then that I realized that I did not know the child's name, and that the school bus would be arriving after I had to leave for work.  This is another concern of mine - children left unattended in my yard when I am not home.

If I could, I would put up a small white picket fence with a gate at the edge of my property line, but local zoning laws prohibit fencing so close to the curb; a fence set eight feet back would look ridiculous, and would still allow a good portion of room for these children to play on my lawn, thus defeating the purpose of the fence and quite possibly adding a new hazard.

I do not know who these children are, so I cannot contact their parents about this issue.  I sincerely doubt that my city council will be able to do anything about it, and I am hesitant to call the police - in the end, these are just children looking to have some fun while waiting for their bus; I just do not want them to do it in a place where I am legally liable for any injuries!  Do you have any suggestions on how to solve this issue, Tazi?

Not A Parent (Obviously)

Dear Not A Parent (Obviously):

Your concerns are valid ones.  My front yard has a school bus stop across the street from it; thankfully, the children are chaperoned by parents who see that they are well-behaved and respect the boundaries set forth by the neighboring property owners.  I can only imagine the nightmare that would occur if these parents were not so conscientious! PAWS UP to parents who do this!  ("")  ("")

Since you do not know the identity of the children in your yard - or the identity of their parents - I suggest that you contact your local school board.  It should be they who control the placement of school bus stops; if it is not, they will know who to contact regarding this matter.  Politely explain the situation and your concerns, as you have here, and emphasize your concerns over liability. The fact that a child narrowly escaped a serious head injury is cause for deep concern for all parties involved.

The School Board should have a list of addresses within the radius that the school bus stop in front of your house serves and a letter to parents can be sent to those addresses, explaining the situation and the responsibility that they bear, as parents, in teaching their children to respect the property of others.  If your community participates in the D.A.R.E. program, perhaps an associated officer (one that the children know and trust) can come and check on the children to make certain that they are following the rules, and enforce the rules if the children are disregarding them.

I highly doubt that it will come to this, but if these aforementioned steps do not solve the issue you may have to file a formal complaint, with your City Hall, against your School Board, stating that they have failed to enforce your rights as a private property owner and demanding that the school bus stop be moved elsewhere...thus making it somebody else's headache.


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

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Date To A Dance Is Not Worth This Price Of Admission

Dear Tazi:

I am fifteen and attend a small junior-senior high school. My sister is twelve, and just started the seventh grade this past September. Because there is not a whole lot to do in my town, the school hosts a lot of events - sports games and dances are the biggest events, with quarterly semi-formals being the biggest draw to us students.

Every year, the seventh grade girls try to get a date with a ninth or tenth grade boy for the Christmas or Valentine's Day dance (the eleventh and twelfth grade boys generally ignore them). They think it is a sign of maturity and popularity that they are "going" with an older boy; that they are so hot that all the guys find them irresistible.

Now that I am in tenth grade, a lot of my sister's friends have started offering me promises if I take them to one of the big dances. Tazi, I am so not interested in girls that young, or girls that are d.t.f.. I have been letting them down gently since October. [Ed. Note: A check of revealed that d.t.f. is an extremely vulgar abbreviation. Since no polite synonym could be found, the term is used here, but out of protest for such language, no link to the term is provided].

I just found out that my little sister thinks the reason no boy asked her to the Christmas dance is because she isn't a hands-on type of girl, if you know what I mean. I also found out from one of my friends that she offered him "whatever he wants" in return for taking her to the Valentine's Day dance. My buddy told her he would take her if she promised to cut the attitude and show some self-respect, that he wouldn't want to be seen with a skank.

The good thing is that my sister has a date for the upcoming dance with a guy I trust to treat her like a lady, but my problem is what to do about the offer she made to him. I do not know if my friend was the first guy she approached or one of several. I would like to pull my big brother status on her and lecture her about how to behave, but I am afraid that might send her in the opposite direction. Should I tell my parents what I heard and let them decide what to do with her? I don't want to see my sister develop a reputation.

Big Bro

Dear Big Bro:

("") ("") Two paws way up for your friend! with the exception of his choice of vocabulary, he showed a great deal of class in how he dealt with your sister and in following through on his word to take her to this dance. Hopefully, when your sister sees how a gentleman treats a lady she will now want to act like a lady.

America's Most FAMOUS Skank!

I can understand your desire to come down on your little sister for her very sad, twisted take on why she was not asked to the Christmas dance, but rather than try to discipline her I think you should try to talk to her about why she thinks her personal morals are the reason nobody asked her. It could be that she was concentrating so hard on getting a date with an older boy that she ignored the boys in her own age group. Explain to her what your friend already has: that a respectable boy is not the type to accept sexual favors from young girls, that respectable boys are attracted to the type of girl who respects herself and her body.

I think if you go to your parents with this issue your sister will not be seeing the lights of the dance floor - or any other social setting - for a very long time, so I suggest you give her a pass until after the Valentine's Day dance is over and see if her behavior was a one-time lapse of reason, which I think it may have been; no harm, no foul. If, on the other hand, your sister continues to offer her body in return for what she thinks is popularity and love you absolutely must tell your parents so they can deal with it on a more appropriate level.  Your sister is lucky to have a caring brother like you! Paws up to you, too!  ("") ("")


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

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas, Dear Readers!

Dear Readers:

Today is Christmas, and I wanted to wish you all a very merry one!

My Mommie brought me home a huge haul of loot! A new food dish, a new collar, some new toys, a big bag of organic catnip (because I ate the plant she was growing me), TWO big bags of my favorite cat cereal, a GIANT box of my favorite litter, and a MEGA bag of my favorite treats, along with a few other things. I am truly a blessed kitty, because in addition to all of this, she continues to give me a warm and happy home at a time when many people are turning their beloved pets in to the shelters because they cannot afford to keep them - or worse, abandoning them to the streets. How lucky can one kitty get?

My hope for all who celebrate is that your Christmas is as wonderful as mine; and that you remember to share the love with those who have less. (I plan on giving snuggles to all who come to visit me, even though they claim that they are there to see the humans! I think we all know that is just pretense!).


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Here Comes The Bride(zilla)

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am getting married this December, and have sent out my wedding invitations early, so people will remember NOT to double-book the date with their Christmas parties and other holiday plans. The invitations have been received by many of my invited guests - and some of them have had the nerve to ask if they can bring a date, disregarding the fact that the envelope was addressed solely to them!

I am having a rather large wedding, and in order to include everyone that I wanted to invite, my parents (who are footing the entire bill) told me that I had to draw the line somewhere; so I drew it among my single friends. If they are not married or in a serious relationship, I did not add "and guest" to their invitation. A table full of my sorority sisters (who are the only ones affected by my decision) have taken offense to this plan, and are taking it quite personally; accusing me of assuming that just because they are single they cannot find a date to escort them to my wedding.

Tazi-Kat, I love all of my sisters; but I have to admit that those that are complaining about the lack of a "+1" are single for a reason, and probably could not get a date for my wedding if they paid someone to take them! I have tried to explain to them that they will all be seated at the same table, so they will not be all alone - they will have each other - and that going solo to a wedding can be a great way to meet someone, if they keep an open-minded attitude about it. Their response has been less than understanding, and they have threatened to "boycott" my wedding altogether, which would leave a huge gap in my seating plan (the room is bigger than necessary, but it was the only one available at the location I wanted for the date I wanted).

The issue is driving a wedge between me and some of my other sisters, as well. Tazi-Kat, how can I get them to understand that there just isn't room for everyone; and that my parents cannot afford for them to bring a friend just so they will have someone to dance with to the slow songs?

Having Some Big Fat "Greek" Wedding Troubles

Dear H.S.B.F.G.Wedding Troubles:

Are you certain that your single sorority sisters "could not get a date if they paid someone..."? The economy is pretty bad right now, and I am certain that someone out there would be willing to escort each of them for the right price. Seriously, they say that there is someone for everyone, and that must be true if an absolute b!tch like you corralled a guy into marrying them. Yes, you read that right, Bridezilla!!

I am going to be completely honest with you, which is probably not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear just the same: Your attitude stinks! To write the things you wrote about your sorority sisters shows a complete lack of ethics and is a betrayal to your vows of sisterhood.

In deciding for yourself that they are "single for a reason" and then seating them all together at the same table makes them sound like "the mutants at table 9" from the movie The Wedding Singer. Just because somebody is single does not mean that they do not date, and would not enjoy bringing someone with them to a "couples" event. If you think going single to a wedding is a "great way" to meet someone, you have obviously never gone solo to a wedding. Plus, by your own admission, your sorority sisters will be the only single people there, making it impossible to meet someone.

Even if every person you invited to your wedding R.S.V.P.'s with a "yes", the cost to serve an additional "table full" of guests - which is what you would have, if all of them brought guests - would be around $500 for the average wedding. Again by your own admission, there would be plenty of room for the extra people; thus solving the "huge gap" in your seating plan should your offended sisters not show.

Considering that your parents are paying for your wedding, I think you should offer to cover this nominal amount personally, as a peace offering for your truly horrid attitude. It is up to you to decide if this is too much to pay for the price of sisterhood; but should you refuse, you may discover the price you end up paying to be much higher than that.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Relocating Means Learning New Language, Overcoming Old Prejudices

Dear Tazi:

A few months ago I accepted a job transfer to Miami, thinking the change of scenery (and escape from an upstate New York winter) would be a nice change of pace. The one thing I forgot to count on is the fact that Miami is no longer a part of the United States, at least it seems that way.  With more people speaking Spanish than English, I feel like I have moved to Cuba.  I believe that in America we should speak English, but my beliefs are not going to help me get by in this new city where I do not know anybody and do not speak the predominant language.  I feel like an immigrant in my own country, and am very, very frustrated.

I am trying very hard to overcome my anger at those who have moved here to America - legally or illegally - and have not learned English, but it is hard.  Why should I have to learn Spanish when the official language of America is English?  Why shouldn't people who speak Spanish have to learn English?  I am in my forties, and learning a new language is not easy at my age.

People have mentioned that I try Rosetta Stone, but that program is very expensive and I am not sure how I would do in a self-guided program.  I do not have time to take a class at the community college, and I really need to learn at least conversational Spanish to get around this city.  In past columns, you have mentioned that your Mommie is learning Spanish.  Can you tell me any of her secrets for learning this new language?  Or is she failing as badly as I am at trying to learn Spanish?


No Habla Español 

Dear No Habla Español:

First let me state for the record that, due to my bearing the onus of an inordinate amount of neglect, my Mommie is doing very well in her attempts to learn Spanish!  Mi mamá trabaja mucho! Before I share some of her tips for learning a new language - I have not decided if you are worthy of them yet - I would like to address the attitude I sense coming from your letter.

To start, you are incorrect in stating that English is the "official language" of the United States.  The U.S. has no official language; English is simply the most commonly spoken one and the most agreed upon for government use as it is the traditionally used language within our borders.  There are those who argue that America should pass legislation declaring English as our official language, but until that happens your argument is on shaky ground.

There are different areas in America where the predominant culture dictates the language most spoken - a good example of this would be among the Amish, who speak a German dialect among themselves and within their communities.  This does not mean that they cannot speak English (they can, and they do when the occasion calls for it), which brings me to another point: you assume that simply because someone is speaking Spanish that they are unable to speak English; this is not always correct.  Many immigrants and first generation Americans are bi-lingual and even poly-lingual, putting the language skills of the native born to shame.

You mention that you are in your forties and that learning a new language at your age is hard.  Many who immigrate to America come here not as children, but as adults and experience the same difficulty learning English that you are experiencing learning Spanish.  It is for this reason that Spanish speaking communities form, eliminating the need to learn English in order to go about one's day to day business.  Again, this is not to say that nobody in those communities speaks English; I suggest you work to find businesses that are bilingual in English-Spanish and patron them while you work to improve your Spanish.  Who knows?  The business owners may even assist you with your Spanish while you are in their stores.

You are right to feel like an immigrant in your own country, because technically you have immigrated to a new community.  Even if that community spoke English, it would be a very different form of English than what you speak in upstate New York; you would have to learn how to interpret the local verbiage and work through the differences in your accents in order to make yourself understood and to understand others.

Being immersed in a new language is actually the best way to learn it - after all, it is how you learned your first language.  The next time you find yourself lost in the world of a new language, try to put aside your anger, fear, and panic and truly listen to what is being said.  Many Spanish words are part of the English language, and many Spanish words sound similar to English words; try to put these words into the context of the situation.  Do not be afraid to tell people that you do not speak Spanish, and ask them to speak slowly (habla despacio, por favor!).  Use as many physical props as possible to get your message across, and listen to the words used in response.  This is a great way to increase your vocabulary.  In time, as your vocabulary increases, your grammar will also improve.

Now, as for how Mommie is managing to do so well in her Spanish class: She first worked on building her vocabulary.  Her Spanish textbook keeps words in groups - physical traits, academic topics, rooms in the house, etc.  She learns each group in turn, and then uses them when speaking to me.  Over the past few months I have learned that I come la comida para gatos (eat cat food); duerme sobre una manta (sleep on a blanket) and that I can be a dolar en el culo! (pain in the...HEY!!!  That is not nice!).

Once you learn some vocabulary, you can learn how to conjugate each verb.  A book like Spanish for Dummies can be very helpful, as can a Spanish to English dictionary, many of which are free online.  The key to retaining what you learn is to practice every day.  Mommie talks to me in Spanish, and reviews the stuff that is giving her trouble right before she goes to bed; while sleeping, her brain untangles the problem and things generally make sense in the morning.

I realize that you say you do not have the time to take a class, but this really is the best way to learn a new language if immersion is not working for you.  Many colleges offer Spanish classes online, so you  do not have to worry about making it to a set class time each week - just about completing the assignments and practicing, practicing, practicing!!!  Perfection will not come overnight, but nobody is expecting that of you.  The fact that you are making an effort will be noticed, and go a long way towards helping you gain acceptance in your new community.


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

Monday, December 22, 2014

Is He The Father, Or Is She A Scam Artist?

Dear Tazi:

I met my husband of four years in church.  Like many people, he had a "past" and had come to the Church seeking forgiveness and renewal.  While we were dating, "Thomas" informed me of his loose behaviors and assured me that he was a changed man.  His commitment to me and to God are truly astounding, and I know that my husband is now as pure a man as a human can possibly be; I have long since accepted his past, as I know it led him to becoming the man he is today.

We have been trying to conceive for two years, and have realized that children are probably not in our future.  After much soul-searching and prayer, we had come to accept this idea when out of the blue a woman from Thomas' past contacted him and informed him that he is the father of her twelve year old son; that the boy has become an out of control "punk" and that she can no longer handle him by herself.  She demanded that Thomas "man up" and be a father to his child - starting with twelve years of back child support payments.

Tazi, we were both surprised to hear that Thomas has a son, and are more than happy to make him a part of our family, especially after giving up all hope of ever having children; however, we are not in a position to pay twelve years of back child support for a child we only just found out existed!  Thomas is angry that this woman from his past never contacted him before now, and is justifiably upset and feeling like his son was stolen from him by this woman, who had been a one night stand.  In all fairness, Thomas says he never gave out his phone number to women he "hooked up with" back then.

When Thomas asked how this woman had found him, she responded that she had tracked him down through Facebook and that she had been searching for him for years.  Tazi, she could not have been searching very hard - Thomas was always listed in the phone book and has several friends and acquaintances in our small town.  Before he reformed, he could always be found at the same bar, seven nights a week.  Because she never told Thomas of his son's existence and never made a claim of paternity, we feel that Thomas does not owe a dime in back child support.  When Thomas told his son's mother this, she broke down and cried saying she could not afford a lawyer to sue him for the money, and that she needed it to pay her mortgage or her house would end up in foreclosure.

Tazi, my husband and I are starting to feel like this woman only "found" him because she is hurting for money and thought him an easy target.  Going forward, we would like to play a part in this boy's life and to let him know that his father did not abandon him.  We have offered to start a college fund for him (as a way of making up for back child support) but all the boy's mother said was "that doesn't do me any good now!"

I hate to even think it, but I am starting to think that this woman is a scam artist.  Thomas does not remember her, but to his (dis?)credit, he admits to having "a lot of one night stands back in the day".  We have suggested going to court to prove paternity and  arrange for joint custody and visitation, but this woman just freaked out and accused us of trying to take her son away from her.  We have talked to the boy on the phone, but have yet to meet him in person.  Do you think we are being scammed, Tazi?  Should we contact an attorney - or even the authorities?

Wanting to Do the Right Thing

Dear Wanting to Do the Right Thing:

Infertility can be heartbreaking, but please do not let your eagerness to start a family lead you down a path of deceit.  I cannot say if this woman is a scam artist or not, but things do not sound all that kosher to me.  However, your husband's past plays a part in this soap opera, too, complicating what should be a very easy issue to solve.

Thomas is either the father to this child or he is not.  The fact that he has been absent for the first twelve years of the boy's life is not his fault, and it is admirable that you both wish to make amends by starting a college fund for the boy.  Before you do any of this, you should contact a reputable family law attorney.  A simple, painless DNA test will establish paternity of the child your husband has supposedly fathered and you can move forward from there.

If Thomas is not the child's father, you will need to decide whether or not to call your local authorities.  I believe that you should.  This woman could be a scam artist or she could honestly believe that your husband fathered her child, and she is now in a desperate enough place that she needs his help.  She mentioned that her son is a "punk", which means she could be looking for more than money; she could be looking for a father for her son.  The fact that she does not wish to involve the courts leaves me wary of her intentions.

If your husband did indeed father this boy, a court will rule on child support payments - past and future - as well as a visitation schedule and custody issues.  I think your idea of setting up a college fund for the boy is a wonderful idea, and should be presented to the judge, if it comes to that point.  You and your husband will both need to reassure the boy's mother that you do not seek to replace her in her son's life, that you simply seek to be an added part of his life.  It is your husband's right as a father, and I am happy to see that you are embracing the idea of being a stepmother.


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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Woman Wants To Know Why Men Keep Hitting On Her

Dear Tazi:

I am a busy, divorced Mom of an active son so I will be short, sweet, and to the point: How come men are coming out of woodwork - everyone from a nurse at the hospital  to a father in my son's class - and asking me "out" in not so polite terms. I'm not flirting or wearing anything remotely sexy and yet I'm getting requests everywhere; it's starting to be a pain!  Mind you I have a claddagh ring on left hand ring finger that is very classy, and custom made for me. I should also state that I have made it clear to these men that I am in a committed relationship, but that still hasn't stopped them.

Getting Tired Of All This Attention:

Dear Getting Tired Of All This Attention:

Your claddagh ring sounds lovely, but are you sure that you are wearing it correctly?  According to, this traditional Irish ring is to be worn on the right hand, with the hands and heart facing outward if you are single/looking and inward if you are in a committed relationship or married. If your ring is facing outward, men in the know about this tradition could see it as a signal to make a move.  This, however, does not excuse their use of crude and ungentlemanly language.  A Tazi Paw Slap of Disgust to them!

A Tazi Paw Slap of Disgust is like a Hallmark® card, only more honest!
If your claddagh ring is properly positioned and men are still coming onto you in not so polite terms, I suggest you tell them that "my boyfriend doesn't like it when other men talk to me that way, and neither do I!"  From there, calmly walk away or, if that is not possible, turn away from them so they know you are not interested.  If they continue to pursue you, do your best to ignore them.  Once they realize you are not playing hard to get their fervor will hopefully die.

This last step is very, very important: no matter how much a man continues to vie for your attention, you must ignore him.  The moment you give in to his desire for attention you give him power over you.  Just a spoiled child knows that Mommy will break down buy him a toy if he throws a tantrum, an unscrupulous man will learn what to do to break through your emotional armor and use it against you until you concede to having a conversation with him...or a drink...or dinner...or...(mind you, I am not saying all men are unscrupulous, but from the way you describe the way these men have been hitting on you they do not sound like gentlemen!).

As for how you act and dress, sometimes, all a woman has to do is smile and be friendly for a man to think that she is interested in him.  It is not for you to change your demeanor, but for the men who take it the wrong way to hold their horses and look for actual signs of interest and not interpret common courtesy as a green light into your bed.  Until these neanderthals catch on to the fact that you are not flirting with them, be sure to pepper your conversations with references to your partner and to flash that claddagh ring like a rapper flashes his bling!

Don "Magic" Juan would fit right in with the People of WalMart!


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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Student Wants To Keep Plan To Drop Out A Secret

Dear Tazi:

I have not been doing well in school this year. As of my last report card I was failing two subjects and my grades have not improved any. My parents have refused to pay for summer school again (I went last summer) which means I will have to stay back a year. I can't stand school and I want to drop out. I know that this is a bad idea and that, in my state at least, you need to be 18 before you can test for a GED. I am only 16 1/2 which would mean I would have to wait a year and a half in limbo without a diploma or a GED.

I know a lot of employers will not hire a high school drop-out, so I was thinking about not officially dropping out. This way I can remain on the school roster as a student and work full-time at the same time. This would mean I have to work nights and weekends, but I would at least be able to establish myself in a job and prove what a good worker I am so when the boss finds out I dropped out of high school he wouldn't be so mad. Also, I could keep the fact that I have dropped out from my parents by pretending to go to school in the morning and then coming home to sleep while they are at work.

I am pretty sure my plan is fool-proof, but I wanted to run it by someone before I do it. I don't want to tell anyone because my Mom always says that once you tell someone a secret it is no longer a secret. Can you see any downfalls with my plan?

Ready For The Real World

Dear Ready For The Real World:

Starting life in the "real world" based upon a lie is not a good way to start at all. If you are not brave enough to own your decisions than you are not brave enough to face the world on its terms. Based upon the poor grammar and number of spelling errors (all of which I corrected) I am going to assume that English is one of the subjects you are failing. Having a poor grasp on this subject is going to limit the types of job for which you will qualify. Even if your job does not require you to write, most jobs require you to be able to understand written instructions. This is where a high school education will come in handy.

I commend you on your plan to test for a GED, but there is no guarantee that you will pass the test, and you will have to study for it, just as you would for any other test you take in school. The only difference is that this test is a much larger one with a lot more riding on it.

If you were to work full time and not attend school, you would eventually be dropped from the rolls. Depending on your school district you may be dropped after as little as one month of unexcused absences. In the meantime, the school would be calling your parents to report your absence as well as the truant officer to search for and locate you. If you think your parents are upset with you now, wait and see how upset they will be if you follow through with your plan.

If you have not been tested for learning handicaps (dyslexia, ADD, or other issues that can make learning difficult) I suggest you go to your guidance counselor and ask for a screening. Your hatred of school may stem from your poor grades, which may in turn stem from a learning disorder that has gone undiscovered.

I strongly urge you to complete your high school education, but if you are set on dropping out than I strongly suggest you be honest about it.


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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mother Not Amused By Young Son's Obsession With Toy Guns

Dear Tazi:

My young son "Ralphie" is positively obsessed with guns. Right now, he is too young to handle a real gun - even an air rifle - but he loves the toy guns he finds at his friends houses and, since I will not allow such toys in my house (I feel that they promote violence) Ralphie will make a gun-like motion with his thumb and forefinger and pretend to shoot, saying "bang bang" as he aims at anything that moves.

I have tried everything to dissuade Ralphie's interest in guns, running the gamut from punishment to rewards, but nothing works! I am afraid I am raising a little Charlton Heston and this is not what I want! Ralphie's father is not a part of his life, so I do not know where this obsession came from, but I would like some advice on how to end it!


Dear Peacemaker:

I can understand your concern about your young son's obsession with guns; but please understand that an obsession with guns does not necessarily translate into an obsession with violence. There is a well-defined line between fantasy-play and reality. The next time Ralphie points his pretend finger-gun at you - or another living creature - take a moment to sit him down and ask why he would want to shoot someone. If he gives a response that indicates that he is just playing (and this type of response can range from "because the dog is secretly an alien" to "because the cat is a bad guy") put your concerns to rest that your son is not the next Son of Sam. You should also take this moment to briefly explain to your son that guns upset you, and to please not "shoot" while in the house. According to, this means talking with him, not to him. Ralphie's understanding of how a real gun works - and the damage one can cause - is probably much less developed than you realize.

As for where your son's gun obsession could have come from, that is anybody's guess. Some child psychiatrists (which I am not) believe that boys have a genetic predisposition to aggressive behavior, and an interest in guns is an off-shoot of this programming. If Ralphie is interested in other toys and activities besides guns - such as sports, games, children's books, and other age-appropriate activities - I would dial down the worry several notches. If Ralphie's "obsession" with guns is to the point where he ignores all other toys, I suggest that you speak to his pediatrician about his psychological development. It could be he is just going through a phase, or it could be that there is an underlying cause for Ralphie's fixation on one particular thing (in this case, guns).

Regardless of how deep Ralphie's gun obsession is, here are some tips courtesy of on how to talk to your son about his gun-play:

Talk with your kids
Instead of talking at your son about guns (“Guns are dangerous!” “Don’t do that!”) talk with him. His understanding of guns is probably less sophisticated than you think.

Ask open-ended questions to acknowledge the play and spur conversation: “Looks like you’re having fun. What are you doing?” And gently but consistently underscore the difference between real and toy guns by emphasizing how much fun it is to “pretend.”

Limit your child’s exposure to violence on TV or in video games
“I think exposure to violence on TV or video games should be a greater concern to parents than gun play,” says Joshua Weiner, an Arlington, Virginia-based psychiatrist who specializes in children and adolescents. “Repeated exposure has been demonstrated in studies to desensitize kids to violence. It is important to limit this exposure, especially in younger kids.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids be exposed to no more than one to two hours of “quality [television] programming” per day.

Monitor, don’t necessarily prohibit, your child’s gun play
As long as playing with toy guns doesn’t dominate a child’s time, it’s okay to let him explore it...provided a parent or trusted adult is watching.

“Many young kids (under age five) don't even understand what shooting someone really means,” says Weiner. “The shooting is more about power, fantasy and imagination—not killing and death.” That said, “If all your son wants to do is engage in gun play, you need to place limits like you would on any other activity done in excess,” Weiner notes. “In this case, parents should consider taking the guns away and talking with their child about their concerns.”

If you’re going to buy a toy gun, make sure it really looks like a toy

Encourage “target practice.”
Achieving the simple goal of hitting a target with a foam-ball gun can be extremely satisfying for an active little boy, and it helps develop hand-eye coordination to boot. Just draw a bull’s-eye on a white board or make a pyramid of empty soda cans, and you’re good to go, says Kelly Moore, a mom of three from Denver, Colorado. There’s an added benefit, she says: “The boys can be competitive and have fun without accidentally hurting each other.”

Teach proper gun safety
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth pointing out: if you choose to have real guns in your home, it’s imperative to help your children understand and respect their power.

Again, these tips are courtesy of To read the full article, click here.


P.S. You mention that Ralphie's father is not a part of his life. I do hope that he has other active, positive male role models in his life, or this could lead to other developmental issues down the road.

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Religious Misunderstandings Lead To A Host Of Problems In This Relationship

Dear Tazi:

I will be graduating college in a few months, and my boyfriend of six months suggests that we get married.  I love him very much, and think I would like to marry him.  There is just one problem: He is Muslim and I am Catholic.  I did not think our difference in religion would be difficult to overcome.  I am a strict Catholic - no sex, no drugs, no rock and roll - and he is a strict Muslim.  While discussing marriage, I have discovered just how strict.

"Mohammad" would like me to convert to Islam before we marry, and expects me to follow all of the laws of Islam, including wearing a hijab [Islamic face veil], staying at home instead of working, and being obedient to his word.  I was quite taken aback by these requests and asked Mohammad how he would feel if I asked the same of him.  He replied that such a request is both culturally and religiously out of the question that "your Bible states that women should obey their husbands; your culture requires you to take your husband's last name, making you his subservient".  Tazi, I never thought about things this way!

I am now very confused about everything I have always believed!  Yes, the Bible says to obey my husband; but that is Old Testament stuff, written back when women were considered property.  Is there a more modern translation?  And as for changing my last name, that is tradition!  It does not mean I am subservient to my husband, does it?

I am 22 years old, and am no longer sure of my place in the world.  I love my boyfriend, but am no longer sure of how much.  I don't want to abandon my religion, but looking at what the Bible says, I feel like it does not respect me as a woman.  Do you have any answers for me, Tazi?

Devoted, But No Longer Hopelessly

Dear Devoted But No Longer Hopelessly:

It is not a good idea to take anything religious or cultural at face value.  That is how you end up feeling confused and dispirited as you are now.  Mohammed is correct that the Bible tells women to "submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22), but it also says - a few verses later - "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25).  

What does this all mean?  Back when these verses were written, women were property of their husbands, and punishments for being disobedient were quite primitive.  The Biblical demand of wifely obedience was promoting a woman's best interests.  The sticking point is the second verse, ordering husbands to love their wives - to the point of ultimate respect, even to the point where they would give their lives for them.  This verse suggests that a husband should always put his wife's care above his own, and put her best interests above his own desires.  (For example, if the wife is not feeling well the husband is Biblically commanded not to demand sex with her).  Could you "obey" a man who would treat you in this manner?  Can Mohammad be this type of man?  Rather than question your religious beliefs, question your boyfriend.

As for the cultural practice of taking your husband's last name upon marriage, this did originate as a sign of ownership - but then so did the engagement/wedding ring, the printing of a bride's photo in the paper (announcing that she is off the market) and other traditions Americans consider sacred.  The continued practice of these cherished traditions does not mean that the original meaning still applies.

I, personally, find the Spanish tradition of a bride keeping her maiden name and adding "de + her husband's name" quite charming - the literal meaning being she is now of her husband's family, while still retaining her identity.  Here in America, women will follow this tradition by hyphenating their last name with their maiden name, and many families make allowances for differences in religion.  I have family members who are of mixed beliefs, and the traditions of both religions are honored (if not practiced) in their homes.  All of these points are things you can discuss with Mohammed as you try to figure out if you still have a future together.

For further counsel, I suggest you talk over your issues with a clergy member - a priest or a religious brother/sister - or a layperson who works as a spiritual adviser.  Most college campuses have some form of campus ministry, and its members are trained to work with young people.


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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Inspired Writer Loses Sight Of All Else, Including Respect For Others

Dear Tazi:

My wife considers herself a budding author, and I want to be supportive of her in her attempts to write a novel.  She has always been supportive of me when I have had dreams to follow, but I feel I have reached the point where I need to put my foot DOWN.  My wife, on the other hand, is arguing that I am not trying hard enough to see her side of things and that I owe her an apology for being controlling and stepping on her dream.

"Nancy" decided she wanted to write a book when she saw how successful some bloggers can be when they publish their work in e-text format.  Since self-publishing is free, Nancy decided that she would follow her lifelong dream of writing a novel, since publishing it would not dip into our household budget.  With my wife being a stay-at-home-mom to our one year old daughter, money is tight.  However, I realize the need for a creative outlet and have tried my best to be supportive.

I have worked to respect Nancy's "creative time" and am helping out more around the house and with our daughter's care after work.  I am enjoying the extra Daddy time, and feel that by doing this I am being both a supportive husband and a good father.  Nancy has not complimented me once, saying as a father it is my job to help out when I am home (I work 12-hour shifts).

Nancy has taken to carrying a notebook with her wherever she goes because "you never know when inspiration will strike!"  Nancy keeps the notebook by our bed and writes when she wakes up in the middle of the night with ideas for her story.  My sleep is interrupted as well when this happens, but I keep quiet about it and try to be supportive.  Nancy will be struck by inspiration while we are out on a date (a rare treat), eating dinner, and other times that are inconvenient.  I have tolerated these interruptions until now.

Last week there was a memorial mass at church for my dearly departed mother.  During the middle of the pastor's sermon, Nancy got up and moved to the back of the church.  I was not sure if she was okay until I saw that [darn] notebook of hers!  Apparently, "inspiration" had struck right in the middle of my mother's mass and Nancy felt that it was OK to follow it!

After mass, I told Nancy that from now on when we go out the notebook stays home; that her behavior during mass was inconsiderate and inexcusable.  Nancy got upset and told me that if she didn't stop to write she would have been unable to concentrate on anything but her idea and would not have been fully engaged in my mother's mass anyway.  Nancy furthered that I should be complimented that the memory of my mother "brought on an inspiration" for her book.

It has been a week and things are still tense between us, with each of us believing the other owes an apology and an attitude adjustment.  How do you rule on this one, Tazi?

Not a Writer

Dear Not a Writer:

Nancy's behavior was way off course.  She should never have brought her writing notebook to church.  A memorial mass is generally one hour.  If she was unable to be both physically and spiritually present during this important event than she should have excused herself and left the church, not sat in the back of the church while journaling her ideas.  Ideally, she would have shuffled her idea into the back of her thoughts until after the mass!

I often assised my Mommie in the writing of research papers and scholarly commentary, both of which can require a great deal of inspiration (which is what I provide!).

Inspiration can strike at any time or place, so your wife is smart to carry a notebook, but one must also learn to control the urge to immediately act on those inspirations.  Rather than write an entire page (or more) of text, Nancy should simply file away the main point(s) and - at a more appropriate time - jot them down on a memo pad for future reference.  Once the idea is further examined and fleshed out, not every point of inspiration sounds as great as it initially did.

An unobtrusive way to take notes is to excuse yourself to the restroom and record your thoughts.  Many phones offer a voice-record memo feature that can be used for this purpose.  Since speaking is quicker than writing, it will take Nancy much less time to record her thoughts; thus lessening the creative intrusion.  Furthermore, hearing your idea played back in your own voice can confirm or contradict your original feelings on just how brilliant an idea really is.  I believe that this could make for a fair compromise between you and Nancy.

As for who owes who an apology: It appears to me that Nancy is throwing herself into her work with great fervor - to the point where she is not considering your needs.  For this, she owes you an apology; not only for her poor showing in church but for her attitude towards you at home.  I believe that you owe your wife an apology for losing your temper with her; she is not a child, she is your wife and your equal.  Talking down to her was not right, but understandable considering your lack of sleep.  I suggest you both try to start fresh by offering each other a kiss and a snuggle - or whatever it is you humans do behind closed doors.


P.S.  Nancy might find inspiration in my list of Tazi's Rules for Successful Writing, a compilation of lessons learned from the Writing and Rhetoric professors at the University of Rhode Island!

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Man Discovers Court Of Public Opinion Much Harsher Than Divorce Court

Dear Tazi:

I am recently divorced, and by recently I mean the ink is barely dry on the decree. Although the divorce court gave me a fair settlement, I still feel cheated because that is the only place I got treated fairly.

I left my wife of seven years because she had absolutely no interest in sex.  I thought she might have been frigid, but when I encouraged her to go to a doctor she refused, telling me that I was the one with the problem; that she had no problem with the lack of sexual intimacy in our marriage.

When I finally left the marriage, nobody could believe I would leave as wonderful a woman as "Maria".  Maria is a wonderful woman, Tazi.  She is kind, compassionate, educated, hard-working, humorous, faithful, and a joy to spend time with outside the bedroom.  Her lack of interest in sex is really what killed our marriage.  I felt like I was living with a friend and not a wife.  I was not about to reveal such personal details to our friends and community, so when people asked me what went wrong I simply replied that our lives had reached divergent paths and we were each going to go our own way.  People figured that I was at fault for the divorce, but I kept my mouth shut and let them think what they wanted.  I thought that this was what Marie deserved, but I have since changed my mind!

While visiting a bar last week, I overheard a man talking to his friend about the woman he had started seeing a few months before.  I smiled when he said he was thinking of introducing her to his friends, remembering how it was like when I had first started dating Marie.  The man went on to describe the pleasures of his relationship and even mentioned how the sex was "mind blowing".  I continued to listen in because, at this point I was interested in learning what would be said next, when I discovered that the girlfriend in question was my ex-wife!  At first I thought there was no way, but the details he shared with his friend about what she looked like, where she lived and - the coup de gras - her amazing chocolate chip cookies, I knew he could not be talking about anyone else.

I left the bar immediately and went back to my old home, where Marie is still living while we try to sell the house.  When confronted, she made no secret that she had started seeing someone, had indeed baked cookies for him - and done a lot more than that in the bedroom!  When I called her out for holding out on me, she responded that she had not been holding out on me; she simply had no desire for me.

After hearing this, I decided that the gloves were off and sent a mass email to all of my friends and family, telling them exactly why my marriage ended - that Marie was frigid and refused medical help and that I could take it no longer.  The next day I was inundated with responses, via email, telephone, and even in person with people telling me how wrong I was to send such an email. My sister even called me a "classless toad" and told me that I could forget coming over for Christmas if I did not apologize to Marie for my behavior.  My best friend told me his wife said to relay the same message if I asked about spending the holidays with them.

Tazi, I think I am the one who is owed an apology here!  I am the one who stayed in a sexless marriage for seven years in an attempt to make it work, and now that it is over some other guy is getting what should have been mine!  Where's the compassion for my side of the story?  Why is everyone rallying around Marie?

Not a Classless Toad

Dear Not a Classless Toad:

Maybe you are a classless toad, and maybe you are not; however, the behavior you have recently exhibited is that of a classless toad. You not only eavesdropped on a private conversation; you publicly denounced your ex-wife as "frigid" (which is a medical condition, and obviously one she does not suffer), both through your email and again in your letter to me.  People often ask me why I use pseudonyms in my column; your letter is a perfect example of why!

I am sorry that your marriage ended so badly.  Has it occurred to you that there might be a reason other than frigidity that your wife refused you in the bedroom?  You describe her as "a wonderful woman" and "a joy to spend time with outside the bedroom".  Did you treat her like a wonderful woman who was a joy to be around when you were outside of the bedroom?  Or was the only time you took any notice of her after lights out?  Did you ever help her out around the house, compliment a tasty meal, take her out for a night on the town, or simply tell her how much she meant to you?  Or did you ignore her until bedtime and then expect her to be hot to trot for you?

You mention nothing of your own behavior in your letter, nothing of your own attempts to woo your wife, so I cannot be certain why she refused you so often.  Only you can answer that question; all I can give you is food for thought.  As for who owes who an apology, it is you who owe Marie one for publicly tearing her down.  The time to talk about her sex life - or lack thereof - was while you were still married, not now that she is a free woman.

Perfunctory Snuggles (but only because it's Christmastime),

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Persecuted" Man Needs To Accept Personal Responsibility For His Actions

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I know that life is not fair, but why is it that I am persecuted more than others? I am currently unemployed because at my last job they kept changing my weekly hours to accommodate their scheduling needs without regard to my personal schedule. I finally got sick of having to choose between canceling my plans and not getting paid, so I quit, figuring I could collect unemployment on the basis of discrimination because I was the only person whose schedule was ever changed around like this. They say it was because I listed "open to close" as my availability when I applied for the job, which I did, but still! Nobody takes that to mean somebody is willing to live their life around work instead of work around their life! Do you see what I mean about being persecuted? My unemployment was denied, so I am now without an income or a reference from my former employer, making it even more difficult to find work.

Because of my employment situation, I have fallen behind on my child support payments to my ex-girlfriend for our son. My mother has been making the payments for me so "her grandchild" will not have to go without, but then she turns around and tells me that the payments are a "loan that [she] doesn't expect to be repaid". She said she will simply not purchase me any Christmas or birthday presents for the foreseeable future, and that any remaining debt will be subtracted from my inheritance when she passes. Talk about unfair! One minute, my son is "her grandchild" and the next his care is my sole financial responsibility!

On top of all this, my son's mother "Cherri" got married this past summer and is now moving two hours away! It is bad enough that she has sole custody of our son, but now another man gets to play the part of my son's Dad while I am the one stuck paying child support! Cherri's husband makes well over $100,000 a year, so they do not need my money, but they are taking it "on principle". Once again, life is kicking me while I am down.

Further complicating matters is the fact that my current mode of transportation is unreliable and I cannot depend on it to make a 4-hour round trip to see my son every other weekend, so I now only get to see him once a month, when his mother brings him down to visit with my Mom. This situation is not acceptable, but when I took Cherri to court to demand more visitation the judge sided with her, saying if I want increased visitation I should find a way to take advantage of the twice weekly and regular weekend visits I have already been granted. The judge completely ignored the fact that I don't have reliable transportation and therefore it should be Cherri's responsibility to bring our son to me. A boy needs time with his real Dad! Now on top of losing the case I owe my Mom even more money for attorney's fees, which the judge ruled I must pay. Persecuted again!

Icing this cake of persecution, Cherri is now pregnant and my son is excited about "becoming a big brother". I feel like this baby will be the nail in the coffin on my relationship with my son, as he will want to spend more and more time with his "new family" than with me. Like I said, life keeps kicking me when I am down. I would like Cherri to explain to our son that this baby will only be his half-sibling, and not a real brother or sister, just like his step-father is not his real Dad. I suggested this to her, and she had the nerve to laugh in my face! How can I get her to take my concerns seriously? About additional visitation, as well as the other issues?

Dumped On By Life

Dear Dumped On:

I don't usually publish letters as lengthy as yours, but I was afraid if I edited it any further than I already have - or simply did not respond to it - you would feel that I, too, am "persecuting" you by censoring your voice. In all your rambling, however, you forgot to mention one important fact: What is your current living arrangement? Do you live in your mother's basement? Or do you have a girlfriend that pays your rent? Or maybe you live in your current (but unreliable) form of transportation? I am just curious to know how you are managing to stay off of the streets and out of the homeless shelter with no income and no apparent savings while being "persecuted" from all sides. Surely you have some sort of support system in place?

Having a mom who pays your child support so your son does not have to go without (and so you do not lose your visitation) and also pays your attorney's fees hardly seems to me like a form of persecution, so I would suggest you ease up on her. As for your unemployment situation, you are the one who quit your job without securing alternate employment, so this strikes me as your own poor decision making as opposed to persecution by your employer or the unemployment office. The fact that your former employer kept changing your weekly hours is unfortunate, but well within their rights.

I get the impression that you love your son and want to spend time with him, but only when it is convenient for you and then only on your terms. I realize that a four-hour round trip is a long way to travel in unreliable transportation, but there are other ways to communicate and visit with your son. A virtual visit through a webcam is free, and a wonderful way to spend time with your son on a daily basis. Phone calls are also a wonderful way to stay in touch between in-person visits.

As for your attitude towards your son's "new family": it stinks! When Cherri and her husband got married, her husband got an instant family. The fact that you fear your son is seeing this man as an additional Dad reveals to me that the man treats your son well. For this, you should feel grateful, not persecuted. I suggest you make an effort to be a more active presence in your son's life (even if this means getting to know Cherri's new husband, and accepting your son's joy at becoming a big brother) and stop complaining about having to pay child support. Children hear more than you realize, and it would be a shame if your son overheard you complaining about your financial responsibility to him.

Perhaps the reason you feel so persecuted is because it is easier to blame the world for the problems that are of your own making than it is to take ownership of them. Try taking responsibility for your mistakes, straightening out your financial situation (preferably with a paying job, and not more “loans” from your Mom), and making the sacrifices that are required of you to be a good parent. Maybe then Cherri, your mother, and others will start to take your concerns seriously.

-- Tazi-Kat

(No snuggles for you!)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Brother's Gift Selection Appears To Have A Hidden Message

Dear Tazi-Kat:

My birthday falls the day after Christmas, so I am one of those people who get all of their gifts at once. Growing up, my older brother was always jealous that I got more gifts than he did at this time of year, forgetting that he got a pile of birthday gifts every summer while I went without. I think this is why he buys me the worst gifts every Christmas! I don’t mean gifts that lack thought; but gifts that truly make me wonder if he hates me – things like gas station coffee mugs, Girls Gone Wild DVD’s, and other items of questionable taste.

Last year, after giving me a particularly offensive gift (a subscription to a political magazine that goes against my every belief), I politely and privately told him to please return the purchase and keep the money; that I would rather he save his cash than spend it on something I could not use or would not enjoy. I thought he was okay with things until this Thanksgiving. We were all gathered around the table as a family when he announced that he would not be buying me a gift this year since I was "such a spoiled ingrate" who is "unable to appreciate the spirit in which a gift is given". This led to my mother leaping to my defense (she, too, found his gift to me to be in poor taste), and a huge argument between the two of them ensued, with my brother accusing both of my parents of favoring me over him.

It has been over a week, and my brother has not called, emailed, or communicated in any way with my parents or me. He is not returning phone calls or emails, either. My mother wants to apologize for hurting his feelings; my father feels that my brother is the one who should be apologizing; and I am feeling stuck in the middle of all this. I don't even feel like celebrating Christmas or my birthday this year because of all the hurt feelings everyone is experiencing, but I will be turning 30 this year and a big family party has been planned in my honor, with family coming in from out-of-state to celebrate with us. Do you have any suggestions on how to get things back on track with my family, Tazi-Kat?

"Little" Brother With A Big Problem

Dear Little Brother:

It sounds to me as if your older brother is carrying around several years’ worth of aggression towards you. As the older of the two, it seems that he feels the need to offer you guidance and direction onto what he feels is the correct path in life - thus the gift of political materials (although I am not sure what message he was trying to send with the Girls Gone Wild DVD). In his eyes, your rejection of his gift was also a rejection of his personal beliefs; which stings coming from anybody, but especially from a younger sibling. Combine this sense of rejection with a lifetime of feeling short-changed around the holidays, and your brother's sad attempt to embarrass you at the Thanksgiving dinner table makes much more sense.

If you want to heal this rift between your brother and your family, you will have to take a more direct approach, since indirect messages are not getting a response. I suggest that you request a face-to-face meeting with him in order to air the issues that are obviously upsetting him. Once accepted, explain to him that you did not mean to come off as unappreciative of his gift; but that you truly found it to be in poor taste, and thought it to be more of a personal jab than a sincere gift of the season. Let the conversation, however difficult, flow from there. If your brother is unable to see things from any point of view other than his own; then know that you at least tried to mend the rift between the two of you. It is not fair of him to expect you to deny your beliefs in order to satisfy his ego.

As for the rift between your brother and your parents, that is for them to resolve. You cannot be responsible for the dynamic between them, which appears to be very complicated. Although it is my hope that your brother will show up to Christmas dinner and/or your birthday party (if only for the sake of keeping up appearances), if he chooses to exclude himself from this year's celebrations, this is his choice to make. You - or your parents - do not need to make excuses for him. If the rest of your family asks about him, simply smile and tell them that you will let him know that they were asking about him, then change the subject to a blatantly neutral topic of conversation, like the weather. People will get the hint that your brother's absence is a sore subject, and will hopefully let it drop.

Family is so very important in life. They are all we truly have when all else is gone; so I urge you not to give up on your brother – even if it means giving him some space through the holiday season and trying again in the New Year. Family counseling with a licensed social worker might be just the thing to help, since it is obvious that your brother is desperate to be heard.

-- Tazi-Kat

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mother-In-Law's Generosity Makes Couple Uncomfortable In More Ways Than One

Dear Tazi:

My mother-in-law is driving me nuts. I know that is the complaint of many, but things have reached a point where I am going to lose it on her if I don't get some help.

"Maisie" is a sweet, thoughtful woman on a very limited budget. She loves to give gifts, in spite of the fact that she cannot afford to give them and always gives them above my wife's and my protests to save her money for the things she needs. Whenever Maisie overhears my wife or I mention something we need or would simply like to have, she runs out to buy it for us. The problem is, she buys a much cheaper brand/value than we would purchase to fill our needs. We tried to solve the problem by returning the merchandise for credit, but that deeply hurt Maisie's feelings. Now, we simply try not to speak about our needs/wants within Maisie's earshot, which can be quite difficult. I am a contractor; my schedule varies and I am often home during the day. My wife is a homemaker and Maisie lives close by, which means she usually stops in to visit on a daily basis.

While doing laundry, my wife mentioned to me that we should look into buying some new bed-sheets, since January is when many stores have their home-linens on sale. What she did not realize was that her mother had just entered the house and heard my wife comment on the need for new bed-sheets. The next week, Maisie showed up with not one, but TWO sets on king-sized bed-sheets that she "got for a steal online". Maisie was glowing over her gift to us, going on and on about how the sheets were "1200 thread count Egyptian cotton!" and how she got both sets for less than $50 total. Upon hearing this, we knew there was going to be a problem.

King-sized bed sheets are famously expensive, and a set of Egyptian cotton 1200 thread count sheets retail for a couple hundred dollars or more. Sure enough, the sheets Maisie bought for us are a cheap microfiber by the brand name "Egyptian Comfort". My wife suffers from sensitive skin (for which she sees a dermatologist) and cannot sleep on these sheets. We tried - for the sake of her mother - and my wife woke up in the middle of the night with a horrible, itchy rash.

My wife politely approached Maisie with the sheets, and asked her to return them since we cannot use them. Maisie insists that the sheets are not the cause of my wife's rash and that we are "ungrateful snobs". Now, she is not speaking to either of us. I realize that most men would find this a dream come true; but my wife's heart is breaking over the fact that her mother will not speak to her. Any advice on what we should do next, Tazi? My wife and I aren't snobs, nor are we ungrateful. We just prefer to buy quality products that will last - and not give my wife hives.

A Guy Who Loves His Wife

P.S. Just for the record, I am not a girly-man. I had no idea what "home-linens" were until my wife explained it to me. Ditto with the cost of 1200 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.

Dear A Guy Who Loves His Wife:

I am a guy, and I love the silky softness of high thread count sheets! My Mommie, however, does not love when I sit on her silky soft sheets, claiming I shed vigorously all over them. Like your wife, my Mommie also has sensitive skin issues and cannot sleep on microfiber sheets (or, apparently, sheets covered in cat hair). Please tell Maisie that your wife is not making excuses to turn down her thoughtful gift; that others have similar problems as your wife when it comes to synthetic fabrics.

The larger issue seems to be Maisie's desire to give. In returning her gift, she took it as a return of her love for you and her daughter. To explain to her that you "prefer to buy quality products that will last" would be a huge mistake, and it will add insult to injury. Rather, explain to Maisie that you and your wife are rather set in your ways when it comes to purchasing home goods (that's stuff for the house, manly man!) and that you have developed a sense of loyalty for a few, specific brands that have met your expectations in the past. Brand loyalty is rare nowadays, in a world where everyone wants the lowest price; but back when Maisie was younger almost everyone practiced it.

To indulge Maisie's desire to give, why not give suggestions of ways that she can give of herself? Start small, by asking if she could "start a pot of coffee" while you and your wife are doing other things. If you show appreciation for her efforts, in time Maisie might find herself comfortable doing other little things to assist you that do not involve spending money (or a lot of it, anyway). She might decide to surprise you by bringing over sandwiches for lunch or a pound of your favorite ground coffee. If you have children, you could ask Maisie to watch them for an hour or two while you and/or your wife go grocery shopping or run errands.

With a little thought and creativity, you will discover that there are many ways for Maisie to indulge her generous spirit that will also accommodate and balance your needs, as well. However, the first step in this whole process is to get Maisie talking to you again. If she refuses to listen to you, try writing things down in a handwritten letter. There is something about the written word that women find soothing.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Birth Control, Sex Life A Private Matter

Dear Tazi:

My husband and I are having an argument over an embarrassing topic, and we need a neutral third party to settle it. I cannot take birth control pills because they make me sick; I hate the way a diaphragm feels; and an IUD is too expensive. My husband "Xander" will not have a vasectomy, so as a solution to this problem we use condoms. Because we are married, we don't want the whole world to know this - like I said, it is embarrassing.

On our last trip to the local drugstore to pick up a few prescriptions and what not, Xander decided to grab a large box of Trojan vibrating condoms (which is not what we use!) and loudly ask me from ten feet away, "Honey, do we need more condoms?" as he shook the box for emphasis. Angry and humiliated, I shouted back, "No dear; we still have plenty at home!". Xander feels that in saying this, I was announcing to the entire (rather crowded) store that we don't have sex very often; I feel that he basically announced to the store that we have a kinky sex life and that we are constantly going at each other. At this point, I do not want Xander touching me until he apologizes; but he feels that I owe him an apology. Who do you think is right, Tazi?

Holding Out

Dear Holding Out:

Your story reminds me of one my Mommie once heard, while working in a pharmacy. A woman shyly walked in to buy a box of condoms, and the pharmacist asked her "what size?", referring to the size package she wanted. The woman, not understanding the question, responded, "Well, to tell you the truth, my husband is on the small side..."

I share this story with you so that you and Xander can see that there are much more memorable conversations that occur at the pharmacy, and that your tiff probably does not even make it into the Top 10! Xander was wrong to make such a public announcement in a crowded store, knowing that you would prefer to keep your method of birth control a private matter. A Tazi Paw Tap of Disgust to his nose for breaking your confidence!

I have to add, though, that your smart-remark right back to Xander, while difficult to resist, obviously hurt his feelings. If this is the first time that Xander has broken your confidence, I would let it slide and offer an apology to him in return for an apology from him. Once apologies have been given, I suggest you kiss and make-up. Marriage is difficult enough without holding a grudge over a bruised ego.


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