Wednesday Advice Smackdown
January 25, 2006
To anyone who witnessed my late-night freak-out in yesterday's comments section: Noah does not have the chicken pox. He has a little cold (goddangdingdamndaycare) and a poorly-timed, yet ultimately unrelated rash. He is also teething, and this angers him greatly, so he screamed for SIX HOURS last night, well past my bedtime, so I got a little bleary-eyed and paranoid and turned a couple little red bumps on his elbow into OH MY GOD, A POX IS ON THEE.
And me, since as I've mentioned before, I never had the chicken pox and learned when I was pregnant that the vaccine I got seven years ago has worn off completely. And I can't get re-vaccinated until I completely quit with this delusional breastfeeding thing I do. So...stay away from kids! Kids with rashes!
Anyway, I was wrong and insane, just like I asked you to pray for. Not that there should have been much of a doubt about my insanity.
I can't get up! But I can poop the minute you zip this thing up, so there.
Aw. I'm fairly mean.
ANYWAY. LET'S DO A SMACKDOWN. FEATURED THIS WEEK, QUESTIONS I RECEIVED BACK IN JULY.
What are the odds that any of these people are still reading? I would say none-to-nonexistent.
Dear Oh Wise Amalah,
We're closing in on 2 years of infertility and am transferring, well, not all, but a lot, of my baby-longing towards the idea of getting a dog. But my husband is being very annoying and pointing out that no one's home 11 hours a day and I? Am La. Zy. I promise to walk the poor thing, three times a day and more on weekends, Dad, I swear! But the truth is, I probably won't, and he knows it.
But....I want something to snuggle. Cats aren't possible, he's allergic. I think you went through something similar when you got Ceiba. How did you finally win him over? Is there any hope for me, or should I give up and start treating my stuffed dog like it is real? And then be ostracized as the Crazy Lady in the Neighborhood dragging my stuffed dog around on a least?
Jason caved and agreed to get a dog because he was sick of all the weeping. Yes.
Well, it's a little more complicated than that, but yes, Ceiba is our Obligatory Infertility Dog, adopted right when we were feeling especially beaten down and hopeless. We'd just failed spectacularly with Clomid four straight months in a row and were learning that a unfortunate side effect of this relatively mild fertility drug is that it MAKES AMY LOSE HER DAMN MIND. Like split from reality, even Tom Cruise is tossing starter packs of Zoloft at her and backing slowly out of the room brand crazy.
And I weepily told Jason that I wanted a dog. Max is great and cuddly and all, but...too low maintenance to be a real substitute baby, if that makes any sense. Plus a dog would be something new and shiny and would get me outside on long walks where I might actually talk with people and maybe realize that I would not automatically die if I left the house sometimes.
And Jason said that yes, we should get a dog. And a dog, we did get, and lo, she is SUCH A PAIN IN THE ASS.
We love her to death, don't get me wrong. She's our baby girl and we try to do right by her. But it's tough, since we don't have a fenced yard and have to walk her and she's gotten very poorly socialized in the wake of her broken leg confinement, and as a result she HAAAATES strangers and needs to be retrained. (Although I won't lie, I find her aggressive grandstanding hilarious, because it's such an IMPOTENT FURY. Like a pissed-off ferret.)
But Ceiba saved my life last fall, and that's not an exaggeration. She brought Jason and I closer together and calmed me down and is just SO CONFUSED about who Noah is and why I don't let her lick his puke. And who knows, maybe focusing my energies on her had something to do with the mysterious and against-all-odds "natural" ovulation that allowed me to conceive Noah without the aid of Clomid or an IUI (our next step in the baby quest).
But...you both need to want a dog. They are a huge responsibility and a lot of work. Just like...a baby! How about that.
So I guess I don't really have any actual advice. Which is why this question sat in my Inbox for months while I scratched my head and tried to think of a way to say that yes, dogs are really great but also huge pains so be really really sure you want one and will still want one once you have the baby but dogs ARE great practice for babies but they don't magically walk themselves and need less attention once there's an infant in the house.
Huh. I guess I just said what I thought. Although maybe I'll add that you could also consider getting a bunny or one of those weird hairless cats instead, you know, for the litter-box benefit.
(Ceiba used a litter box for a few weeks. It did...not really work out too well.)
I have 12-year-old boy hair and I'm a girl. Of nearly 25. Stupid hair cuttery. I wanted a pixie cut; the lady gave me the same haircut I see on preteen boys everywhere. Including the fade up the side. Now, this was a few weeks ago, and it's now starting to grow, but now it looks all WEIRD and SHAGGY. I want it to grow, and be longlonglong, because I'm tired of looking like the lead singer from Weezer, but I don't know what to do with it in the interim stage. So...hmm? Any ideas?
Well. Considering poor
Heather wrote this question back in, again, JULY, I'm guessing her hair is well on
its way out of Bad-pixie-cutville and hopefully looking more
respectable. But I will answer this question anyway, for the annals of
1) Pixie cuts? Are very difficult to pull off. And about 75% of the women who request them should...not.
2) THEREFORE: A pixie cut at the Hair Cuttery? Not to pile on with what you already know, but please stand still while I throw bottles of Pantene at you for a minute.
3) ERGO: The only solutions to a bad haircut are:
a) Get a better haircut.
b) Buy hats.
I've gotten bad haircuts. I've gotten bad haircuts topped with bad at-home dye jobs followed by another bad haircut to cut as much of the bad at-home dye job off as possible. This is why I own Coach crusher hats and an adorable little beret. And maybe a straw cowboy hat that SHUT UP, I look totally cute in it.
A pixie cut is hard to correct immediately after because...well, there's just not much left to work with. So while you wait, you can mess around with funky styling products like fibers and pomades and try to find a workable look, or you can wear a hat.
But regardless, you get yourself a good stylist. GOOD. Non-discount-chain good. And you start seeing him or her every six to eight weeks to shape and trim your hair. Yes, it will be a long time before you have longlonglong hair again, but super-short hair left to just GROW, like unattended weeds?
Forget Weezer. Think Dudley Moore. GAH.
The boy, his hair came out of the womb looking this good.
I need some advice about my working wardrobe. I'm starting a business where I will be going into people's homes to provide computer support. What would be appropriate to wear so that I look: professional, but not matronly; friendly, but not like I'm there to clean the garage; knowledgeable, but not [too] geek-like?
To add to my dilemma, I'm a woman who is 5'11", so I don't want to emphasize my already intimidating height. (My target market is senior citizens, who tend to be short. Why is that, btw? Why don't you ever see a really tall old lady?) I really am quite nice and harmless, but at this height, it can be hard to project that "I'm not going to hurt you" image. Also, since I may have to actually crawl around on the floor to reach all those computer wires, I obviously have to wear pants.
I've thought that khaki pants with a nice-ish polo shirt or something would be acceptable (although boring), but then I saw that horrible Merry Maids commercial featuring the two khaki-clad maids merrily dancing around with their vacuum cleaners and whooping it up, and I vowed to never let khaki near my body again. (Maybe I'm being too extreme?)
I generally can manage to clothe myself adequately, if not super-stylishly, for most occasions, but this has got me a bit stumped. I'd like to be at least a WEE bit stylish!
Thanks for any advice, except the kind like my mother offers, which would involve polyester.
While yes, it's really not the best look, a polo shirt and khakis have sort of become the uniform of professionals of the non-suit-wearing variety who still don't want to wear jeans. It's acceptable for casual Friday and trade show booth staffers and IT workers who spend a lot of time crawling around on the floor to make sure your Internet connection is even PLUGGED THE FUCK IN, YOU MORON, CHECK THAT NEXT TIME YOU PAGE ME.
Most old people would think you are extremely lovely and non-scary if you show up wearing neatly pressed khakis and a tucked-in polo shirt. Most young people would just think you're wearing a work uniform, particularly if you get your company's logo stiched on your shirt. (Which is a great way to beg absolution for wearing something you otherwise wouldn't. "See the logo? It's for work! Not a conscientious fashion choice here!")
It's also a very low-maintenance look, what with the no dry cleaning and the easy ironing.
Although I hear you. Boring. And those Merry Maids scare me with their zest for vacuuming and blindingly white sneakers.
But...I generally don't get too worked up about my own work wardrobe. I have to wear suits. And hose. And heels. And blah, whatever. I buy perfectly acceptable suits and maybe dress them up with a cute top and I try to keep my shoes sort-of fashionable, but I am not killing myself to make a bold statement at an office where I am bound to a dress code that bugs me, because why do I have to wear a suit? We have no clients! We publish things! We have websites! No one cares about my appropriate hosiery!
So here's what I would wear, if I were you: yes, some type of easy-iron, non-dry-clean-only khakis. I mean, jeans are just not professional, black pants will be a lint-and-other-people's-pet-hair NIGHTMARE, skirts are out, so...yup, khakis are it. But I'd try to find a flattering lower-waist cut with NO FRONT PLEATS, MY LORD and a boot-cut leg. Try the Gap, which makes pants just for the tall girls, and curvy girls, and short girls, and even the pregnant girls, THANK GOD.
(Whoa, really doling out the little-known shopping secrets here, aren't I?)
High-waisted chinos with pleats and tapered legs are NOT your friend. They are not anyone's friend. They should die and go to hell. Or JC Penneys.
As for a top, I'd wear a slim-fit polo. You know, the girlie style that you don't really need to tuck in. Like Lacoste, or Ralph Lauren. (And places like American Eagle and Gap will have cheaper versions, of course.) It's preppy and neat without being the total IT geek cliche style polo.
Also nice: a button-front collared shirt, especially with the three-quarter-length sleeves.
Oh, and no white sneakers. You buy cute leather flats. They should match your nice leather belt. And you're done. Basic, a little boring but absolutely not scary to any little old people, who will at least be a good regular reminder to take your calcium every day, tall pretty girl.
Also recommended: houndstooth with owl socks.
Dear Wise and Compassionate Queen Amalah,
I have a little issue at work, and I thought you, in your infinite wisdom and knowyness might have some valuable advice for me. See, I have this corker, who is generally nice, and trained me very well when I joined the team and all, and everything seemed good and happy. As time went on and I learned more and took on more responsibility, she...stopped working. Then, I did mostly everything. Eventually, my lovely supervisor (I mean that, she's great) had a talk with the slacker, and instead of things changing, she became petulant, whiny, and given to making excuses for anything and everything while giving everyone puppydog eyes and acting kind of beaten down. Very "poor me" with passive-aggressive baloney mixed in.
So, management has been dealing with the situation, and either she will take care of business, or eventually she'll be gone. That's fine. In the meantime, she's suddenly started to try to bribe me, I think, mostly with food and Starbucks. I like food and Starbucks, don't get me wrong, but she's making me really uncomfortable - I don't want these things from her. We have to all be friendly, as my team consists of only four people, and we all depend on each other, so I really can't just come out and tell her to cut it out. She won't take no for an answer; in fact she rebuffs it with a declaration that we are "friends."
She is 25 years my senior, acts like a child, and I have never, ever, indicated that we were more than congenial coworkers. She's ridiculously sensitive, so telling her that splitting her lunch with me gives me the heebies will result in major fallout. Thank you for any advice, even though I don't think I've adequately expressed the weirdness of this coworker and her food gifts.
(I bet you good cash money that this woman's ass has been canned since Pea sent me this question, but since I am determined to get to every question possible and not get distracted by new shiny ones coming in [the question queue is closed, by the way], I will answer this question anyway, and Pea is free to tell me that I am completely useless in the comments section.)
Obviously there's a lot more going on than just unwanted food and coffees here: this woman is useless, she's dragging your team down and it's obvious that she's trying to get an "in" with you because friends don't fire friends, or because she wants someone to wallow in the whole put-upon-ness pity routine she's got going on. "See what a nice person I am? Can you believe how they treat me? Tell me you can't believe how they treat me, because I am nice."
It's sad. You know it's sad. You've correctly called a bribe a spade here, or something.
The whole "she's a big baby and I want nothing to do with her" business is one issue, because you can't force management to get off the pot and fire her already, and with a four-person team there's not much room to just hit the big old IGNORE button in the meantime. It sucks, but...it's work, and I think every office has someone like this -- someone who makes you want to punch yourself in the damn face -- and this is why God created the half-price happy hour special.
Which leaves us with trying to solve the whole "No thanks, I'm not really thinkin' Arby's" business.
I'm trying to envision the exchange here -- does she go out and buy lunch that you didn't order, or is she cutting her tuna fish sandwich in half and forcing it on you? Is she saying, "Hey, I'm off to Starbucks, can I bring you something?" Or just showing up, white chocolate mocha in hand?
If she's just showing up with Starbucks, it's annoying, but there's not much you can do, other than say you aren't drinking caffeine or only take skim milk or whatever. But that would probably only work for one day, and she'd pull the puppy-dog eyes because SHE IS YOUR FRIEND, YOU SHOULD TELL HER THESE THINGS.
It's like when Krispy Kremes show up at my office. I don't really want donuts, I really don't need donuts, but...I eat the donuts. But I don't bring in donuts to reciprocate. Because...well, I didn't ask for the donuts, and honestly, the last thing this office needs is more donuts. So take the coffee, assert that she really shouldn't have done it, but thank you, and be done with it. Don't feel guilty about not bringing her coffee ever, because...you didn't ask for the coffee, and it will just further fuel Ms.CrazyPants' belief that you are friends.
As for the sharing of the lunch? Or buying you lunch? I can see why that skeeves you out. A cup of coffee is a friendly gesture, but lunch? Thanks, I've got my own. And that's just what you've got to say. Bring your lunch from home every day, even if it kills you.
When she offers food, pull out your little brown bag and say NO THANK YOU. If she insists and puts food on your desk, tell her that seriously, you packed a generous lunch and you just aren't going to eat that, and hand it back. If she refuses, just leave it on your desk and then put it back on her desk at the first possible occasion, with another firm, "Thank you, but I'm full, and this will just go to waste."
If she's going out and buying you a sandwich that you didn't ask for, try to beat her to the punch and go buy your own lunch -- and only YOUR lunch.
And of course, you can try countering the passive-aggressiveness with your own: you're on a diet, you've developed a food allergy, you've become irrationally particular about food, blah blah blah, but...
In the end, it comes down to saying no. You have to frame it nicely because it's work, but...no.
The Advice Smackdown question queue is CLOSED. New questions are no longer being accepted, as I still didn't answer the remaining July questions, and then there's August, and September, and months after that, and I really suck, so here, have another baby picture to distract you from the suckage.