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Carolyn Hax Live: Hot potato baby and irresponsible parents?; Vegan dinner etiquette; Phone records = cheating spouse?; Single, adoptive moms; 'Nice' co-workers, and more
Friday, January 21, 2011; 12:00 PM
Carolyn was online Friday, January 21, taking your questions and comments about her current advice column and any other questions you might have about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.
E-mail Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Carolyn Hax: Hi everybody. I was trying to get Nick's book tour schedule up on my FB page before I started, but didn't make it in time. I'll try to have it up shortly after the chat ends today: www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax
Remember, you don't need to sign in to FB to see it.
Washington, D.C.: Do you think there's anything wrong with a single woman who wants to adopt a child/children? I've always wanted kids and not necessarily a husband. It would be nice to have a partner, but I don't want to settle just for having kids. I'm nearing 40 and I'm doing pretty well in my career and have some savings. I just want an unbiased, outside opinion. Thanks!
Carolyn Hax: There's nothing wrong with it if you have the temperament, support resources and maturity to be a good parent, and if you go into the process (of adoption and of childrearing) with the understanding that just so much if it is foreseeable and/or under your control. The rest you have to deal with on the fly without losing your mind.
There's a lot wrong with it if you expect things to go as you envision them and if you need things to go as you expect (whether that need is emotional, financial, logistical, etc). But I would say that to any prospective parent; that's not just about being a single parent.
The stakes are, obviously, higher when you're single, because you don't have a co-parent to fill in or compensate for you. But that in itself is not a deal-breaker, since there are obviously plenty of paired-off parents who do an awful job and single parents who do great.
The last thing to consider that's specific to your situation is that your marital status and age do matter when it comes to adoption. You won't have as many options as younger married couples do. It's just the way it is; different countries/types of placements have different rules, and "fairness" is not a consideration.
Upper Marlboro: Hi Carolyn,
What do you do about a coworker whose niceness you know is fake? I work at a small doctor's office with a permanent staff of five. One of my coworkers, "Mary," started giving off a weird vibe as soon as I got here, but she has always been cordial to the point of eeriness. Of course, I got the gossip from another coworker, who just told me Mary really dislikes me and thinks I don't do good work (which isn't true). Now that I know this, Mary's niceness feels dishonest and confrontational. Should I say something to her?
Carolyn Hax: What do you hope to accomplish? That's the first thing you need to know for sure before you choose to speak up.
Oops: My husband and I had his visiting cousin & family over for dinner. i spent literally two entire days preparing - first a very expensive grocery store run, then several hours of peeling shrimp and vegetables, preparing side dishes and cooking everything.
When the relatives got here, they immediately announced that they are strict vegans and could not eat anything I had prepared. (For the record, my husband had mentioned earlier that he thought they didn't eat red meat, which is why I settled on a seafood dish.) They wound up staying for only a few minutes, then going back to eat at their hotel restaurant.
They sent a thank-you note with a mild apology for not staying, but I'm completely crestfallen. Did I somehow do the wrong thing, or did they?
Carolyn Hax: They should have warned you a few days before they arrived.
I admit to not knowing what the etiquette books say, but common sense says that if you have any specific needs that aren't optional,* then you need to warn your hosts precisely to avoid what happened to you.
You didn't ask where you go with this from here, but I'm going to add on the unsolicited advice to let go of any incipient grudges you might feel coming on. For one, they sent a note. That's something.
Second, some people feel very uncomfortable calling ahead as I suggested they should have; it can feel a lot like placing your order at a restaurant. Just anecdotally, I've noticed over the years that some people feel it's right to call ahead, and others feel it's right to show up and hope for the best--with the intent of eating side dishes, salad, bread, whatever else.
And so it may be that the cousin & family were trying to be polite and were faced with shellfish, milk products and/or butter in everything--i.e., they tried the let's-be-low-maintenance gamble and lost.
I'm not endorsing it (see above), but instead presenting it as a possibility that I hope will take the issue of who did something "wrong" off the table and replace it with the idea of its being an accident between two parties trying to do the right thing.
*"I don't eat meat"/"I'm allergic to shellfish" = not optional
"I don't like fish"/Coke vs. Pepsi = optional
Single mommyhood: If age and marital status could be an obstacle for a single woman approaching 40, what other options are there?
Carolyn Hax: There are adoption possibilities--just fewer of them than are available to, say, a hetero couple in their late 20s. Country X may insist that the adoptive parents be under age Y, hetero and married. And they can do that. Parents who don't fit certain criteria often need to consider children who are harder to place--older ones, for example. It's actually quite upsetting, if you think about it too hard.
Crying shower woman: Is there an update on why she went to pieces at her shower?
Carolyn Hax: Yes--thank you for reminding me. I'll go get it ...
Carolyn Hax: Found it, and it's on its way ...
Carolyn Hax: "NH: I honestly don't know if I can tell you why I melted down that way. The immediate trigger seemed to be a comment a guest made about how baby shower is to baby what wedding is to marriage, a big buildup for the inevitable letdown of reality. I think this is a very cynical viewpoint, but I also know I don't feel very mom-like at this point, so it was like, if the shower was supposed to represent the apex of my excitement, I just feel depressed about the whole thing.
"I don't know if that makes any sense. I also felt that I just couldn't work up the energy or enthusiasm to talk and laugh as much as my friends were doing, so the whole thing seemed a little like a farce.
"As for how much I want them to know, I just know that I don't want to be judged for being some sort of evil baby- hating monster. I am generally pretty private about my feelings, which is why I'm so humiliated now."
Carolyn here. My thoughts on this are, in no particular order:
1. don't get too worked up about feeling un-festive and unimpressed with your friend's comment. I think showers are to be endured more than enjoyed, at least as social events. They're a great way for the people who care about a new couple/new parent to say, "Yay, we're here for you during this big transition." If transitions like marriage and childbearing were all cupcakes and confetti, then the community wouldn't have to rally to support you. It's exciting and also heavy, and a sane wedding/shower crowd will get that implicitly, and behave accordingly.
2. It would be great if you could just wave off the cynics who think the party is the best part, but that's asking a lot of a guest of honor, who in many cases is either hormonal or adrenaline-addled or just overwhelmed for one reason or another.
3. So, I'll spell it out even more clearly here: The launch parties are -not- the best part of either a marriage or raising kids. The time with your spouse/kids over the fullness of life is the best part. I;m sorry no one was at your side at the time to point out how idiotic your friend's comment was.
4. If your friends are still checking on you to see if you're okay, just thank them and say it was just hormones/an emotional day for you. They don't need an explanation.
5. You may, however, want to confide in a select friend or two whom you trust not to get all judgmental on you. The ability to voice uncomfortable thoughts is something that can take an astonishing amount of pressure off.
Good luck, and congrats.
Single motherhood: I've written before, when posts have mentioned single motherhood. There are wonderful resources for women considering becoming single moms. I can recommend two books, with support organizations behind them. Single Mothers by Choice, written by Jane Mattes. There is a website, and an active online community offering support for every stage of the process, from thinking, to cenception/adoption, to infertility, to parenting at different stages, including special needs, and those trying for 2nd or even 3rd children. As an SMC (single mother by choice) I can honestly say that the women I've met online are true friends, I've met some in person, and a number of us have started talking about vacationing together. And there are a number of women who either conceived or adopted after 40. The other book/organization is Choice Moms, by Mikki Morisette. I haven't read her book or joined their online community, but have heard wonderful things about that support system as well.
Single motherhood by choice is difficult. PARENTING is difficult. It is also easier, in some ways, than parenting as a couple. And for those who choose to follow this path, the joy is immeasurable.
SMC to a wonderful, smiley, 21 month old
Carolyn Hax: Thanks, I appreciate the resources.
OOH, which reminds me: We're working on a new community (an extension of Facebook) that would allow for more flexibility in the way people use it. For example, there's a resource page (which a lot of you have been asking for for years) that I update when I mention something, and that readers can also update when they have something to offer like this. It also allows you guys to post questions for each other, as opposed to Philes, where I post the questions.
It's at http:/
To the woman who wishes to adopt: I work for the child welfare agency in Toledo, OH, and I can tell you that our public children services agency welcomes single people to become adoptive parents. The advice you offered her about the particulars of being a single parent is good advice. But there are thousands of children in foster care awaiting adoption, and if she has realistic expectations and a willingness to make a commitment, then she can be a very successful parent. I'd urge her to visit www.adoptuskids.com to learn more about adopting a child from foster care.
Carolyn Hax: Here it is, thanks.
"a big buildup for the inevitable letdown of reality": You know, I read that as the statement of a very sad woman. I know it was inappropriate for her to say that at a shower, but maybe someone should ask her if she's okay.
Carolyn Hax: Another good point.
Mendon, Vt: Oops, Just curious.. did they actually speak to your husband who misinterpreted vegan as no red meat, or did they say nothing at all? Since vegan is so limiting (to those who have never cooked that way) I've never met a vegan who hasn't been very forthright about their diet.
Carolyn Hax: You know, that is a possibility--that they told the husband and he didn't pass along the message correctly. Thanks.
Dragville?: My husband and I are expecting our second child shortly, and of course I saw an old Slate discussion titled "Marriage is a Drag" and, well, some of it renovated. We're definitely not in nearly as bad of a rut as described in the article, but it looks like we're creating conditions for it - two demanding careers, two children, not all that much $ to pay someone else to do housework. I know people do this all the time, but have we doomed our marriage? I hope not!!! What can we do to improve our chances?
Carolyn Hax: No, don't renovate! Heh.
Full disclosure, I haven't read the Slate discussion, so I'm hoping your question has all the info I need: marriage + kids + work + housework = love-killing drudgery.
I think you are dooming your marriage if you're trying to have the kids and careers and the nice/clean house without setting aside any energy for or making a priority of your marriage and family life.
I think it's a really common mistake. It's so easy to focus on the individual items that make up your life: We need to do X and Y for the kids, we need X amount of money to do this, X and Y are necessary for my job and I need the salary this job pays me, etc. It's actually easier that way because the decisions are incremental, and they're also clear in a micro kind of way. Which decision would you rather make" "Do I stay late tonight to get everything done?" or "Is a job where I need to stay late to finish the best path for me and my family right now, and, if not, what would I do instead?"
It's not a fair fight. The immediate decision always gets the attention. And the way life is in our culture in our time, there are more immediate decisions facing us than ever before--check e-mail or check bank account or pick kids up now or work another 15 min, etc.
If you want to improve your chances of creating a happy and functional home, then you're probably going to need to force yourself to think bigger when you make your decisions. Are these two jobs the best choice for us, are we in the right town if these jobs are the only way we can afford it, are kids better for for having highly enriched lives or for having slower, more free-form schedules?
Carolyn Hax: (I didn't proof that, so I hope I didn't type "For farters" or anything.)
Anyway. I also think there's a mindset that grows from the have-everything model of family--two careers plus desired number of kids plus cool stuff plus activities to satisfy all--that regards cutting back as a sacrifice. If one parent back-burners a career, for example, or if they choose to move somewhere with a lower cost of living, or just downsize their possessions, it's so often framed as giving something up or doing without. Instead, it's actually doing with: It's choosing to have a family-based life, and all that entails.
If you make that kind of choice with your mate, with a fulfilling family life as the goal for (at least this phase of) your marriage, and if you're looking out for each other instead of falling out of balance in who's contributing what, then your having kids and the attendant chaos can actually be good for your marriage.
Just one way to look at it.
Big buildup to reality: Maybe it's just me, but I kind of agree. Or do other people actually enjoy sleepless nights, diaper duty, and a screaming infant?
Carolyn Hax: Yeh, but that's just one phase of reality. The phases that follow aren't all a picnic, either, but the rewards get bigger and better with time, generally.
I feel funny arguing this way even with the "generallly" qualifier. Sometimes things do go wrong. The payoff isn't any more a guarantee than "You'll meet someone when you least expect it" is. I guess I'm just trying to say that the whole comparison is false and hollow. Boil down the statement and you have: "These two hours sure beat the next 20-30 years." Huh?
Akron, OH: Hi, Carolyn.
What do you say about two grown sisters (ages 45 and 41, with children, husbands, careers and lives of their own) who excoriate (I looked it up -- yeah, that's the right word) their 68-year-old mother for scheduling her long-awaited double-knee replacement for Dec. 17, because it meant she would be in the hospital or rehab over Christmas (thus putting a huge damper on the sisters' holiday) and then who deny any culpability when Mom reschedules for Feb. 17, the next available date, which in reality is about three months later than what their mother preferred, because of the unending pain? ("You can't blame me. That decision's all on her." -- direct quote from one sister in response to an aunt's comment that the surgery date was changed to accommodate the two daughters).
Mom's been a good sport about the date change and admits it was her choice to delay the surgery, but I saw how much emotional pain she was in when my sisters unloaded on her, and I can see how much physical pain she's in now.
I've already told Mom that I'll be available to help with whatever she needs and wants during her recovery. But our dad is going to be out of state for the early part of her at-home rehab, and I know I'm going to have to have some contact with my sisters about Mom's care while he's gone.
Any advice on how to deal with them without blowing up? (my response to Mom's announcement of the original surgery date was "Well, if that's what's best, that's what's best.")
Carolyn Hax: I could suggest all kinds of things, but what's the chance any of it will make a difference? It sounds as if your sisters are self-absorbed, and that's an affliction that by definition is resistant to outside treatment.
So, whatever approach you take can't be about getting something from them. It can only be about you and your mom, and getting what each of you needs. That means it's okay to say, when you talk to one sister or another about some item of business, "I'm still upset about the way you lit into mom about her surgery date, so I'm going to keep this conversation just to business about her recovery." And it's okay to deal with them civilly and calmly just for the purpose of keeping them as involved as your mom needs/wants them to be.
A personal question...: Just curious, are you able to be as rational in your everyday life as your on-the-fly advice suggests? Or are you as messy and ackward in person as the rest of us?
Carolyn Hax: You'd have to ask my friends, since the way we regard ourselves and the way we really are don't always correlate 1 to 1.
But I do try to build awkwardness and mess into my advice. For example, if I suggest something that I think should be said in a certain situation, I allow for the possibility that someone won't think to say it just at the right moment, and instead will have to backtrack, raise the issue again, apologize for saying X, and then say the necessary Y. That is very much a reflection of who I am in my everyday life. Ten minutes after a conversation is when I start thinking of everything I wish I had (or hadn't) said, and that dammit-why-didn't-I ... period can last days. Longer, even, if it's a moment of major consequence. Call it rational and awkward.
For Akron: It sounds like you could stand to take a step back. Your mom is an adult who can decide for herself what medical care she needs. You and your sisters don't need to be so intimately involved.
Carolyn Hax: Fair point, but I would still be disgusted with the sisters in this case, even knowing it was the mom's decision to defer to their preference (a decision that helps explain their self-absorption, methinks). Some bad behavior just stays with you.
Frozen Midwest: On reality vs. buildup in marriage and parenting: I think this ties in to the other answer you gave, about immediate response vs. big-picture thinking. Lots of aspects of marriage maintenance and childrearing are repetitive, not very exciting, and sometimes downright exhausting or gross. That's when you need to be focused on the bigger picture: that this part won't last forever, and that this is part of your ongoing investment into a meaningful life with another person, whether partner or child.
Carolyn Hax: I like it, thanks.
Hot potato : My wife and I went on a 2-week pleasure trip to Europe, leaving our 21-month-old son in the care of her mom.
Sometime around the 1-week mark, Mom gets burnt out and hands the kid off to her daughter, my wife's sister, without mentioning to us that she's doing this.
Then, Sis gets called away on a business trip and in desperation leaves the kid with her ex-girlfriend--that's right, a woman my wife and I barely know, who is no longer connected to our family in any meaningful way.
When my wife and I returned from our trip, we learned for the first time that our son had spent several days in the home of the stranger. I am livid at both Mom and Sis, who (as I see it) really dropped the ball on their commitment. My wife is less mad and wants me to drop it. In my shoes, would you be able to trust these people after this?
Carolyn Hax: In the kids shoes, would I trust my parents after this?
You left a too young kid for too long for too nonessential a reason. Parents do need to get away, but not that ambitiously. So, yes, your mom made a serious error in not calling you right away when she started to feel overwhelmed. Your sister made a serious error in not calling you when your mom handed your son over and when she passed him along again. Who knows what your sister's ex was thinking--"poor kid," probably, but how hard would it have been for her to say to your sister, "You need to call the parents, NOW"?
If you and your wife had deployed or been in the hospital or something else, then I'd have a completely different answer. But you took two weeks off from being parents, and you got what you got, and I think it's time to listen to your wife and drop it. If you were planning to give your mom two weeks in Europe to thank her for caring for your boy, then it is okay for you to withdraw that offer.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Is it ok to break up with an old friend over ethics? My college roommate is one of those people you read about who made millions off the recession as an investment banker - she retired at 35. I'm a college professor, and happy with my life (I'm not that materialistic), but she has no remorse or feeling for the people who are losing their homes or jobs. It would be one thing if she was now volunteering or doing something worthwhile, but her main occupation is travel and complaining about her portfolio.
Carolyn Hax: The ethical argument is tricky. Do you have "remorse" for using the huge prosperity advantage you get just for living in America? Maybe you're not getting rich off someone's losses as you say your friend did, but you do benefit from the artificial barriers that keep others out of your country and mired in the poverty of theirs.
I don't see why the friendship issue has to rise to level of ethics anyway. If you see her as whiny and self-indulgent, or cold, or just boring, for that matter, then you're free to exercise your option not to be friends with her any more.
If it's envy of her money/freedom and resentment that she wastes this money/freedom when you feel passionate about the good things you'd do with it, then that gets a little more complicated. Then you need to remind yourself of the reasons you stayed friends once you were no longer roommates.
If those reasons seem to have evaporated, then you're back just to not liking her enough to be her friend any more.
Washington, DC: Regarding the parents who went to Europe - I think the LW has a fair point about finding the MIL and SIL untrustworthy. The MIL made a commitment and did not honor it.
Carolyn Hax: I did too. I said they made a ... "serious error."
I knew I'd be criticized for this answer, because I've disagreed vehemently before with someone over a similar issue.
When you ask an above-and-beyond favor of someone in a situation when you have other options, I believe you sacrifice your right to take complete umbrage if that favor is executed poorly.
That it was executed poorly (here and in that old argument I had) is not open for debate here--all the caregivers really screwed up.
I just don't think the person who asked the favor has the right to go on a you-done-me-wrong tear. I believe that's the hazard of asking favors -when you have other options-; you sacrifice your right to be angry about how well (or poorly) the favor was done.
My old argument was about something very different, but I think it's actually useful because it takes the emotional of child-care out of it. It was about getting repair work done by a buddy who had a shop, instead of paying someone full price for a straight business transaction. When the work wasn't done correctly, my argument was that it wasn't okay to go back to the buddy to complain about the poor workmanship. That option went out the window when you chose to save a few bucks by asking a friend.
Another friend involved in the transaction completely disagreed with me, and said the responsibility for the work is entirely on the other person upon agreeing to do the favor.
Back to the kid. Why didn't the parents call?
"not connected to our family in any meaningful way": Looks like she is, if she was willing to do that big a favor for your family. Time to graciously thank this woman, send her a LARGE bouquet of flowers, and humbly ask if she will teach you to be as thoughtful of others as she is, starting with being as thoughtful of YOUR OWN CHILD as she was.
Carolyn Hax: Ah, there's that, too. Thanks.
Too young to leave?!: Carolyn,
We're about to go on a vacation for 1 week, and leave our 20 month old son in my mom's care. Do you really think that's too young to leave? Why?
Carolyn Hax: "Parents do need to get away, but not that ambitiously."
Re: 2-week trip: Carolyn Hax: "In the kids shoes, would I trust my parents after this? You left a too young kid for too long for too nonessential a reason."
Carolyn Hax: Completely. And had he given his own actions even a passing glance, it would have been a completely different answer.
Withheld: I think I may have just discovered this week that my husband is having an affair. In reviewing our cell phone records, I noticed frequent calls and text messages to one particular phone number. Out of curiosity, I called the number on Sunday and the person who answered hung up without saying anything. I subsequently did a reverse number search and realized she is someone I know with whom my husband serves in the Army Reserves. I have since poured over months of cell phone records and realized their frequent daily communication has been ongoing at least since August 2009, when our son was born. I have not said anything to my husband yet, as he currently is out of town, and I would prefer to confront him about this face to face. How would you recommend I approach him with the evidence I've found? By the way, I'm also 8 months pregnant with our second son due next month.
Carolyn Hax: When he gets home, as calmly as you can, with the cell bill in your hand. "I noticed one number appeared a lot, so I called it. Is there something you'd like to tell me?"
I'm sorry. I hope there's some great, innocent explanation for it, hang-up and all.
Baltimore, MD: Carolyn, do you have any tips or recommended reading for overcoming perfectionism? I know some people see it as a positive attribute, but it's a major hindrance to me. I don't remember when it started, sometime as a child, but I've always had an overwhelming personal requirement to be seen as perfect or not seen at all. The latter is what typically happens... If I do slip up in front of others, it can weigh me down for days. I'd really like to shake this and loosen up, but nothing I've tried myself has helped.
Carolyn Hax: Have you tried counseling? Talking about it could help force you out of the habit of presenting yourself as perfect. It'll be obvious from your presence in the office that all isn't flowers and smileys, and so the burden of breaking that news will be off. Think of the office as a safe place to be wrong, to be told things you haven't already thought of yourself, or to "loosen up" without worrying about what it's going to do to your relationship(s).
Nashville TN: Are you saying a one week vacation away from a small child is too much?
Carolyn Hax: No, that's not what I was saying. I said two weeks was too long for this age child for that type of trip. I really was answering specifically for the facts of that question, and I don't think anything extrapolated from that and applied to a different situation can be said to accurately represent my views.
I'm answering this because there are a lot of these in my queue--how about X years old, Y weeks, whatever--and all I can say is that the answer changes when you change the facts.
Too young to leave?: Sidestepping the issue of how long is OK to be away or how far to go...when planning to be away from children, the parents should always 1) plan for back-up in case something happens to the assigned substitute care giver. (Friends of mine left their son with his mother, who was in a car crash. This can happen to anyone.) 2) expect to call DAILY to check on on both child and the caregiver, and 3) purchase trip insurance in advance so that, in an emergency, you can get home fast.
Also, the first-line substitute could probably use respite if they are responsible for more than a couple of days. Build that into the plan...arrange a sitter so they get few hours off. This will help prevent them from getting burned out while you are traveling.
Carolyn Hax: I like all of these, thanks--very useful. The "also" is just as important as the others, though, and not as a "could probably." For one, parents can't expect a caregiver to put in more time than they do themselves, and it's hard to imagine parents in a situation when they're "on" for X days straight. Even if it's one parent handing the child to the other parent, there are little breaks here and there. A solo caregiver needs every one of those breaks a parent gets, and then some, because it's not their child(ren) they're caring for.
Even when parents go away for as few as two nights, it's good -for the kids- for you to arrange a sitter for the sitter, if it's someone doing solo duty.
re: Withheld: Try not to worry until you know the facts. They are both in the reserves - if they've done any time over there, your husband may just need someone to talk to about it all and may have asked the other person not to tell you b/c he wants to keep up a good front. Not the best thing, but also not the worst.
Carolyn Hax: Completely different take here:
When he gets home: I would tell my friend to do some preperation first before he gets home. Talk to a lawyer, start a separate bank account. It's clear how he's deceived you, you can't trust him. From this point foward, you have to protect your kids and yourself. Get your legalities and financials in order and then let him know you're onto him.
Carolyn Hax: ... so I thought I'd post both.
I know some people get truly blindsided by a spouse, but I tend to believe more often people know exactly who they're living with. If this woman is with a lock-up-the-money-before-he-steals-it kind of guy, she knows that, and your advice is apt. If she's with a guy who'll be devastated by the impact of his own behavior, then she knows that, too, and can probably pass on the SWAT preparations. It's a tough call, but unless she's inclined to delusion/denial, she's the best one to make it.
Shower meltdown: If it makes you feel better I lost my mind for a second and yelled at my friend's grandmother at her baby shower. The grandmother tsk-tsked the guest of honor for waiting so long to have kids even though she's only 30. Being of the same age and single, I guess it hit a raw nerve with me and I let loose. Not my finest moment, although my wonderful friend actually found it amusing. I actually think meltdowns at showers are a fairly regular occurrence! (I did apologize, by the way)
Carolyn Hax: Nothing says "baby shower off the rails" like yelling at someone else's grandma.
Just noticed it's 3:10, time for me to (farther) go off the rails. Thanks, seeya here next week, and have a great weekend. Oh, and I'll be posting the sked for Nick's book tour on www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax as soon as I can.
In her daily column in The Washington Post Style section, Carolyn Hax offers readers advice based on the experiences of someone who's been there. Hax is an ex-repatriated New Englander with a liberal arts degree and a lot of opinions and that's about it, really, when you get right down to it. Oh, and the shoes. A lot of shoes.
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