Bowlsheets for glass bowls: Carolyn Hax Live (Friday, March 21)

Mar 21, 2014

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.

Carolyn was online 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 tellme@washpost.com.

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Hax Philes discussions

Hi everybody, happy Friday. 

My husband and I are expecting our first child. We are only recently pregnant and haven't told half of our family. Early on in our dissucsions of children we decided one was enough for us. Hubby had discussed having a vasectomy to insure that one would be enough and I was fine with that in discussion. We've planned a little stay-cation in the next couple of months and recently hubby brought up the idea of having said vasectomy before the vacation so he would have plenty of time to recover. Suddenly I got scared. What if we miscarry? It feels like millions of things could go wrong and he's considering an end to conception before we've even hit the 2nd trimester! I will admit his suggestion came fairly soon after I'd expereinced some spotting. Everything seems fine, but we won't know until we have a healthy baby in our arms - right? Or am I overthinking this?

Yikes, no, you're not overthinking. Have the child, experience life with the child, then schedule the vasectomy. 

Hi Carolyn, thanks for your reminder again, that if you don't love all stages of parenthood equally that doesn't make you a bad parent. My baby's about to turn 6, and infanthood was not great for me as a mom. I actually have loved (and hated) things about every stage since about 6 months on. Just yesterday we were driving in the car and she started asking me questions about other times in history and could we go to a history museum? I told her that her grandfather actually studied history in college and she should ask him about it, which sparked her to talk about all the things she wants to study when she gets older. Now maybe she will have a lifelong love of history, maybe she won't, but it really was a poignant glimpse into the future when she will be making her own decisions and hopefully fulfilling her passions in healthy ways. Kind of made me choke up a little bit.

Thanks for this, it's such a happy image. 

Part of kids' making their own decisions is that not all of them will be healthy, and some of these assertions of self will call your attention to the fact that you can love your kid to pieces and not -like- every single facet of them. The announcement of an interest, for example, might not be as delightful to retell as "Let's go to museums"; it might be a sport you find repugnant, politics you reject, a type of music that you equate to an aural cheese-grater. There's happiness there, too, truly, it just takes a commitment to flexibility and to loving the fact of independent thought, vs. the specific content of that thought. 

 

Related to this, I recommend my friend Hanna Rosin's latest for the Atlantic ("The Overprotected Kid" link). I'm already seeing it all over my social media feeds, but just in case it didn't find you.

Hi Carolyn, I wrote into you last week about my twin sister, "Bethany," requesting that I be her MOH at the exclusion of our other sister "Emily." As you suggested, I struck up a conversation with Bethany about the cruel ways we used to reject Emily in the past. I told her I appreciated the spirit of her invitation but that I would still feel just as special if she wanted to bill us both as MOHs. Her answer: "Don't worry about it. Emily will understand. And if she doesn't, it's my wedding anyway, so I'll take the heat." Somewhat less callously put than that, but you get the idea. So now, from a very technical standpoint I feel that I've done all that I can do. It is, in fact, Bethany's wedding, and not my place to insist that she change this aspect of it. I'm sure Emily and I will collaborate on some things anyway. Morally, though, am I in the clear? As I said before, I'm very conflicted on whether to address this upfront with Emily. (Unlike Bethany, I do think she will care.)

I can suggest a course of action or discussion with your sister, but I can't clear your conscience. I'm sorry. You have to do what you think is right. 

Toward that end, I will suggest that you make a point of keeping Bethany and Emily in your mind, privately, as equals in sisterhood, and approach all family-related choices and events (i.e. not just this wedding) with that as your starting point. Bethany might technically be right, but she's shutting a door to something--someone--whose value she might be drastically underestimating.

Hi. I really admire your insights, and would appreciate them here. My family is not an affluent or materialistic bunch. We dig our values - strong work ethics, living simply, and such. BUT. Over Christmas break, while trying to explain a coworker who is a bullying street-fighter sort, I let slip: "I mean, we all earn six figures, there is no need to be acting like that in the workplace!" And I wish I hadn't. Since then, my Mom has made many backhanded comments about how I live: how many clothes I have, how my work dominates my life, how I am still single, and on and on. And now this: I found out a conversation she was having with my brother about a sweet birthday gift they were planning to give me turned into a HUGE OUTTA CONTROL fight because my Mom now doesn't want to give it anymore because I happen to earn more than either of them. I have some idea what's going on -- she feels unneeded and no longer able to control me, or she might be disappointed in my current status (ummm.. single at 33). Any advice? I would like to put this genie back in the bottle without it becoming a clash of values. Oddly, I find I'm tempted to just diminish my professional accomplishments to her so this issue will go away.

It won't "go away" because it was always there. The slip about your income merely blew off its cover. 

"[S]he feels unneeded and no longer able to control me"--um. This? Right?

Think about countries where a tyrant is overthrown: After the requisite dancing in the streets, what comes next? All these old factional fires reignite. It can be similar in a family where there's a firm, clear expectation of how everyone is supposed to behave. When you all stick to that, it all appears harmonious, but when one of you deviates from the path: factions get exposed, tensions mount, whhhoof. Fire.

I suppose you can calm things down by putting on a fake front of being back on the path ("Mom! Great news! I got a demotion and a pay cut!" ... anyone remember Daniel Stern's character in "Breaking Away"?).

But it makes a whole lot more sense to me to look forward. Your mother's expectations and biases have been exposed, so now you have to work with them by adjusting your boundaries accordingly. There need to be some topics you don't satisfy her on, for example. ("Mom, I'm not going to discuss my marital status with you": then, don't). A few limits with sibs would help, too--like, "Don't feel you need to defend me to Mom," or, "If you fight with Mom about me, feel free not to fill me in on the details." 

Moving yourself to arm's length won't be easy, but it also doesn't have to be permanent; some people do stop pushing buttons when they figure out it isn't having the desired effect.

Good luck.

I was recently in a position where I had to make professional small talk with a person who told me that they is a stay at home parent. I have complete respect for that choice, but I found that I didnt know what small talky questions to ask, as I would have if they had said their employment. This person also told me their former career, but it seemed rude to jump past their current status to ask about that. What would you suggest?

Carolyn pitched this question over to the Philes and it led to some great options and thoughts. Definitely go check it out.

Hi Carolyn, I have always managed my mood disorder and just regular bad days through exercise - biking, weightlifting, walking the dog, riding horses, etc. I'm not skinny, but I'm healthy. Or, I used to be. I currently have back-to-back injuries forcing me to rest longterm ( I can barely even walk). We have had the worst winter in recent memory (one of my mood disorders is SAD), my job has recently been stressful and upsetting, and I currently CAN'T EXERCISE. This means I have basically no idea how to deal with my issues and let off steam. I've been resorting instead to treating myself to a beer or two after work, which I'm not concerned about in an alcohol-consumption sense but isn't ideal in a caloric-intake sense. So exercise is out for the forseeable, alcohol isn't a sustainable option (and by definition neither is indulging in desserts, plus I am suspectible to sugar-related mood drops), I hate baths, I don't like phone conversations and talking out my issues with my husband doesn't help........what else is there? I don't need anything to appreciate my life in the larger sense - I know my life is great - but in the short term, I need something to serve the same purpose as exercise in helping me get through bad days, and just in general helping me deal with this forced rest. I did try to brainstorm a list with my therapist but it was pretty much a no-go. I have since stopped seeing her as she wasn't very helpful to me (bad fit). Any ideas?

I'm going to send you over to Hax-Philes so others can weigh in with their ideas. (Okay, Jess?)

I'm also going to do something I hate and not take your "exercise is out" at face value. There are desk exercises for office workers, yoga poses for paraplegics, arm exercises for people with overuse injuries from typing, leg exercises for people with bad knees, water exercises for people with impact injuries ... and etc. If you haven't exhausted all possibilities for working out the parts of you unaffected by injury, then that's my first suggestion. 

My second is to start looking for a new therapist.

My third is to find a long-term project that you've been putting off for a lack of time or energy, and that would have some element of pleasure to it. Just to give you an example of what I have in mind, mine would be sorting, organizing and storing over a decade's worth of photos. A lot of happy memories -and- a weight off my shoulders, and a hedge as you heal against boredom and the snacking and drinking that come with it. 

(As I said, I'll kick this to files, so please submit your comments there and not here, thanks.)

 

Okay! Here's the Philes post, open for your suggestions.

Any suggestions for getting through the times (undoubtedly temporary, but I've now felt this way more than once) when I feel like I love and like one kid SO much more than the other? They're the same gender and close in age, it's just their personalities that are vastly different, and I really feel like I'm fighting a futile fight when I try to keep things even and equal.

Try to do something one-on-one with the less compatible one, specifically something that brings out that child's best. You won't have the opportunity forever to control so many variables, and so use it while you can to promote the bond and create a foundation for warm feelings, as well as important memories. 

Our wedding invites went out this week, and I'm getting hassled about not having enough(!) items on my registry. I know this isn't bridal season, but I would love to get some feedback from other Haxphiles on what I should add... we're early 30s, two households, we were not expecting people to expect us to expect gifts! Alternatively, any ways to get the message out that this wedding is a celebration of love, not gifts? Signed - bride working from home and staring at mound of unanswered emails from well-intentioned family members.

Register for a charity. Please?

The I Do Foundation, JustGive.org ... I haven't vetted these but they popped up quickly ... and if anyone has other/better sites for charitable wedding registries, lemme know. 

(Disclaimer, the JustGive.org founder is a familiar name from college.) 

I am experiencing what I'm sure is a common phenomenon: very close friends are divorcing after 25 year marriage. Question: does anyone ever get to keep both parties in the divorcing couple as friends? It seems there is always one who becomes the predominant friend, with the other person fading away. I have many single, divorced friends but was always closer to one than the other. In this newest case, spouse and I were very close to both for a very long time. And as much as people say "it is amicable", there are always hurt feelings for socializing more with one than the other. I just don't know anyone who has successfully stayed close with both parties for more than, say, a couple of years. Thoughts?

My only thought is that you don't have a whole lot of better options than just going with it. You put the effort into both friendships, of course, but that's where your control over the situation ends; the friends themselves and the circumstances will have as much say as you do in the directions those friendships take from there.

As for your specific question, "does anyone ever get to keep both parties ... as friends?," I assume the answer is yes, because there has to be at least one case on earth, but even if no one ever succeeded, you could still be the first. Think less about the general possibilities and just focus on caring about the people you care about.

N.B.: Hurt feelings? That's scorekeeping, and it's no more appropriate for the ex-couple to do than it was when the marriage was intact.   

 

My BF put a lot of emphasis on his birthday and he likes to celebrate his birthday for the entire weekend. On his last birthday, I booked a weekend away, and planned a couple of outings which he enjoyed and posted on Facebook to show all his friends what a wonderful time he was having. My birthday is in less than 2 weeks. Yesterday, I asked him if he was planning anything, and he said, "No, not really." When I reminded him about what I nice birthday weekend I given him, he said, "Well, what do you want to do?" I'm a little irritated that he's putting so little effort into my birthday -- he didn't used to be this way. I'm telling myself to just tell him what I want, and move on, but I have to confess I have hurt feelings about this. Advice?

"[H]e didn't used to be this way."

Okay. What else is going on? The context here is everything, because it could just be that he got the memo a few months before you did that the courtship mode has given way to old-sneaker mode, and fussing less over his next birthday would set the cosmos back into balance. Or, it could be that  your birthday is just the messenger, alerting you to the fact that your BF has essentially checked out of the relationship. Or, it could be that your boyfriend is a taker who temporarily stepped out of that mode to reel you in, and, having succeeded, is showing his true self: "I expect you to produce a parade and confetti for my birthday, and for your birthday you'll get nothing and like it." Or, ____________________; or _______________; or, ___________.

This answer needs to take in the whole picture for it to be the right answer. 

I only ever saw it be a real problem when one half of the (former) couple demonstrated over the top, awful, unethical, dishonest, manipulative, selfish, unequivocal behavior. As in...you couldn't argue with the reason for the split. (no abuse though) And why people wanted to stay friends with him after knowing that was beyond me.

useful, thanks.

Two books: Siblings Without Rivalries (from the writers of Talk So Your Kids Will Listen...." Peaceful Parent, Happy Child Finished the first one, 2/3 the second one. Both advocate one-on-one time with each of your children. It doesn't have to be hours. It has to be regular, count-on-able, special & child-directed (PPHC says alternate days, you decide, then the kid decides what to do. ) If each kid feels your love & acceptance, then she won't be so pre-occupied with what the sibling gets.

Haven't read the books but will put them on the stack. Thanks.

My and my husband's family would NOT have been down with charitable donations. They wanted to GIVE. US. STUFF. We already had some stuff at home, so rather than just deal with whatever craziness they elected to give us (four toasters!), we went out and registered for silly things like a candle shaped like a monkey, board games, a power drill, funny salt and pepper shakers, etc. We got nearly all of it. They absolutely loved being able to give us material goods and we got a real kick out of seeing who picked what and how it matched their personality. (Our best man got us the monkey candle because OF COURSE HE DID)

What a cool idea. It can even take on a charitable, or just yay-world, spin if you picked things from small/local businesses, or artisans, or cooperatives in developing countries, or companies committed to using recycled  materials, etc. 

My S & DIL were adamant about not wanting folks to spend $$ on gifts, as many of their friends were just getting launched in jobs, still looking for same, or were grad students.. Their registry alternatives were: 1) a list of four-five charities across a spectrum of causes that were important to them, but would have some broad appeal; 2) a book reflecting the *giver's* interests, preferably from a used book store. Worked out pretty well.

Can't lose with books, thanks. They're especially good as a shower theme.

I will never, ever, forget the time my mother told me (a government lawyer, so clearly rolling in money) that she would never understand why I got paid so much because she (a nurse) and my sister (a teacher) helped more people and made more of a difference in one day than I would in a lifetime. A perfect "wow" moment, for sure, but also really helpful in showing that she was likely threatened by my schooling, my earning potential, the fact that I had gone to law school "just like my father" (who she had been divorced from at the time for over 25 years), etc. Now when she makes judgy comments about this area of things, I try to remember that is where she's coming from. The fact that she has no interest in what I do and how it may actually help people is painful, but irrelevant in where her comment was coming from. Now I refuse to tell her my pay grade, my rent payments, etc.

Yes, makes sense, thanks--and another of the same ilk:

She feels like you have 'surpassed' her, and that you may not "appreciate" or respect her "down to earth image" anymore. Been there. I have to go overboard to downplay my in-laws and their accomplishments, because my mom gets SO insecure over it. This can apply to your position too (married nor not). She is probably feeling quite inadequate right now. You do not have to do anything to placate this - it is HER issue. However, being sensitive to it, and nipping any of her biting remarks in the bud is something you can do.

You can also say, at an appropiate time, "Thanks for teaching me [valuable lesson you learned from her]. I know sometimes you question the path I'm on, but I'm happy there, and I'm grateful to you for the part you played in that." 

I.e., plant the idea that she shares in your accomplishment, vs. suffers by comparison to it.

If these backhanded comments from your mom are new, what about straight up asking her what's up? Why the comments?

Oh, yeah. That. Thanks. 

trust me, you do not have to keep things even and equal, just INDIVIDUAL. My folks went overboard to split things right down the middle, even though we are two different people with different situations. Now they can "claim" that they treated us equally. All I feel, though, is a feeling of never being seen by them as JUST ME.

Valuable if unfortunate PSA. Thanks.

My girlfriend is considering doing nude modelling in an art school. I understand that it is only for art but I am still very hesitant. She doesn't want to discuss it and even though it's not happening, she said she will not tell me when she starts it. I've told her it's bothering me and she understands but she may still go ahead with it. Am I overreacting ? I am really stressing about this. We are talking about getting engaged soon (and she's promised she wouldn't do it after that) but it is really stressing me out

I'm going with (a) Overreacting.

A couple of things that won't let me end my answer there:

-This is legitimate work, and, cheez, this is art school; it's not about sex or peeping or whatever else makes you uncomfortable about it, it's about honing the student's abilities.

-Even if she stops modeling after you get engaged--or even if she agrees not to do it--there's still the fact that your girlfriend is comfortable enough with nudity to see it as a legitimate revenue stream. You, I get the impression, see nudity as a private thing, and possibly see access to her nudity as something that's exclusively yours.

Even if I've projected a bit too far there, the difference in your views/attitudes/values and hers is substantial, and when there's such a substantial difference, it deserves your attention--now, before you commit to each other. 

-You are "really stressing." As in, this is not just a philosophical difference, this is acutely emotional for you. You and she have to, have to be able to talk this out. You can't just "solve" it by her backing down. You need to articulate your misgivings and she needs to do the same, and you both need to trust yourselves and each other to be completely honest about your feelings and opinions, and then see whether it's possible for your two world views to coexist.

You've often said that, when it comes to certain personality traits in your significant other, the only choices are "figure out if you can live with them or walk away." My question is--how do you know whether something is a broader personality trait or just an isolated instance? My girlfriend of two years is behaving in a way I find really inappropriate with her ex boyfriend. I have expressed my pain about this multiple times, but she acts like she has no control over it because her ex isn't willing to make certain accommodations for me. I can maybe live with this if it's just about her ex--but I can't live with it if it's about her not having enough respect for my feelings. How can I tell?

"she acts like she has no control over it"

Does she actually not have control, or is her position complete boolsheet--both the position itself and the expectation that you're dumb or gullible or smitten enough to buy it?

I expect you know the answer.

What I don't know is whether I can say "boolsheet." Probably not. 


Oh dear lord. I modeled at art school throughout my four years. My fiance thought it was the best thing ever! It was the highest paid job on campus! Give the woman a break, boy.

If only that were all it took.

I don't get it. I'm proud of what my kids make (or will be making shortly).

If my kid wants to buy me a house and share that in a touching moment on "60 Minutes" or "30 for 30," I'm totally okay with that. For them, of course. I'm generous that way. I'll even choke up a little and say, "He's a good boy!"

It can be done! My ex-husband and I both kept in touch with a lot of friends who were our friends-in-common (much less true, admittedly, for friendships that predated the marriage). It was odd and awkward for everyone at first, but my ex and I just kept modeling the new normal as best we could at all the joint parenting things we were at, and people got used to the fact that they didn't need to choose. Go with the flow is great advice...and good for you for not wanting to just run and hide. Plenty of people respond that way to divorce--which was far more hurtful to me than having friends who stayed friends with my ex.

I'm posting this in part because it's hopeful and on point, and in part because I now get to ask if the new normal you're modeling is nekkid. 

surely that is bowlsheet - you know, you wrap your glass bowl in it

If that's wrong, I don't want to be right.

Can having a desk job where you literally spend all day staring at a screen and 95% of the interaction you have with people is through email and IM make you crazy? I guess it doesn't help that I live alone and all my friends are married so I rarely see them so I just end up home with the cat and the TV every evening. But I'm starting to feel so isolated and trapped in my own head with nothing but my own thoughts I might as well be on a deserted island. I meet people but friendships just don't develop like they did when I was younger. I meet people I'd like to date and they seem interested at first, even plan some dates, but nothing happens. I'm starting to feel like I should get a therapist just so I have someone to talk to because if I don't, I'm just going to lose all connection to the human race at some point.

Yes, you can lose your mind from the lack of human contact. (You can also lose your mind from an abundance of human contact, but we give way too much air time to that side of the coin.)

A couple of suggestions for nudging things back into balance: a regular gig somewhere (volunteering, rec sports league, a class in something fun, 1 or 2 x week); a a roommate or roommates; a Big Brother/Big Sister/Best Buddies-type commitment ... (other ideas welcome).

 

I live in Massachusetts and I hate the winter. I'm trying not to be too dramatic here, but I really, really hate it. It seems that every year, as soon as the new year hits, depression and misery set in and stick around for three to four months. There are moments of happiness in there, to be sure, but on the whole, I am wretched. I've tried so many things: Exercise, therapy, short getaways, long getaways, activities that get me out, activities that keep me in. and lots more. I'm at the point where I feel that I'm going to have to forfeit a handful of months every year to unhappiness. I want to move to Charlotte. That specific place, because I've lived there before, and loved it. However. I am a first year teacher fresh out of a Master's program, and North Carolina just passed a law that eliminates pay raises for teachers with advanced degrees, and also eliminates tenure. For me, this means significantly less money now, plus significantly less earning potential and job stability over my lifetime than if I stayed up here. So while I'm certain my quality of life would be improved, we are talking seriously low pay, in a much less-kind-toward-the-teaching-profession environment. I have never made a ton of money and have never felt like I really needed to -- but my student loan debt is real, and so is my desire to have and support a family someday, and to maybe own a home, all of which would be much more difficult, financially, on a NC teacher salary. My fiance is a teacher too, and he's feeling similarly torn. I would love ideas about questions I could be asking myself, or other things I should be considering.

What did you love about Charlotte, and what other location offers many or most of the same things but also has better conditions for teachers. That's the top consideration. 

Or, a more niche option: Find nice boarding schools in areas with a friendly climate (Charlotte included, possibly; I don't know the area) and see if you can get housing as part of your compensation package. 

Good luck.

Meetup!

Okay!

I went to art school and had to draw/paint the nude models. After looking at them for three hours straight trying to get the drawing or painting to look right you only see color or shapes. But then I'm female so ... But every so often we had male models, still the same applies.

(heh heh. you said "apples.")

This chat makes me want to call my parents and thank them for supporting and encouraging me throughout all my life choices, even when they didn't agree.

Do it!

My husband worries incessantly. About everything. And if I don't agree with him, he nags and nags and what seems trivial becomes a full-blown argument. I'm at a conference next week, and would like to go hot air ballooning. My inclination is just to tell him after I've done it, when it's obvious I am fine, but am so conflicted-- I feel like I'm hiding it, but don't want to live the rest of my life not doing things because he doesn't approve.

Before, afterward, whatever your conscience and circumstances dictate, for now.

But, for everything beyond now: Where's the medical intervention for his anxiety? Or the flagging of the abusive undertone to the word "approve"?

The hide-or-don't-hide question is a Band-aid approach to your declaration that you "don't want to live the rest of my life" this way. You need a longer-term one that deals squarely with your husband's condition and/or behavior. Presenting these without value judgments attached: Treatment for him is one; coming to an agreement that you're not going to tell him certain things anymore is another; ending the marriage is another. Please stop looking at this as a case-by-case, tell-or-don't-tell problem and address it holistically. Counseling just for you with a reputable family therapist is a legitimate place to start.

Thank you for posting the quest from "Losing my mind?". I am in the exact same situation (work from home, friends married and live far away). Some days I literally have ZERO human interaction, and feel like I'm losing my mind too. I am trying to get out and do at least a little something different, like signing up for meetups (which have actually gone quite well; turns out most people are nice and like meeting new people), and on line dating (we'll see how this goes). Sometimes I feel a little resentful that I have to put in so much effort, when personal interactions come so naturally to others, but I'm trying precisely to keep from losing my mind.

If it will help blunt the resentment: This is one of the questions/complaints I receive most frequently. The increasing isolation of our culture and the difficulty of meeting people once the school years are over are the two most prominent sub-themes. It's nowhere close to being just you.

I could have written that. I do work in an office, but will regularly go all day with only having had one or two very brief conversations with people. I recently moved to a new town where I know only one person besides my coworkers. Go home to a cat. This week, I decided to see a therapist, "just to check in," and spent almost the whole session crying. But it helped, and I'll be going back. It's sometimes tough to make new friends when you're an adult.

I see your "sometimes," and raise you an "almost always." There's a reason that pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods are among the most expensive, and that the trend in urban planning is away from the suburban model and hard toward mixed-use communities that combine residential with commercial and institutional property. We want to walk to a show, stop at a cafe on the way home and actually use our voices occasionally. 

This response made me laugh because when I, a girl, was a preteen I desperately wanted my own phone in my room (yes, in the dark ages before cell phones). My mom felt she couldn't give me a phone because my brother, two years older, didn't have one. Never mind that he didn't want a phone or almost never talked to his friends on the phone, he got one as a present for Christmas so that a few months later my mom could give me a phone for my birthday and it would be "fair." I won't ever forget watching my brother unwrap the phone I asked for and just shrug ... sigh.

Perfect. Thank you.

I'm going to bolt--not feeling 100 percent today, and the couch is calling. Thanks everyone, have a great weekend and type to you here next Friday.

 

In This Chat
Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997 as a weekly feature for The Washington Post, accompanied by the work of "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis. The column has since gone daily and into syndication, where it appears in over 200 newspapers. Carolyn joined The Post in 1992 as a copy editor in Style, and became a news editor before turning to writing full-time. She is the author of "Tell Me About It" (Miramax, 2001), and the host of a live online discussion on Fridays at noon on washingtonpost.com. She lives in New England with her husband and their three boys.

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