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Hello!

First a short PSA: My friend Dana Norris is looking for relationship/dating-type questions at Role/Reboot. She is all full up on “How do I convince my wife to have a threesome?” questions, so, don’t send her those – she’s covered it. You can email her at deardana@rolereboot.org.

Second, I’ll be here until noon answering short questions that come in on Patreon or Twitter with the hashtag #AwkwardFriday. No comments for now (can’t keep up with both questions and comments at the same time, we’re all wordy motherfuckers). Question away!

What’s a good quick way to shut up brain weasels (shrieking that I am terrible and that I can’t do anything right ever) while I am at work and trying to function?

If you can, stop what you’re doing and take a 5 minute walk around the office or outside. Get drink of water. Come back to your desk. Make a to-do list with two things on it. 1. What’s the one thing you most need to do today? 2. What’s a quick, possibly cosmetic thing that will take a few minutes but give you a sense of accomplishment and momentum? Do #2 first, cross it off your list and then come back to the other thing. When you’re done with those two things you can call the day “good” – anything else you do is extra credit. See the next question also.

(What are) ways to motivate yourself to Do Basic Stuff (cleaning, self-maintenance, emails) when tired all the time?

Rachel Hoffman at Unf*ck Your Habitat has the best system for this I know, an adaptation of The Pomodoro Method. Set a timer for 20 minutes and do what you can of The Thing. Then take a break for 10 minutes. (If you can only do 10 minutes, do 10 minutes with a 5 minute break). On days when you have more energy, you’ll create some momentum and do a couple of cycles. On days when you have less, do one and call it a victory. Getting started is the hardest part, and the reminder “I only have to do this for a few minutes” can help push past that inertia.

For both #1 and #2, there is some evidence that for some people, the sense of accomplishment and momentum that comes from starting a task is its own positive feedback loop. That can’t magically fix physical tiredness, but it can quiet the feeling of “nothing ever gets done.”

How to talk to friendly acquaintances I think are reasonable but then they suddenly defend Trump and I’m shocked.

I’ve run into this a few times recently and here’s what I have done.

  • End the conversation – sometimes gracefully and sometimes not gracefully. “Um, ok, I have to go…to the bathroom” is graceful, right?”
  • Well, that’s one opinion.Result: Awkward silence, them changing the subject.
  • “Wow, that really surprises me coming from you.” Result: Awkward silence if I’m lucky, emotional vomit about how they have their reasons if I’m unlucky.
  • Wow, that’s not true at all, but I’m interested to know why you feel that.(When they get facts really wrong). Result: They repeat a bunch of stuff they learned on Infoshit or Shitebart, I keep saying ‘but that’s objectively not true, I’m confused as to why it rings so true for you,’ until one of us mercifully ends the conversation, perhaps with a sudden need to use the restroom.
  • “Lots of people didn’t survive, though.” (For the “We survived Reagan and Bush, we can survive this, it’s not that bad” crowd). Result: Awkward silence.
  • “My friends & students are terrified of being deported and I’m probably going to lose the ability to get meaningful health insurance for the forseeable future…forgive me if I can’t see any ‘bright sides.'”  Result: They reassure me that ‘It won’t be that bad’ and I say ‘It already is that bad’ and then one of us mercifully ends the conversation, perhaps with a sudden need to use the restroom.
  • Well, every non-rich non-white non-straight person I know is very concerned about (Issue X), so, that’s enough for me to be very concerned, too.” Result: You know what the result is. Awkward silence. Emergency bathroom break.

What I’m looking for is something short that indicates that I don’t agree as I mentally add this person to my “not to be trusted…about anything” list.

Edited to add:

How to politely ask people to call me by my first name, not a nickname? This is most awkward when it’s in passing.

Be boring and correct them. “I’m Katherine, not Kat.” They’ll say some version of “Oh, I’m sorry” and you’ll all go on with your lives. It’s awkward to correct someone, but it’s even more awkward the longer you let it go on without correcting them, so think of it as doing them a favor by speaking up early and often. If I had a dollar for every time I had to say “Actually, I go by Jennifer, not Jenny” I’d have a lot of dollars. In related news, I wish there was a magic spell that gave transgender and non-binary people money every time they had to correct someone about names and pronouns.

Speaking of which…

Tips for changing my brain’s default pronouns for (a transgender person who has recently come out)? Same name=Same pronoun for my brain, but I’m so happy for them!

What if you wrote out in a journal, longhand, a few paragraphs describing this person, how you know them, the history of how you met, and why you like them so much, using all correct pronouns and their name as appropriate? Like you were describing the history of your friendship in a novel or for a person who’d never met them? It’s a way to practice this without practicing *at them.* I know that actors have good luck doing a physical task along with trying to remember their lines, so I wonder if the physical act of writing can help re-wire you a little bit.

I car share with people whose driving frightens me. It would be draining to not car share. My terrified squeaking when they drive crazily doesn’t seem to deter them, how can I make them drive sensibly :-/

You can’t make anybody do anything. You can say, “Could you please slow down?” or otherwise name the specific behavior you observe (use turn signals, be more careful about cutting people off, pay more attention/don’t be on the phone). Have the conversation when they aren’t driving, and say “You probably don’t realize it because you’re so used to driving, but sometimes you (do specific behaviors) and it really frightens me. Can you (stop doing those things/pay more attention)?

If they don’t listen to you and don’t change the behavior, don’t ride with them anymore. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but if this is about your safety it’s your only play – drive yourself, ride with someone else, use a taxi or public transit or other service. “It would be draining not to car share.” It is draining now, in the form of you being terrified to ride with them.

How do I tell my friend her tone is (probably unknowingly) making me feel dumb/condescended to w/out hurting her?

She might be hurt but you still gotta tell her, so, be direct and kind: “I’m sure you didn’t intend to, but when you (name one specific thing she said and did), it felt like you were talking down to me.”

If she apologizes and is more careful in the future, then, good. If she self-justifies or otherwise gets super-weird about it, it doesn’t cancel out the fact that she was hurting your feelings and needed to be told about it. If she keeps doing it, refer back to the initial conversation. “Remember when I talked to you about being condescending? That right there is what I meant. Can you not?

I’m good at being single, but want to also get good at romantic relationships. How?

If you can make other connections (family, friends, colleagues), if you’re generally a kind and considerate person who pays attention to your own needs and the needs of others, if you’re good at speaking up for the things you want and setting boundaries, if you know yourself sexually (whatever that may look like), if you know yourself and the kind of life you want to have, then you already know what you need to know to be good at romantic relationships when the right person comes along. Time to skip to the practical exam, ie, dating some people and seeing if you can find a person who is worth your time and attention.

The missing stair is a prof and also sponsors my organization. Tips?

  • Believe people when they tell you sketchy stuff about this person.
  • Warn new people about what this person does.
  • Use the buddy system and don’t leave people alone with this person.
  • Set boundaries to the extent you can within the organization, like, “Don’t touch people without permission,” “Don’t make sexual jokes or comments.” Document breaches.
  • Document what you observe and talk to your school’s Title IX office? If you don’t know how to do that, find your most-feminist-prof-with-tenure and start there. (Someone with tenure will be less likely to be subject to having Prof Missing Stair on their tenure committee or in another supervisory role. Ugh, I hate academia right now).
  • See also: Student Affairs, Office of Student Organizations. It’s very likely that your school has extensive codes of conduct for student organizations and if this person is violating those they can be removed from supervising the organization.
  • Is it possible to disband and re-found an alternate organization without this person’s involvement?
  • Remember always: Campus organizations, student organizations, are there to SERVE YOU as part of YOUR EDUCATION. You and your fellow organization members are not there to serve Prof Missing Stair. Harassing students is wrong and illegal. It is okay to “ruin the career of an important man” or whatever – it would be actually awesome if terrorizing and harassing students did fucking ruin more people’s careers.
  • Remember also: If some asshole professor harasses you, s/he is not the only prof you will ever have and not your only route to recommendation letters or your career, etc. Other people will support you and help you, and you are not beholden to this person for anything. Never believe people who say “I alone hold the key to what you want and you have to put up with being harassed to get it.”

Top tip for interrupting a man telling a story he’s sure you care about (you don’t) while remaining professional?

Say “Sorry to interrupt you” + ask a work-related question OR excuse yourself from the vicinity.

“Sorry to interrupt you, but I’m on a deadline right now – can you direct me to [needed work information]?”

“Sorry to interrupt you but I need to excuse myself for a second.” + go to the restsoom/go refill your drink/go do whatever.

We’re taught that interrupting is rude and that we’re never supposed to do it and my friends, THIS IS A TRAP. It’s rude to interrupt all the time, it’s rude to interrupt someone’s story with your own much better story, it’s rude when your conversation partner only wants to talk about their stuff and never your stuff, it’s rude when men constantly interrupt women (but not each other). But sometimes you gotta interrupt people, like, when your friend starts that shame-spiral for the 1,000th time or when your coworker won’t stop listing how many calories are in your lunch food. Stop your colleague, refocus the topic back on work or throw down a smoke bomb and disappear.

That’s all for today. Comments are now open. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a guest post from a kind Patreon contributor who took on the “Advice Columnist For The Day” mantle. I meant to post it ages ago and never actually hit “Post”, so, apologies for the oversight b/c it’s a very good read.

Hi Captain!

I just graduated college a few months ago and I’m having trouble finding my way into the real world. I have a decent amount of experience for a new grad, I think. I’ve had jobs doing work relevant to my STEM field, I completed a 7-month-long thesis, and I had a leadership role in a club. While my GPA was not amazing (mental illness dragged me down the past two years), it’s definitely not bad and I know for a fact I was good at my major.

All that stuff should make me feel confident about my job search. Instead, I’ve sent out two applications in three months. I am absolutely petrified of job hunting. Clicking on online job postings sends me into a panic spiral. My heart races when I open up my resume.

Over the years, I’ve tried to be kind to myself about not “living up to my potential.” I try to remember it’s not that I suck, but that my depression/anxiety/maybe-ADD/etc. has its thumb on the scale. But that leads to terror that I’ll always be bad at the basic skills I need to survive on my own and I’ll just crash and burn out in the real world. I was a mess at school. What if the stress is too much for me? And my references, who saw me fall apart at school. How do I communicate with them about my job search when I’m still so mortified? Not to mention the nauseating thought of all the emotional, mental, and literal capital I’m going to have to spend up front settling into a new job, a new home, a new city (I’m job searching near some beloved family a state away).Every time I try to think past one issue, another comes up. The whole topic is a big ball of fear in my mind now.

Consistent treatment for my mental health has been difficult due to moving back and forth from school all the time, but I have a great doctor working with me on medication and I’ve finally found a therapist in the area. My question for you and your amazing commenters is: How do you do the terrifying thing? What tools do you use to move forward when you feel paralyzed with fear? And how do you hold off the self-loathing when you struggle with something you “should” be able to do?

Thanks,

Paralyzed

(she/her pronouns)

Dear Paralyzed,

Congratulations on your recent college graduation! I am honoured that the Captain opened the opportunity for recruit awkwardeers to be the advice columnist for a day, and I very much wanted to answer your letter because it really, really speaks to me. I know from my own experience how hard it is to be in college while living with an illness and I am genuinely proud of you.

Often, the questions we ask are not to the answers we are looking for, but I don’t want to neglect your actual questions, so here goes:

*How do you do the terrifying thing?*

There are two ways that work on their own, but best in combination: you make yourself less terrified and you make the thing less terrifying.

*What tools do you use to move forward when you feel paralyzed with fear?*

You wiggle a little if you can. If you can’t, figure out what you need in order to wiggle a little. A snack? A nap? A hug? Go and get the help and support you need to wiggle a little. If you manage to wiggle a little, be really proud of yourself. Next time you feel paralyzed, and wiggling a little is okay and you feel adventurous, wiggle a lot. Great job! Maybe next time around you can move sideways a little, and then you do that, and so on, and then maybe you realize that you can move forward, or maybe you realize moving forward is not what you want at all because there’s a wall ahead, and then you try and find a door, or realize you want nothing to do with that wall and walk around it until you find something that you want to move towards.

*And how do you hold off the self-loathing when you struggle with
something you “should” be able to do?*

You take yourself seriously, you give yourself permission to feel what you feel, and you focus on being kind to yourself and getting better.

Let me start elaborating on the last point, to take yourself seriously. If you’re too sick to find a job right now, you are too sick to find a job right now. It’s okay. It happens. If you feel too scared browse job listings, you *are* too scared. Don’t beat yourself up about it! Take yourself seriously; if you can’t do it, no one can tell you you should be able to do it. Don’t tell yourself that either. Take your experiences and your life seriously. The job you don’t have right now is not “the real world” — your world is very much real. You
live in the real world already! If you aren’t well enough to do what you want to do, your job is to do everything you can do in order to get better. For instance, if you think you should be browsing job offers, and you can’t because it upsets you so much, be actively kind to yourself. Prepare your favourite meal. Go for a walk. Meet a friend. That’s not procrastination; it’s taking care of yourself and it is and will always be your number one job. If you don’t think you will be well enough soon to find a job you like, apply, interview,
start and have a regular income, make a plan for what you will do instead (e.g. stay with family for some time) Having to find a job when you *have* to because the money is running out is a lot more terrifying and less likely to succeed. Recovering from mental illness is a full-time job and while many people don’t have the luxury to treat it as such, there is absolutely no obligation to work full-time while you’re at it if you can avoid it.

Taking good care of yourself also means facing your anxieties. Not overcoming them, not battling or suppressing them, the first step is facing them. What is the ball of fear you’re experiencing made of? You mention settling into a new job, a new home, a new city. Take a big sheet of paper (or, if you have, a journal) and make three columns, one for each category. Are they still one big ball of fear, or three smaller ones? Pick the one that you think will be easiest for you to think about. What issues do you think you will be experiencing? What exactly are they? How do they look like? Can you put them into words? If you can, write them down into that category. If you have any energy left, think about how you might be able to tackle it. (E.g. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to find a place to live that I can afford.” — “I could ask [person I know in city that I want to live in] if they have
an idea in which part of town I could look for something suited to my budget”). The ball of fear consists of strands, that, when untangled, become more definite, and better to approach than an indefinite big knot.

While you’re at giving yourself permission to feel what you feel, give yourself permission to want what you want. (Poetry time! Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese”). What do you want? (If there’s nothing you want but nothingness, it is your job to create the circumstances that the you who went to college and graduated, who worked on the side in STEM-related jobs, and was captain of a club, who did all those amazing things gets the possibility to come back if she wants.)

If you had a guaranteed income that covered all your needs, what would you do? For instance, it took me a year and a half of self-loathing to realize I wasn’t finishing my thesis because I wasn’t remotely as interested in Green Economy in India as I pretended to be, and that graduating with a degree in South Asian studies would not let me be the physician I had never admitted to myself I wanted to be. I don’t have the resources to start anew and go to med school, but I mentioned that to my thesis advisor and she suggested a new topic for my thesis. This new topic let me write a long chapter on the medical aspects of an issue relevant to my subject, and that helped.

If what you want is to find a job and nothing more, try and reframe. Try not to think of it as “I’m job-hunting”; a job is not an elusive animal, the rare quetzal you might hear but rarely see, impossible to keep alive in captivity. A job is like a pair of pants. You might never find the one that fits you perfectly and stays with you until old age. There are those pants that fit quite well, others that are a favourite for some time that you throw out once you’re over them, those that you try on and discard right away, and so on. It’s perfectly fine to get a cheap pair to make do while you shop around for something more durable. It’s perfectly fine to wear corduroy even if you’ve been a jeans type of person all your life. If you can, start to find something that will do for the moment. If on a day you feel well enough to maybe start an application, tell yourself (better, write it down) beforehand what you will do, such as “Today, I will spend ten minutes thinking about how I’m going to list the things I did at previous job that I liked. I will write down two bullet points.” The more specific the better. Set a timer. Don’t even open your CV; write it by hand or into a different file. If that was something you could do: great job! You are done for the day and you can return to your main job of taking care of yourself and recovering. If that’s something you could not do: commend yourself for trying! Return to your main job of taking care of yourself and recovering, and set a smaller goal the next time.

When you start to feel better over time, and more daring, but postings or your CV still petrify you, find something you can do instead. Is there a job fair near the place you
are looking for a job? Could you go and just hang out for a bit? Do you know people who work at companies you’d like to work at that you can ask about how they got that job and what they can recommend? Can you call HR at a place you’re interested in, introduce yourself and ask if you have a shot at applying? Don’t set out to buy the perfect pants. Allow yourself to not go for the one perfect gig. Go window shopping! Find something you might like and try it on. Give yourself time to figure out what you like first, and when that happens — it will, slowly — the terrifiedness will waver and wane. Once you think you’re up for sending out applications that will require communicating to your references, send them a short note. (I’ve never lived in a part of a world where references are a thing, so I’m not completely sure about that; the framework I nicked from https://captainawkward.com/2012/12/20/410-how-do-i-tell-old-professional-contacts-about-my-recent-name-change-now-that-i-need-a-reference/.
Comments welcome).

Dear Reference,

I hope things are well with you! + Some comment about a topic you
talked about, your thesis, your favourite class, a thought you had
etc.

As you may have realized I was not well during my last two years at
school. I am a lot better now and am setting out to apply for jobs. I
will be interviewing for some jobs in [field]. Would it be okay if I
listed you as a professional reference?

Best
Not So Paralyzed Anymore

Lastly, I recently stumbled onto a small project that sifted through the research on what makes a job good for people individually as well as globally. They also evaluated the research on how to get a job, andI like what they came up with.(I am not in any way affiliated with this project). Basically, they recommend that if you apply for a job at a place where you’re not already known, add a “pre-interview project” to your application. A pre-interview project is something that you wrote/designed/came up with that relates to what they do and could be a valuable contribution to their work. If a pre-interview project is something you can see yourself doing, instead of starting with looking at job postings at an organization or company, you could browse through their internet site, read up on their projects/publications/whatever it is they do and think about whether that’s something you’d like to contribute to, and how you’d like to contribute to it, and maybe even sketch your idea. This will give you a better feel for whether it’s worth applying, and gives you an edge if you do apply. If you can’t come up with anything, that might just mean that it’s not something you want to contribute to and that would be alright too, because you’re taking yourself seriously. Keep on doing that, give yourself permission to feel what you feel, and be kind to yourself.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Signed,

Your friendly street medic

Readers, how do you steel yourself to do the hard things?

 

Dear Captain Awkward,

I’m afraid I might be walking into an Alice situation (a la letter #247). My boyfriend’s family is very conservative and even though he is an adult, he not only lives with them (which is fine) but lives by their rules, curfews, and puts up with their interrogations over who he is spending time with, who his friends are, etc. They don’t know I exist, but he’ll be telling them within a month. He hasn’t so far because due to conservative culture reasons he can’t tell them he has a girlfriend, but rather that there is this girl (me) he wants to marry. And I’m terrified because they’re going to hate me (his mother especially) and I need scripts on how to deal with that when I meet them.

From everything he’s told me (and I take his word for it) I will be considered all wrong because I’m older than him, have been married before, am bisexual (here’s hoping his family needn’t find out, at least initially), am from a different culture (and don’t speak the language he speaks with his family, and his mother doesn’t speak English fluently), I’m not conservative and certainly don’t fit the mould of what a stereotypical wife would be like (I have no intention to just pop out babies, cook and clean, etc., which Boyfriend is fine with but his family won’t be), I’ve already vetoed the idea of us living with his family when we get married, and I’m expecting there to be body shaming.

Boyfriend has said that he expects his family’s displeasure about all of this to be voiced to him, and not to me and I know I can’t force them to like me. Boyfriend is also scared himself about their reaction to his upcoming conversation with them about wanting to marry me. I have tried to direct him to this site so he can read up some great advice about setting boundaries and making it clear what shit he will put up with and what he won’t, but he says that sort of thing is not done in his culture and apparently I just don’t understand (it’s true, I don’t), and while he sees that I’m trying to be helpful, it’s not helping because boundaries is just not the done thing.

How can I support him with this difficult conversation coming up for him (which will be more of an extended series of fights/arguments) while respecting his decision to not have me encourage him to set boundaries, while also being able to set boundaries myself? What am I meant to say to his family when I meet them (and yes, I’m trying to learn the language so I can at least exchange pleasantries with his mother)? (And yes, social anxiety and severe depression is making me overthink all of this, and yes, I am in therapy, but any scripts would help a lot!!).

Any help would be much appreciated,

Scared of future in-laws

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Hello,

Preferred pronouns: they/them

I found out a few weeks ago that my grandmother was in the hospital due to an illness. This surprised me, but I also knew she was getting older. I decided I needed to start thinking if I wanted reconciliation.

When I was around 12 or 13, I purposefully discontinued all contact with her. This was for a lot of reasons. She had never really been involved in the life of my brother or me. She’d drive hours to see my cousins, but would never even call us on our birthdays.

The point of no return for pre-teen me was when I heard she had been speaking badly of my mother (her daughter) over my parents’ divorce (which happened when I was 10). I had heard this a few times, but it hit me especially hard since my mother had finally taken the time to tell me about the physical abuse she’d endured growing up.

My only act of discontinuing contact was to be the one to stop calling. For more than a decade, she has never once called. I had planned on telling her that I no longer wanted to speak to her when she finally called, but it never once came.

Over the years, my mother sought reconciliation and gave forgiveness to my grandmother. I know there’s still issues, but she is grateful for the relationship they have. Still, I’ve never forgiven my grandmother or looked back. Her relationship has, frankly, never been that important to me. It has been important to my brother, he took the time to invite her to his high school graduation and graduation party. She never showed up and it broke his heart.

With the news of her sickness after a particularly bad day in a particularly bad week, I made the mistake of posting a general sort of complaint about my week on social media and added a single sentence of “I found out this week an estranged family member is ill and may need to think about reconciliation”. I was trying to be vague given the sensitive nature of her hospitalization, but my family knows that I haven’t spoken to her since I was young, by choice. (I am not friends with my grandmother on social media.)

I found out a half an hour later that the diagnosis had come: cancer. It didn’t look good, either. Between calling to comfort my mother and brother late into the night, the whole post slipped my mind.

The next morning, my cousin replied very inappropriately and we spoke over messenger about the situation. I knew she was just upset over the diagnosis and tried to be gentle, but firm. I wasn’t going to let her hurt me because she was hurting, but I certainly didn’t want to kick someone who was down. My aunt called my mom later and said she had just been grieving and hadn’t meant to be cruel to me (as I guessed).

During the conversation, however, I realized that actually, I definitely did not want to forgive my grandmother and that I would not regret that decision. I obviously did not vocalize this to my clearly upset cousin, but it struck me then.

Since then, my family has been passive aggressively trying to show me she still cares about my brother and me (such as sending me a photo of my grandmother’s shelf with old photos of us still there and gifts we gave her). I’m worried they told her I was considering calling.

On the one hand, I have never needed her in my life because she’s never tried to be in it. On the other hand, she’s a dying woman who has brought joy and love to at least some of my family and seems to want the comfort of family during what may be the final months of her life. I don’t want to crush any hope she may have for that comfort, but I also don’t want to be insincere or lie.

I know that if I tell my mom, she will communicate my decision to my family (she has always understood my choice and never pushed my brother or me one way or the other). I’m trying to be there for them at a difficult time in their life, but I’m not sure I can be there by coming to some peace with my grandmother that I just do not have (and probably never will).

I’m hoping for advice on how to talk to my cousins about this decision without making their process of grief over the illness of a loved one worse.

Regards,
Not Sorry

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Dear Captain Awkward,

I have a situation that is getting very awkward indeed. In a few months, I will be going on vacation to Tokyo with my best friend. This has been a dream of ours for a long time, so we have a lot of plans. A coworker – with whom I’m friendly, but not very close – heard through the grapevine about my trip and started a conversation about when I was going and what I planned to do.

The week after that, she told me that she was planning a trip on the same dates, and she was so glad to know someone who could ‘show her all the sights’. I was a bit taken aback, but I told her my plans had just included myself and my best friend, and we already have reservations booked for just the two of us for most of the attractions we want to see. She seemed to understand and didn’t mention it again for a while.

However, I later overheard her talking to another coworker about ‘our trip’, and how I had planned everything out for ‘us’ to do. I waited until the other coworker was gone so as not to embarrass her, but this time I told her in no uncertain terms that my plans had not and would not include her. She got upset and said I’d been so enthusiastic about my trip that she’d gotten excited as well, and why was it so difficult for one more person to join us?

Since then, she’s kept talking about ‘our’ trip and what ‘we’ll’ do and all objections I make are completely ignored, even though I’ve stopped being polite and I have told her in front of others that she is in no way involved in my trip. I want to have a great experience with my friend and I absolutely do not want to be stuck playing tour guide to an acquaintance.

Since this is not work-related, I don’t feel like I can bring it up to our managers. I know I can’t stop her from making her vacation plans, even if they coincide with my own, but she already knows the name of my hotel and my rough itinerary from that first conversation, so how can I get it across that my friend and I do not want her with us? I’m concerned that she might have booked at the same hotel or that she’ll show up there, and I don’t want to cause a scene or have to try and avoid her. To my knowledge she’s never done anything like this before, so I’m completely baffled by her behavior. Obviously this problem is a bit different from many of the other letters you get, but I have no idea how to address this situation. Help?

Thank you,
Tokyo Traveller

preferred pronouns she/her

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I’m doing stuff out and about. Join me? Events listed in the order that they’ll happen:

  • Saturday, February 25, 2017: I’m teaching a short smartphone video workshop for beginners  at the Second City Training Center in Chicago. Want to shoot & edit video on your phone? Want to make it look and sound better? Still some spots left! $70.
  • Sunday, March 5, 2017: I’m reading at the final That’s All She Wrote show. 8pm, Great Lakes Tattoo, 1148 W. Grand Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. True stories. Free admission.
  • Saturday,
    cafe-le-jardin-du-petit

    Image of the cafe’s outdoor space (source: TripAdvisor) They have comfier-looking chairs inside, too.

    March 18, 2017: Awkward Meetup in Paris, France. I’ll be at the Cafe Le Jardin Du Petit Palais at 2:00 pm that day, with Mr. Awkward in tow. From what I can tell they have various coffee, tea, and sandwiches in a nice, centrally-located space with free admission. If you know you’ll attend, RSVPs are appreciated so we know to look out for you and how many seats to save.

 

Correction: March meetup will be the 25th again sorry

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX near Waterloo station, 18th February, 11am onwards.

Bad book swap!  Bring any book you don’t want, for any reason (cover too purple, too few explosions, etc.), and take away one someone else didn’t want.  Or just come and chat with us.

The venue sell food in a cafe (standard sandwiches etc.), but they also don’t mind people bringing food in from outside. There are several other local places where you can buy stuff as well. The excellent food market outside has loads of different food options, which can fit most food requirements, or you can also bring a packed lunch.
Meet on the fourth floor, outside the Blue Bar (go up in the JCB lift, lift 7, which is bright yellow and quite musical). I have tried to check with the centre to make sure the Blue Bar is free, but if not I will update this post and in the Facebook group to say where we are – or email me if you’re lost…

Here is the internal map of the Royal Festival Hall: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/RFH_map.pdf

I will have my Cthulhu with me, which looks like this: http://forbiddenplanet.com/3950-cthulhu-baby-plush/  I have shoulder length brown hair and glasses.

The venue is accessible via a lift, and has accessible toilets. Waterloo tube station has step free access on the Jubilee line but not on the Northern line.

The London Awkward group has a Facebook page, which is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/549571375087294/. There is also a thread in the new forums for saying hello.

My email is Kate DOT Towner AT Gmail DOT com

(CORRECTION March meetup will be the 25th.)