Dear Uptight Seattleite,I want to listen to Democracy Now! but I have a problem with Amy Goodman's voice. It's so dreary! I know whatever's she droning on about is probably important, but I just can't get through a whole show and soon find myself switching over to the "The Ladies Room" on MOViN 92.5. Should I feel guilty?Nancy
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Dear Nancy,You're torn between the songs that make you feel good and the show that makes you feel bad. Well, I may not listen to commercial stations myself, but I wouldn't want to deprive anyone else of the mental-health benefits of music, no matter shallow that music may sound to me. On the other hand, taking a daily shot of Amy Goodman's throat-and-nose-filling indignation has proven medicinal value. The only possible solution is to buy a second radio and listen to both stations at the same time. For a balance of inane uplift and bitter injustice, put an Usher soundtrack to that interview with ousted Honduran president José Manuel Zelaya.Dear Uptight Seattleite,If I hurry across the road when a car has stopped for me, I worry that my meekness compromises the greater cause of pedestrian right-of-way. Does it?Caroline Fickle-Fackle
Dear Caroline,Some people apologize before making a point by saying, "This is kind of inside-baseball, but..." as a warning that what they're about to say will be too in-depth and detailed to be interesting to most people. But why cast words like stumbling blocks in your own path? If you're fired up about how Paul Krugman just explained THIS VERY ISSUE, flaunt that passion! Lay out the facts and Nate Silver–issued figures so everyone may know what you know. People's thirst for your knowledge may be mightier than you think.It's the anti-apology aspect of my attitude toward the phrase "inside-baseball" about which I want to rap at ya a little, Caroline Fickle-Fackle. Because I think you might be one of those people who apologize too much. After all, you hurry across the street as if to apologize to drivers for your very existence. I'm not giving a definitive yes to the question you asked (you'll have to answer that one for yourself), but I do think you need an injection of pedestrian pride. Remember you have the same rights as polluters. Walk a little taller and a little slower. What we're dealing with at bottom, Caroline, is related to your feelings about your own body. If you'd prefer to leave your body out of it for now, that's OK, too. The last thing I want to do is lose you by getting too heavy, too fast. Let's keep the pace comfortable. Like the one you'll have when crossing the street.Dear Uptight Seattleite,When my girlfriend left, she took our spaniel, Starfish. It was the last time I saw him, because I didn't have visitation rights and then he died a few months later (I had to hear about it second-hand). I don't even know where he's buried, and feel like I've lost my grieving privileges on top of everything else.Doug on Keyboards
Dear Doug,Your grief is blocked right now by a big plug of anger in your chest. Not that you're not entitled to a little anger! What you need is a way to both express your feelings to your ex and begin a healthy grieving process. Send her a note that says:Dear Starfish,Good boy, Starfish. Good boy.Love,DougAnd ask her to read it over his grave. Whether or not the various meanings in this note actually reach woman and dog, I predict you'll feel a lot better as soon as you send it.Dear Uptight Seattleite,Any New Year's resolutions? Or do you think you're perfect already?JR
Dear JR,There are any number of legitimate ways of dividing time—including the Mayan calendar, the Jewish calendar, and the Chinese calendar—and several ways of NOT dividing it, such as certain breathing exercises that let you experience the Eternal Now. I assume you're referring to the arbitrary, Christocentric division of time that is upon us? Hey, at ease there, friend. I wasn't really accusing you of cultural bigotry. Just "messing" with you in a friendly manner, since you seem a little tense with that tone of yours.I actually have no trouble accepting, even celebrating, mainstream dates, so long as this celebrating is done in a simple, mindful fashion. But to answer your question: No, I don't have any particular goals associated with the turning of my Nikki McClure calendar from December 2009 ("Know") to January 2010 ("Invite"). I'm more into a time-as-a-circle type of vibe at the moment.Questions? Write firstname.lastname@example.org.