Dear Uptight Seattleite, I changed my name to "Warrior," but I can't get anyone to call me that. What should I do?Ex-Steven
Dear Ex-Steven, You've made a painful discovery: At the end of a journey of transformation, it can be difficult for people to acknowledge the new you. Kind of a lonely place, isn't it? But there are two pieces of good news coming your way. Piece one: I can relate. A few years ago I took a backpacking trip through the Andes, during which the moon over the Inca citadel Ollantaytambo delivered me to a new level of consciousness. But it didn't go so well when my co-workers asked how my trip was. In delivering my answer, did I stretch the usual bounds of small talk? Guilty as charged. Sometimes you just have to bust out and bring your reality to the table. About 10 minutes into my reality, however, I'd catch my listeners looking into the distance with a quiet hopelessness. Eventually they'd start spastically repeating the phrase, "Sounds like it was totally awesome!"—while slowly backing out of the room. Piece two: Despite this kind of resistance, there is indeed a way to introduce people to your new identity. In my case, I developed a series of Andes Aphorisms that I would scatter like seeds into my daily conversations. For example, "The moon is our swinging satellite sister," and "There's a reason people used to see the sky as a vaulted ceiling." I like to think that a few of these may have taken root in a passing mind or two. In your case, Ex-Steven, you can ease the transition to your new identity by gradually introducing it as a separate person. Casually mention that "Warrior is a warrior of peace," and "Warrior seeks balance." When your friends are a little more comfortable with the whole idea, tell them, "Warrior loves you." Let me know how it goes, but I'm pretty sure that will work. Hey Uptight, When I split a lunch bill with my co-workers, I always make sure my portion includes a good tip for the server. But when we tally up the money, it's always short. Then everyone, including me, has to chip in more, and yet there's still only a pathetic tip at best. How can I deal with these people?Tip Trippin' Timmy
Dear Timmy, By seeing a group paying a restaurant bill for what it is: a bubble of warm air, a wigwam which shelters us from the persnickety particulars about who owes what. A verdant and cozy hothouse in which a tip should sprout spontaneously forth, even if my individual contribution covers only the precise cost of Pho Combo #3 (not including tax). I can hardly be blamed for failing to notice that they also charged for the extra cilantro I requested. It doesn't seem right to charge for cilantro anyway. Dear Uptight Seattleite, What hair products do you recommend?Fellow Man
Dear Man, It depends whether you're looking for hold or texture. For hold, you might want a gel, but for texture you're better off with some kind of fiber-based pomade like BioSilk or Sumotech. I sort of drifted away from using hair products myself. I'm not sure why. Not that I think this makes me better than anyone who still uses them, just different. Dear Uptight Seattleite, Seattle is famously neighborhood-oriented. I can't decide if that's a good or bad thing. Sometimes, like when my neighbors monitor my recycling habits, it almost seems like that episode of The X-Files where the community-standards committee becomes a monster that comes out of the ground to murder people.Dr. Dog
Dear Dr. Dog, A friendly reminder before I get to your question: This column is an inclusive place, and that means I have to ask you to kindly refrain from making references to television programs. Believe it or not, there are people who don't watch TV, and may not be familiar with this X-Files of yours. Don't be offended, though. Consider this an opportunity to re-evaluate your own viewing habits; turning off your TV is not just for TV Turnoff Week! As for neighborhoods, I think you will find that if you change your point of view from bystander to participant, you'll find yourself welcomed with open arms and treated with respect. If you don't believe it, come to my workshop this Friday evening, "Community Building, Community Being: Taking your First Wil' Baby Steps." Have a question for the Uptight Seattleite? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.