advice from two disparate persons Archive

She Said, She Said: Advice on Roommates and Trust

Previous installments of The Toast’s advice column from two disparate and imperfect persons can be found here. Last time: Advice on Yappy Coworkers and Being Poorer Than You Want.

I’m currently in the middle of a complicated, messed-up situation in which everyone has hurt at least one other person very badly. As a result, there’s been a lot of talk of “rebuilding trust.” But what does that mean, and how do you do it? Is it just a matter of letting time pass and not screwing up again? Is there anything one can actually do to rebuild trust, or does trust just have to heal on its own, like a wound?

Nicole: Trust! Fascinating. Also, man, this sounds juicy, I wish I had all the gory details. Trust, in my opinion, can be restored, but it’s kind of a bitch. You need to look at the people involved, and decide if it’s worth it. Are you three best friends who’ve secretly murdered a dude and need to keep a united front in front of the police? Then you need to rebuild that trust (via, yeah, letting time pass and not screwing up again, along with–ideally–a conversation involving lots of “when you did X I felt y” phrases.)

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She Said, She Said: Advice on Yappy Coworkers and Being Poorer Than You Want

Previous installments of The Toast’s advice column from two disparate and imperfect persons can be found here. Last time: Advice on Crisis Pregnancy Centers and Abusive Family Members.

I was wondering what the polite response is in a work environment for “I like you, work-friend, but please do not come into my office and sit down to chat about your diet / our crazy clients at this particular juncture because my door was closed and I have a deadline.” I do not want to come off as rude and condescending or “too important,” but I also want to be on good terms with the other women in the office, as the current environment is patriarchal and depressing.

Nicole: OH, GOD. The sanctity of the closed door! I used to work at a place where you could swivel a little knob on your door to reveal a red circle, and that meant “do not knock, do not call me to ask when I will be free, email me or NOTHING,” and it was a wonderful, wonderful system.

This is one of those situations in which I recommend being 80% honest, with the 20% deceit being merely by omission. “Vicki, I’m so slammed right now, let’s start doing a coffee run together at 3pm so we have a chance to gossip [bc it annoys the crap out of me when you come into my office randomly].”

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She Said, She Said: Advice on Crisis Pregnancy Centers and Abusive Family Members

Previous installments of The Toast’s advice column from two disparate and imperfect persons can be found here. Last time: Advice on Relationship Inertia and Past Badness.

In a post-Christmas cleanup effort, I’ve been trying to rid myself of excess baby stuff, including a huge box of diapers my daughter growth-spurted right past, and a bunch of formula that my OB-GYN pushed on me. I kept it in case breastfeeding didn’t work out, but it did, and I know that stuff is expensive, so I’d like it to go to someone who needs it. Ditto the diapers. 

I attempted a donation to the local women’s shelter, but was told they don’t go through baby stuff fast enough to accept diapers or formula. She gave me the name of a local crisis pregnancy center instead. So now, I have a dilemma. This crisis pregnancy center is definitely the type of place that claims to be nonjudgmental but will absolutely pressure women not to have an abortion. On the other hand, they do appear to provide desperate new moms with donations. I hate to support manipulative pro-lifers, but on the other hand, maybe this is the best way to get expensive baby stuff to women who could use it? 

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She Said, She Said: Advice on Relationship Inertia and Past Badness

Previous installments of The Toast’s advice column from two disparate and imperfect persons can be found here. Last time: Advice About Dating Ladies and Having a Bad Sister.

How do you know when it’s time to break up with someone? I’ve never had to so I don’t know. Like if you’ve been with someone for 6 years, and you’re in your 30s and you live with them and you don’t hate them but you don’t love them either, or you do just not the way you think you should, but your work and your identity and your housing and your social life is all basically completely tied to being in this relationship… this relationship which is mostly just… fine. It’s okay. It’s like 50% fine and 50% stressful and frustrating.

Do you leave? Knowing you’ll miss the 50% that was okay and knowing you’ll have to start over completely socially because you were literally completely alone (yes, literally, just trust me on this one) when you met him and everyone you know now is through him? But maybe you’ll be completely and totally relieved to be free of the parts that were bad or boring or just not you? Or maybe you’ll forever regret leaving this person who is so weird and unlike anyone else you’ve ever met and sometimes made you laugh so hard you almost threw up…I don’t know. How do you know?

Nicole: I feel pretty confident about answering this one, because I can start by trotting out some pet theories that obviously do not apply to everyone but are, in fact, extremely accurate. (flexes fingers outward, settles in)

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She Said, She Said: Advice About Dating Ladies and Having a Bad Sister

Previous installments of The Toast’s advice column from two disparate and imperfect persons can be found here. Last time: Dating Disclosures.

My sister is a blonde, blue-eyed white girl and just went away to college earlier this fall. I just found out that she wants to transfer to go to a “less urban” college. 

She’s actually my half-sister, via my father and stepmother, but we typically don’t make this distinction in my family. Due to our 12-year age difference and the fact that we didn’t grow up in the same house (I lived with my mom and visited my dad for summer/holidays), we aren’t super close. We talk on the phone occasionally, text, and I of course visit her when I visit that half of my family. She lives in Texas, which I wish was not such a key part of this situation, but I fear it just is.

We’ve chatted a few times since she went away to college about her part-time job, classes, and missing her boyfriend, who attends a different school a few hours away. I was surprised when I talked to my dad a few weeks ago and he mentioned that she is working on a plan to transfer to a new school. The first red flag to me was that she wants to transfer to her boyfriend’s school, which…eww in general. It’s also not as academically challenging and my sister is very smart. The second red flag was much, much worse–she feels uncomfortable with all of the black, Hispanic, and gay students on campus. Her plan is to transfer to this other school, with is much less racially/ethnically diverse and located in a rural area. My dad is basically like “I don’t want her to be miserable” and “It’s too much of an artsy atmosphere to have anything for her socially” and is caving to her desire to transfer. 

I really want to talk to her about this. I’m just not sure what to say when I get her on the phone. 

Nicole: Oh, man, this is a pretty shitty situation.

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She Said, She Said: Advice About Dating Disclosures

Previous installments of The Toast’s advice column from two disparate and imperfect persons can be found here. Last time: Cultural Appropriation.

I have recently started seeing a Gentleman Caller. Things have not progressed too far, but they have progressed rather more quickly than I expected. This concerns me because I come with a decent amount of baggage. Like, sexual-trauma-related-mental-health-issues baggage that I am actively working on, but nevertheless seems like would be relevant information to know about one’s hypothetical romantic partner when embarking on a new relationship. But that’s not something I know how to disclose without sharing more than I’m comfortable with and/or scaring him off. How and when do I have that conversation? Do I even need to have that conversation, or is this just my self-sabotaging defense mechanism kicking in, trying to scare him off?

Nicole: Well, first, I’m very sorry about your sexual-trauma-related-mental-issues baggage. It’s really shitty that something happened to cause you to have it in the first place, and you definitely don’t want to find yourself apologizing for it when you DO have this conversation. It’s not as though you went to Louis Vuitton and said “what do you have in a vintage cries-during-sex? perhaps a crocodile skin jumps-when-touched?”

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She Said, She Said: Advice About Cultural Appropriation and Identity

Previous installments of The Toast’s advice column from two disparate and imperfect persons can be found here. Last time: Death.

I am marrying my absolute favorite person in the world next year. It’s wonderful, glorious, I’m brimming with happiness, blah blah blah wedding planning is hard, blah blah blah, but there is a specific point of etiquette I’d like to ask about, and I don’t have any real-life people to ask who won’t think I’m ridiculous. The wedding is going to be a fairly chill, barbecue-in-the-backyard-of-our-home, low-key sort of event. I’m trying to figure out favors, and think it might be nice to have little bags of wildflower seeds, and I would like to attach little paper cranes to the bags with our names and the date written on the wings. I learned some basic origami years ago in the girl scouts, and it would be a relaxing diy-sort of project for me, and I think the symbolism behind them is beautiful (I read the Sadako book in grade school, obviously cried inconsolably, became a raging librul pacifist, etc., but I really like the idea of folding a thousand of them and bringing myself and my family a thousand years of good luck) but my fiance and I are both just your average white, USA-ian type folks and I am having trouble figuring out whether paper folding is a pretty craft project that can easily cross cultural borders, or if bringing them into my wedding is going to evoke imperialism and orientalism and atomic bombs, or seem really appropriative and icky and like I’m adopting a symbol from a culture that’s not my own because I don’t *like* the symbols from my own culture as much. I don’t think I have any Japanese friends that I can ask (I mean, I haven’t reviewed everybody’s citizenship forms, or their grandparents’ forms, but it hasn’t come up) and I would feel weird about asking random friends of other east-Asian ethnicities, because damn, white girl, no. And I’m pretty sure if I ask the generality of facebook people will tell me I’m overthinking things, but I’d really rather not be a presumptuous jerk if I can help it, and I know the commentariat at the Toast is varied and culturally aware and kind, and I’d like to hear opinions that might be more well-thought-out and sensitive than “shrug, do what you want, it’s just a decoration.” Or, if it is just a decoration, maybe just the opinion of someone who probably at least briefly considered that it might be more than that.

TL/DR: Paper cranes: pretty decoration that a white girl can use in her wedding, or significant cultural artifact that white girls should probably avoid?

Nicole/Mallory: We’re also white ladies, and while we both lean toward the “better not to do it” camp, we thought it might be wise to broaden the circle beyond “a handful of white ladies.” Official polls demonstrated a moderate “yeah, just don’t do it” consensus; but we also sought the specific counsel of friend-of-the-Toast Sarah Jeong. Take it away, Sarah! Can you stay and help us answer the other questions too? Yes? Awesome!

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She Said, She Said: Advice About Death and Halloween

Previous installments of The Toast’s advice column from two disparate and imperfect persons can be found here. Last time: Nails and Aisle-Walking.

Hi! I have a bit of a time-sensitive question, but no pressure! It’s also probably easy, if that helps?

My next-door neighbor’s husband died two days ago, in a horrific and sudden way. I’ve only been their neighbor for about 10 months, we are just hi-bye friends, though we’ve had a handful of actual conversations (about xeriscaping, cars, neighborly things). I am totally heart-broken for her and for her husband, who seemed like a really good man. I have dealt with enough loss to know about the protocol on how to support her without overwhelming her, but what I am worried about is Halloween.

I love Halloween, and usually put up some hardcore decorations for it. Dark, memento mori stuff. This is my first year owning a proper front yard to decorate, and I’ve been prepping and pinteresting for months. Mostly ghosts and ghouls and dismembered body parts. I have already put a kibosh on the graveyard I was planning on, but I am worried I should just not do anything vaguely death-related because . . . it just seems mean to have up next to her house?

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