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Thursday, August 23, 2012

137

Cheryl Strayed, Cary Tennis, Emily Yoffe, and Lynn Coady Walk Into a "Bar"

Are there common threads or themes that you see over and over in the questions you get? Questions that seem to be real problems in a lot of people’s lives that they keep writing in about in variations?

Cheryl: Yes, a ton. There are a lot of people with broken hearts. And they’ll never get over so and so leaving them.

Emily: Yeah, I never run those because the answer is the same and it’s very boring. It’s just, “Move forward.” The guy I thought I’d kill myself over when I was 27 I can’t remember the name of now. There are some big general categories. One is cubicle land. The horrors of the farters, the breathers, the hummers, the eaters. I can only do a limited number of “My husband looks at porn.”

For Hazlitt magazine, Britt Harvey interviews four MVPs of the advice-giving world, and it is wonderful. "I answer a lot of questions that are unanswerable," says Cary, "because I’m not really answering them. I’m like singing a song. I’m trying to say something comforting." "I have no qualifications whatsoever," says Lynn. Okay I'll stop, but go read it!



137 Comments / Post A Comment

Sapphireblue

If Carolyn Hax wasn't involved, this piece is none but a big fat fraud.

Seriously, Emily Yoffe? Half her columns consist of shaming women with unplanned pregnancies, telling them that if they really loved their husbands they'd get over their rape trauma, and other toxic/annoying things that I've blocked from my memory.

purefog

@Sapphireblue I wouldn't go that far, but I would very much like to have seen Ms. Hax here, too.

Scandyhoovian

@Sapphireblue UGH yeah her advice is great... so long as you stay away from sex and alcohol and ANYTHING RELATING TO THOSE THINGS, at which point she becomes a Puritanical 1850s housewife whose #1 job is to please her husband and do what's best For The Children.

There was a letter a while back where the LW asked about what she should do when feeling violated by her husband (sex while drinking, so she felt taken advantage of) and Prudie told her in no uncertain terms "you're being ridiculous, sex with your husband is part of the deal when you marry someone." It was one of the more appalling things I've seen her write in a while.

Lily Rowan

@Sapphireblue HAAAAAX!!

Also, Emily Yoffe still thinks the twincest letter was real, which I don't.

Judith Slutler

@Scandyhoovian really, she gives some horrible advice to anyone who has been victimized in a scenario less clear-cut than "I was an angelic child under 10" or "a man jumped out of the bushes and abducted me".

@Lily Rowan OK now I am rushing to read that article. She's got to be covertly defending the way all advice columns occasionally run fake letters, right? Because no way was that letter real!

Scandyhoovian

@Emmanuelle Cunt I dunno, I think she's got a knack for interpersonal tensions (like "what do I do if my coworker's a dong" or "how do I handle a difficult mother-in-law" or "what do I say to someone who is telling me how to discipline my own child") but when it comes to sex/drugs/alcohol/abuse, she's obviously got personal trigger issues that keep her from keeping a level head when replying.

SarahP

@Scandyhoovian As someone who did a looooot of research on Puritans in grad school, I just want to point out that you're talking about Victorian people/mores, not Puritan. They were much cooler than Emily Yoffe!

You guys, I thought I was the only one who was harboring a love for Carolyn Hax.

OH and you know whom I don't like, either? Ask Amy. Her answers always bother me, which has translated to me resenting her whenever she's on "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me."

Scandyhoovian

@SarahP Noted! My field of study was modern Germany and everything on this side of WWII, so the Victorians/Puritans/etc./etc. are beyond my frame of Solid Knowledge.

And here I go cracking jokes! VICTORIANS. *fistshaking*

fabel

@Lily Rowan Whether or not it was real, I remember being pleasantly surprised that her answer was pretty much "eh, you know what, it's no bigs." (although yeah, other times I am horror-surprised at her answers to sex questions)

charmcity

@SarahP @Sapphireblue UGH and Amy always wins on Wait, Wait! Despite her irritating giggle and failure to contribute adequately to the banter. Give me Mo or give me death!

SarahP

@Scandyhoovian Ooo you and I should totally talk sometime, because my knowledge of the world ends after WWII.

@charmcity Ughhh her "contributions" to the banter are the worst. Mo, Paula Poundstone, and Tom Bodette are my dream team. (Though I'd accept PJ O'Rourke in place of Tom Bodette. Or Charlie Pierce because, well, hometown pride, and because of his hilarious laughter.)

anachronistique

@SarahP CHARLIE <3 <3 <3

Ophelia

@purefog Yeah, I came down here to be like, 'wait, what? No Carolyn??'

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@Sapphireblue I just pretended like Cheryl couldn't stand hearing her talk and that's why she kept saying, "what about you, Cary?"

faustbanana

@Sapphireblue Ugh, Ask Amy is such a prig. She harps on the lamest angles of the problem (e.g., if someone catches their teenager drinking in the basement, she will remind the writer that this is illegal and the kid could get in trouble, as opposed to focusing on WHY the kid is drinking in the basement) and pushes the idea that everyone should be close with their families, immediate and extended. Not everyone wants that, lady. And she's definitely in the Prudie camp of slut/drunk/druggie-shaming. Can't stand her! Of course, I still read her column every day. Know thine enemy.

maevemealone

@Scandyhoovian I know what letter you're referring to with the drunk sex wife, and that lady was super strange about sex. She and her husband were both drunk when they had consensual sex and then days later she decided that was rape. I didn't think Emily was off on that advice.

Lustful Cockmonster

@maevemealone I agree, while, yes, pressure for sex is always bad, I didn't really see the pressure part. I read it as the wife not feeling comfortable, after the fact, having had sex with her husband when they had both been drinking. I believe she even said that during both times she was excited and enjoying it and fully participating and only afterwards was mad. Even the way the wife wrote it just didn't strike me as having been pressured.

Obviously though, she was uncomfortable, and that does need addressing, I just didn't get it.

Scandyhoovian

@Grumplestiltskin @maevemealone I know that woman was odd about sex, but it really, really rubs me the wrong way when people get dismissive in situations where someone says they felt odd or violated. EVEN if it's off-base, just because you never know. There are so many cases of someone not coming out with something at all specifically because they feel like they're going to get told to get over it or that it "wasn't as bad as you're making it out to be," so it just sat so, so wrong with me. It felt very dismissive.

Lustful Cockmonster

@Scandyhoovian Oh without a doubt, no arguing with that. I remember thinking that her advice was cavalier, while at the same time thinking, ok, if these events played out exactly as told, I don't get it.

Elsajeni

@Lily Rowan I know! Come on, there is NO WAY that letter was real, for exactly the reason she cites: out of all the advice columns in the world, WHY WOULD THAT GUY WRITE TO PRUDIE.

mc coolfriend

@Sapphireblue Is "Ask Amy" Amy Alkon? I know her website is Advice Goddess, but still. Cuz I don't like her. All her answers to EVERYTHING are like, "blah blah blah evo psych oxytocin Greg courted me this way b/c of evo psych women can't have casual sex b/c evolutionary psychology and oxytocin convoluted snarky metaphor, also, oxytocin" and I don't even believe in evolutionary psychology, b/c evolution is not like, this magical force that pulls us helplessly away from conscious thought. It's just gradual changes in our bodies in response to the gradual changes in the world, is all.

Elsajeni

@maevemealone It was definitely weird, but what I thought when I read it was: if I'm the husband, and I had drunk sex with my wife once before and afterward she was horribly upset and felt violated, and it was this huge deal in our relationship... why the hell would I do it again?

maevemealone

@Elsajeni Why try it again? Because he's her husband, he's had some drinks he got frisky and his also drunk wife responded to his advances and they seemed to both enjoy it. The question is why did he marry someone who shames and manipulates him into feeling that his natural urges become an accusal of sexual assault anytime she changes her mind on whether she enjoyed herself.

Jill_Tata

That is a real possibility. @k

Scandyhoovian

As an advice column ADDICT, this is totally my bag, baby, yeah.

Alli525

@Scandyhoovian GOD me too, I could read them all day every day and really I just want to be an advice columnist.

But apparently all that you have to do to become one is (1) already be writing at a magazine, and (2) be in the right place at the right time. Which is bad news for me, because neither of those conditions describe my life but I am an excellent advice-giver!

Ophelia

@Alli525 That's pretty much how I became the person who wrote the horoscopes for my HS paper.

Slutface

What are some good online advice columns?

MoonBat

@Slutface Ask a Queer Chick, Ask a Married Dude, Ask a Pigeon.....

Scandyhoovian

@MoonBat Captain Awkward is faaaaantastic!

anachronistique

@Slutface Seconding Captain Awkward; she is fabulous and has a great stable of guest posters, and also maintains a really excellent comments section.

MoonBat

@Scandyhoovian
....aaaaannnnnnd, I just fell into a rabbit hole of amazing Captain Awkward columns, especially the ones on Creeping.

tessamae

@Slutface We are talking about her down-thread, but I have a deep love and affection for the one and only Miss Manners.

You can find her online at The Washington Post.

Slutface

@MoonBat Me too! I've been reading her for almost an hour now and added her to my reader. Thanks for the suggestion!

eustaceia

@tessamae Love Miss Manners!!!

Lyesmith

@Slutface Carolyn Hax and Captain Awkward are the best.

kingstitcher

@Slutface The Vine at Tomato Nation. Although lately it's like one personal advice letter a week and two or three "help me find a vaguely-remembered book from my childhood" and "help me replace my favorite shoes that just broke and they don't make the style anymore." Which, those questions have their place, but I like to read for Sars' advice, not crowdsourcing.

Stickynee

@Slutface I love "Ask A Manager" -- it's all work stuff and horrible bosses and can my employer really do this to me? And it gets updated like 5 times a day so there is always a new problem to read about!

emeegee

@kingstitcher Oh, seconded- The Vine is unique because Sars often probes the Asker's reasons for getting involved in the situation to begin with, which many advice column authors take for granted. She's supersharp and witty so even when she takes the Asker to task, it's not cutting or cruel.

Maladydee

@Slutface all the thumbs up for Captain Awkward. She has some of the best advice, especially for setting and maintaining personal boundaries, and the only other place on the internet where the commenting is as good as the hairpin.

Queen of Pickles

@Stickynee Yes for Ask A Manager! It's amazing. Now I give work advice to my friends, and am not entirely talking out my rear.

Quick Brown Fox

@tessamae

Miss Manners is inimitable, but to clarify, she writes an etiquette column, not an advice column. So while useful and highly entertaining, it doesn't provide quite the ridiculousness of the others. Carolyn Hax is my very favorite for plain old sensible advice. She's at washingtonpost.com. And Dear Prudence at Slate is awfully good (in the original sense of awful).

Heat Signature

I think it's actually advantageous that people giving advice don't have psychology backgrounds, largely because most psychologists have little grounding in real world experience and give advice based on what the current thinking dictates.

Bloodrocuted

@Heat Signature As a Psychology graduate student, I agree. It is far too tempting to diagnose a friend's boyfriend with an exciting psychosis than admit he is only feeling his privilege / being a tool.

Edit: Although, it does lighten the mood? "What if he has this (psychosis)? Because (morbid theory of his childhood)? And that's why (disrespectful assumption of his family)! HA-hahaha... In reality, I guess he just thinks you're available at the drop of a hat because he doesn't comprehend you as a whole human being."
And then take-out.

tea for all

i cannot stand cary tennis. he waffles on and on without ever really saying anything. also hax should definitely be on this list... and dear coquette (formerly coke talk) would have made it real interesting.

SarahP

@tea for all I love that he actually admits to not answering people's questions! But yeah, I never read him. His "answers" make me angry.

NeverOddOrEven

@tea for all
The first time I read that column I was so confused. There is nothing about that that qualifies as an advice column besides a reader question at the top. The rest is the worst kind of navel gazing. He sounds like my reports probably did in school - just a whole bunch of big words to flush out the page and make you look like you know what you're talking about.

Fiddle dee dee

@NeverOddOrEven

Cary Tennis is AWFUL. I am impressed that he admits that he does not answer questions.

His awfulness was brought into sharper relief by his following Garrison Kiellor in the role of agony aunt on that website. I am not particularly a fan of Garrison Kiellor, but I thought he was pretty good at that.

And yes, Carolyn Hax. She's great.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@tea for all He's so horrible. Putting him and Cheryl Strayed in the same article is so offensive to me.

Mira

@tea for all I don't know, Cary usually annoys the crap out of me, but I can also kind of appreciate his role as an advice columnist for people who don't actually have questions, you know? I think he's actually pretty good at answering the sorts of things that are like, "I'm vaguely unsatisfied but I don't know why, what should I do" rather than, you know, anything practical.

Mostly I just read his columns for the comments - he's got three or four regulars who are fantastic.

chevyvan

@tea for all I started out hating Cary Tennis, but now I kind of love him. He takes on kooky existential questions that no one else answers (except maybe Cheryl Strayed...but she's newer on the scene) and then answers them in his kooky way, e.g. "Just sit and breath and write poetry..."

werewolfbarmitzvah

"The guy I thought I’d kill myself over when I was 27 I can’t remember the name of now." ????? I can understand the "move forward" thing, but she felt that strongly about someone at the adult age of 27 and can't remember his name? YOU LIE LIKE A RUG, EMILY YOFFE.

Also, my brain put "the hummers, the eaters" together into "the hummus eaters."

SarahP

@werewolfbarmitzvah "I hate them because I WANT TO BE THEM."

Judith Slutler

@werewolfbarmitzvah OMG me too. I was like "what is wrong with my hummus eating, I always have gum to make sure I don't have garlic breath"

Scandyhoovian

@werewolfbarmitzvah considering the way she talks in her column I would not be surprised if Emily Yoffe had all encounters that came before her husband removed from her mind Eternal Sunshine style.

SarahP

@Scandyhoovian On the other hand, she remembers everything about her husband's past and talks about how accepting she is of it all pretty often.

Sapphireblue

@SarahP @Scandyhoovian I just want to say that this inaugural meeting of the Against Emily Yoffe Club is way more satisfying than I would've thought it would be.

(wait, I just Googled, and hold on, there was a WHOLE SERIES of Taffy Sinclair books? I need a moment to come to grips with this information.)

themegnapkin

@Sapphireblue @SarahP @Scandyhoovian "I just want to say that this inaugural meeting of the Against Emily Yoffe Club is way more satisfying than I would've thought it would be."
Fourthed. Her advice is terrible, and I wouldn't read her at all except that the letters she chooses to run are often awesome.

Ophelia

@themegnapkin And sometimes I just want to read her advice specifically to see just HOW horrible it will be.

Scandyhoovian

@themegnapkin I read her EVERY TIME, and it's because of the joy I get out of vehemently discussing with my friends JUST HOW MUCH we disagree with her and what we might have said in her place.

Carrie Ann

@Sapphireblue ALSO, there was a series after the Taffy Sinclair series, called the Fabulous Five and I owned all of them and no one else has ever read them. I loved those books. They filled the SVH-shaped hole in my heart after I decided at 13 I was done with Jessica and Elizabeth.

evil melis

HUMMUS EATERS it's like you're all TRYING to kill me today

Lila Fowler

"Yeah, I never run those because the answer is the same and it’s very boring. It’s just, 'Move forward.' The guy I thought I’d kill myself over when I was 27 I can’t remember the name of now."

It's comforting to know that my problems are boring. I need someone to rig up some kind of app that flashes "YOU'RE A NICE, WHOLE, INDEPENDENT PERSON. DO NOT CONTACT YOUR EX' every time I refresh my Facebook feed. Which is um, every 3 minutes? (I'm a nice, whole, independent person who needs a few non-Internet hobbies apparently. Aside from Pi Beta Alpha of course.)

themmases

@Lila Fowler Leech Block lets you choose what page to be redirected to from specific other pages (I am here in my 10 minutes I get every 2 hours). Put up a Tumblr page that says that and have at it. :D

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Lila Fowler I'm thinking of rushing Pi Beta Alpha this year. Any tips??

Danzig!

@themmases This is good advice

elbows on the table

oh, gosh, I haven't even read this yet but I think this may be the most amazing thing ever. Seriously, any type of advice column ever is my guilty pleasure. (I do miss the old Prudie, though.)

causedbycomma

@elbows on the table Ugh, I miss the old Prudie too. She was much nicer than the new one...

elbows on the table

@causedbycomma I mean, and her signoffs. "Prudie, wistfully" or whatever. COME ON NEW PRUDIE, GET IT TOGETHER.

themegnapkin

@elbows old Prudie still gives advice: http://www.wowowow.com/category/dear-margo/

elbows on the table

@themegnapkin THIS HAS MADE MY DAY. thank you.

Blushingflwr

I know I am not the only 'Pinner who harbors secret dreams of being an advice columnist.

Dear Prudence is one of the ones that drives me nuts, because I feel like I could give much better answers than she does.

But I like the Hairpin because the comments section to the advice columns is usually really supportive of the letter writers, and also acknowledging that we're only hearing one part of the story.

elbows on the table

@Blushingflwr This! This this this! I feel like that's sort of a result of the change from Old Prudie to New Prudence. (Or maybe I was always just too charmed with Old Prudie referring to herself in the third person, along with her other little mannerisms, to notice that her advice wasn't great.)

SarahP

You know whom I like? MISS MANNERS. I am all about manners!

You guys, can I do an etiquette column?! (Do people who aren't in their 60s have etiquette questions?)

SarahP

@SarahP Wait, of COURSE they do! You're all going to weddings like every weekend, you must have etiquette questions. PEOPLE. ASK ME.

SarahP

@SarahP Emily Post probably doesn't approve of all these capital letters.

elbows on the table

@SarahP I have an old, old copy (at my parents' house, sigh) of an etiquette book written in the early 1900s. It is glorious. Let's talk about calling cards.

tessamae

@SarahP I adore Miss Manners! Of all of the advice columns I have devoured over the years, her advice is the only stuff I routine use/parrot to others. I also have always loved how she starts her responses with "Gentle Reader:" THE BEST.

Sapphireblue

@SarahP MISS MANNERS OMG. This right here, from 1979, about the Equal Rights Amendment and "being ladylike," brings me nearly to tears: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1828&dat=19790825&id=Rh0fAAAAIBAJ&sjid=TacEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3193,4298638

Lu2
Lu2

@SarahP --I grew up on etiquette books and was already predisposed to being a bit old-fashioned, so imagine my surprise when I realized that the world I was living in did not currently care about things like "proper introductions" or the "implied" proper introduction constituted by the shared experience of being houseguests under the same roof. Any time you need an ambassador to be introduced to a cardinal, though, just call on me.

p.s. at my first job, age 16 (department store clerk), I was also surprised that I was supposed to call my department manager by his first name. MERCY! My discomfort on that count persisted for a number of years. I always suspected that bosses would think I was taking liberties.

Lu2
Lu2

@elbows on the table --yes, the secret code of turning down corners. Love it. I'm also a stickler for paper-related etiquette: the improper use of "stationery" for "writing paper," the informals, the vulgarity of pre-printed notes, the specifics of engraving ... luckily, none of this matters anymore because no one sends letters. Otherwise I'd be at my wit's end observing all the infractions. :) I'm awfully high-strung.

Lily Rowan

@SarahP There's a fair amount of etiquette (wedding and otherwise, but modern) in the NYTimes to this day!

OhMarie

@SarahP I also love Miss Manners so, so much. My mother has a few of her books and I read them cover to cover. I still don't write as many notes as I should, though. :(

NeverOddOrEven

@SarahP
You might hate me then, because my etiquette rule book would start and end with "Fuck 'em."
Yes. It would be called Everybody poops, pisses, farts, burps, scratches and fucks and the only text on the inside is "So get over it."

elbows on the table

@Lu2 Oh, let's be friends. I think I love you already.

teaandcakeordeath

@SarahP
There used to be an etiquette column in the Times and I used to love it! It was mostly fancy people asking the twee-est of behavioural questions.
The one that stands out was when a letter writer asked if it was ever socially acceptable for a guest to rearrange their host's toilet paper.

DO THIS!

SarahP

@NeverOddOrEven Most etiquette worth adhering to is based around the concept "don't be a dick to people." I think that's a good principle to stand by.

Greta M.

@SarahP Yes Miss Manners! I love how frequently her advice is that people should mind their own beeswax about other people's personal lives, but she says it in a charmingly witty way.

I specifically remember one reader asking what she should say when introduced to a gay couple and Miss Manners simply replying "How do you do?"

Lu2
Lu2

@elbows on the table --Yes! Shall we take a turn around the room?

elbows on the table

@Lu2 Oh yes! It is, after all, very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude.

Lu2
Lu2

@elbows on the table --I understand that you are quite accomplished at the pianoforte. Perhaps you will favor us with an air a bit later?

p.s. why did etiquette make me turn into a Jane Austen character? 'Tis folly!

elbows on the table

@Lu2 Certainly; perhaps I will play my father's favorite?

(I don't know, but it's perfect.)

Xanthophyllippa

@teaandcakeordeath Only if you're going to fold the entire roll into a giant origami swan.

teaandcakeordeath

@Xanthophyllippa
If I knew anyone who could do that I would invite them over as a recurring guest until I had a 1000 toilet paper swans.

elbows on the table

@Xanthophyllippa but then it will be far too pretty to use... maybe you should bring an extra roll for usage just in case.

Xanthophyllippa

@elbows on the table Fair point. I'll keep it hidden so no one feels tempted to rearrange it.

@teaandcakeordeath Then you could hang them from your ceiling!

teaandcakeordeath

@Xanthophyllippa
That's it. This is now the only acceptable etiquette for using another person's bathroom. You have to leave them an origami present. We are so smart.

Spooky Behaviour

YOU GUYS I JUST READ CHERYL STRAYED'S MEMOIR ('WILD') AND IT WAS AMAZING AND NOW I WANT TO HIKE FOR 3 MONTHS ALONE AND HEAL AND BE SOMEHOW CONNECTED TO HER PSYCHICALLY.

Her Sugar columns are the most tender internet writings ever. She is amazing.

Sapphireblue

@Spooky Behaviour confesh: I can take or leave her columns sometimes. BUT. I wanted "Wild" to never ever end.

MoonBat

@Sapphireblue I think that her writing is markedly self-absorbed sometimes, and that's distracting, but she does tackle some phenomenally tough letters/subjects, and does so with an outpouring of love and warmth.

Sapphireblue

@MoonBat breaking my five-minute-old silent pledge to stop hogging this whole comments page already to say you hit the nail on the head, re both sometimes-distracting writing but also warmth. Warmth is exactly the word that kept going through my head as I finished Wild and then had to figure out what on earth I'd read next that wouldn't be a big letdown by comparison.

KeLynn

@Spooky Behaviour - I....was let down by Wild. There weren't enough hiking details to be an adventure/outdoorsy story, and there weren't enough feelings to be a thought-provoking memoir. I felt like the whole thing was really just a long itinerary "I walked here, camped here, ate this, slept here, took a shower here, got a blister here" with just a few little worthwhile side stories built in. I finished it a few weeks ago but off the top of my head the only part I even remember feeling moved by was the story about the horse.

Spooky Behaviour

@KeLynn I was kind of relieved that there weren't more stories like that? I mean, I was expecting it to be one huge sob fest of poignant moments, like a super long version of that one column of hers about what advise she'd give herself when she was 22. I liked that the change and healing that happened to her on the hike was kind of slow burning, almost imperceptible, and that there wasn't a great 'aha' moment where all of a sudden things got better or easier but just that she slowly recovered enough to be able to go on. And I like that that was how she wrote it. It was different in that aspect from her columns, which I agree can be a bit self-absorbed sometimes but are always so incredibly tender and warm and seem to emanate strength (I think she gets away with the self-absorption because she's always still focussed on helping her readers, and one gets a feeling that she actually feels their pain), but I don't think I could read a whole memoir written in that style.

lavender gooms

I am listening to someone snapping her gum at her desk right now and IT IS KILLING ME.

Lu2
Lu2

@lavender gooms --I sympathize with you sincerely. I have a carrot-snapper in the cubicle next to me. Every day this happens. People, it is not necessary to bite off snappy foods with your lips parted. Try it the other way. The life you save may be your own.

ETA: also, if you have an mp3 player or something else with earphones, I definitely recommend donning them during this trying period.

lavender gooms

@Lu2 Yup. Headphones and spotify radio all the way. The afternoon seems to bring on a lot of... sinus noises from my various neighbors as well.

Lu2
Lu2

@lavender gooms --Oh, dear. Oh, dear me. It's a lot to deal with sometimes. The other day I was on the bus and a young man directly behind me was shouting on his phone about his sports injuries and kidney stones and uric acid levels, and my mp3 player battery ran out and ohhhh, it was terrible.

Xanthophyllippa

@lavender gooms My next-door office neighbor cleared her throat constantly, to the extent that I would have to go home for the day because I could hear it through the wall. Door shut + music were the only things that would block it out, but it just made me feel lonely and isolated.

mari d

@Lu2
Totally, my earphones have become a sanity-support system. You simply cannot get on public transporation in Los Angeles without them.

Im always afraid the battery is going to run out or, worse yet, I'll leave them in a drawer somewhere. I must check my purse at least 10 times every morning to make sure they're in there.

maybe partying will help

My favorite English professor in undergrad once mentioned that he had a set of the complete Miss Manners.

(He was awesome.)

And that about sums up my feelings about advice columnists. If Best Prof liked Miss Manners, she's probably ok, but I find reading advice columns a little anxiety-making.

Cat named Virtute

Wait wait, Lynn Coady, as in the Canadian novelist who wrote The Antagonist and Mean Boy?? She's an advice columnist?! How did I miss this?! I am such a huge fan of hers.

OhMarie

Nobody's mentioned sex advice stuff yet, so I will put in a word for that--as someone who grew up religious/repressed with sex ed that I would call passable at best, that stuff was invaluable in making me a functioning adult.

Loveline in middle school (I now recognize that they kind of suck, but they are good for the basics!) and Dan Savage in late high school and college changed my life.

Blushingflwr

@OhMarie I actually read a lot of the sex/health/relationship advice in Seventeen when I was growing up, and I think it was pretty smart and balanced, though it was big on the "you should only have sex when you're in love" which at least is better than "you should wait till you're married"

maybe partying will help

@OhMarie

I found Scarleteen's Q&A stuff (and all their other stuff) to be really useful when I was considering the cherry-pop. I was no longer a teenager, but it was still helpful and not judgey.

Megasus

OMG THAT WEBSITE LAYOUT. I HATE IT.

Decca

Why wasn't "The collected wisdom of comments in the Friday Open Threads" invited to this?

No, but seriously. I wish it were Friday right now. I have a lot on my mind!

Xanthophyllippa

@Decca Me too. Go ahead and put it out there now; seems like an appropriate column to make into an impromptu OT.

Decca

@Xanthophyllippa I'm moving to the UK in three weeks to start my MA, and after spending the whole summer telling everyone I can't wait and that I'm not nervous at all, I've suddenly decided to panic majorly. I've finally found a place to live - in a fantastic, homely, centrally-located house with three cool housemates - and instead of being happy, I'm feeling stressed about all the paperwork and agreements and etc. There's also paperwork to do for the MA course, and sorting out how to move my shit over, and yada yada. I'm just in a maelstrom of emails back and forth to my old college, my new college, my landlord, my new housemates etc and it's all making me panic and feel like I want to just dive back under the duvet and give up! But deep down I know it's all going to work out, and that once I'm settled in over there I'm going to love it. It's just this preparation period is making me anxious!

(Plus, I think I'm getting my period. A possible explanation for the sudden dread!)

Okay, you!

Xanthophyllippa

@Decca Ugh, that sucks!! But it'll all work out, like you say, and then you can look back on the current kerfluffle and feel pleased and a little embarrassed that it turned out fine.

My deal: too much work to do, too little time; supremely nervous over teaching a course I haven't taught before that's in another department entirely; feeling like I'm always the only one who doesn't have fascinating, fun weekend plans. And I only discover this when I try to make fascinating, fun weekend plans, because it turns out that everyone's fascinating, fun weekend plans are with each other. It's not like I don't have a phone or am only reachable by messenger via yak, or something.

Xanthophyllippa

@Decca Oh, and there is literally NOWHERE on campus that is not under construction. Everything is within earshot of a pneumatic drill, backhoe, jackhammer, or dump truck. All I want is to sit outside and fret about my syllabus, but noooooooooo.

Decca

@Xanthophyllippa That sounds insanely stressful! But I'm sure you wouldn't have been allowed teach this course if you weren't well able to do it. Is there a park or some green area near where you live that you could visit in the evenings or at the weekend and work on your syllabus there? It might be beneficial to get a minor break in scenery, even if that just means strolling around your neighbourhood to get some air!

Xanthophyllippa

@Decca Why yes; as it happens, I live right across the street from a lake. Yay!

dracula's ghost

DAN SAVAGE? BARELY MENTIONED EVEN IN THESE COMMENTS?????

Cary Tennis is not fit to clean his boots!!!!

OhMarie

@dracula's ghost I find it really endearing that Dan Savage loves advice columns just like I do. I mean, he bought Ann Landers's desk!! That is totally a thing I would do if I made a million dollars writing an advice column.

Blushingflwr

@dracula's ghost You know, I like Dan Savage, but sometimes I don't like the way he handles questions. I mean, yeah, I know if you're writing to Dan Savage you know what you're getting yourself into, but I feel like he doesn't always actually embrace the "Your Kink is Not My Kink but it is OK" ethos that I feel a sex columnist should.

Maryaed

I am pretty sure Emily Yoffe's submissions are at least 40% "I wonder if she will print this crazy thing I made up?" at this point. She appears to have no bullshit detector.

Her advice isn't that terrible IMO. But Hax is much better.

MoonFlavor

Thank you for posting this!I am currently reading "Wild" and I regularly read advice columns, Prudie and Cary included. I didn't even know Cheryl Strayed had an advice column. Oh happy day, I get to spend the next several hours down the advice column rabbit hole!

emeegee

@MoonFlavor pace yourself on the Dear Sugar-- some of those pieces will just wreck you... "The Black Arc of It" leaves a new permanent mark on me everytime I read it.

Spooky Behaviour

@emeegee Did you ever read her essay "Love of my Life"?

JemimaPuddleduck

@emeegee Every time. I even sent it to my boyfriend so he'd know how I felt after my dad died. It's the best explanation of that feeling I've ever read, the second best being Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, when the main character loses his dad. FEELINGS.

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