Incompetent Advice

I'm 30 years old, divorced, underemployed, I live alone with one extremely neglected houseplant, and I've had more breakups than Liz Taylor and more jobs than someone twice my age. Do you really want my advice? If so, email Disclaimer: I am not qualified to dispense advice. The only degree of any kind I hold is in journalism, which only qualifies me for good grammar and poor income prospects. Whatever happens afterwards is your lookout.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dear Incompetent...(which is hilarious, you are anything but..)
Your URL was saved in the dropdown menu + slow day, here =....

No drama, sorry. But, I digress.......had an interesting conversation after tennis the other day. One of our group & his girlfriend is having a baby. Excitement all around! And, of course, the question was put to me..."why don't you have a girlfriend?" To which I replied, I believe:

1.Young women think older men are disgusting. Even older women are not into older men.
2. I think most, women, would consider a man 40, depending on his level of fitness. (Forty being the 'new' 30? Or some such crap...) However, absolute cutoff being 45ish. But, I think most women would say 30s. I also think women rule out anyone closer in age to their mom than to them. I think women can find older men hot, but I think they don't tend to have a whole lot in common with them.

Anyways, spring & summer are near which means unlimited opportunities to watch these trainwrecks at some outside bar in a neighborhood near you! (I'm much older than the cutoff, so I have carte blanche to sit back & watch the poor bastards 'crash & burn!)

Great site!


Yours truly

Dear YT,

Oh, my God. The dreaded “Why are you single?” question. Because, of course, being single is the end of the world. Heaven knows that because of single people, the Earth will stop spinning ‘round, the governments of the free world will collapse, and there will be a rain of toads upon Kansas City. (For the record, all you married and settled people out there, that question is ALWAYS out of line. Next time someone asks me why I’m not married, I’m telling them it’s because of I have borderline personality disorder and daddy issues. Then I’m asking if they’ve had to start watching porn to keep the spark alive in their marriage.)

I can’t really tell you why you don’t have a girlfriend. Some guys you can tell within five minutes why they’re single. Usually, it’s one of three reasons: 1. unreasonable expectations (this includes wife-shopper guys who treat women as interchangeable girlfriend units, as well as schlubby guys who want to date sports-loving supermodels who wash dishes in a thong and push-up bra), 2. he’s soul-crushingly boring and boorish, 3. he just hasn’t met the right woman, usually because he either hasn't been looking, or has been looking in the wrong places. Most guys fall into Category 3.

As for the age thing, does it matter? Personally, I’ve dated five years younger and up to 12 years older. I think it’s more important to seek your own level. If someone’s maturity level matches with yours, and you have similar interests, personalities, and goals, then age will become less important over time.

From reading your letter, I get a sense of detachment. You’re watching others crash and burn, but don’t seem to put yourself out there at all. Maybe you’d rather analyze why you don’t have a girlfriend, rather than go out there and meet one. Maybe you’re letting your age be an excuse, “Oh, I’m too old to date, so I’ll just sit this one out.” You’re never too old for anything!

So here’s your task: put yourself out there. Get squashed, rejected, and kicked around. Join an online dating site, ask your friends to set you up, sign up for DateLab, go on a blind date or two. I can’t promise you’ll meet anyone great, or that you’ll even meet anyone passable, but you’ll be moving forward. Good luck!

Monday, May 05, 2003

Dear Shannon,

I was looking to get some advice and I seemed to have stumbled upon your website. Talking to people I know makes me feel so vulnerable, so I thought I might try something new. You only know me by the text I type, so I can tell all. Currently, I'm living in Indiana with a girlfriend who I have spent the last five years with. Our relationship is pretty strong, sex is great and emotionally we really get along well, but she seems to stray a bit. When I say stray I mean she gets really flirtatious with guys and in some cases she does some things I feel cross the line. We've spoken several times about this and she can tell that these types of things hurt me. Something has come up that might put a little strain on our relationship. The company I work for is opening up a new office in Seattle and they have told me that if I move there for a year and get the office up and running, I could move back to Indiana with a very nice pay raise. I have talked it over with my girlfriend and she is really supportive of the job experience, but as my job is important to me, hers is important to her. Because of this, she needs to stay here. Again, we have talked and for the most part we both think it's ok. The problem is I'm not sure I can trust her. If I go away there is a possibility that our relationship will soften and she'll possibly cheat on me. I'm really worried. Can I trust her? Is the job opportunity worth the risk of losing a woman who I have deeply fallen in love with?

What should I do?

Confused in Indiana

Let me start by answering the question you didn’t ask: you should go to Seattle. And I’m not just saying that because my only Indiana experience was getting stranded in the Fort Wayne “International Means One Flight to Canada” Airport.

Let’s look at the facts: You live in Indiana, not a state known for being a whirlwind of excitement. You’ve had the same girlfriend for five years. You have trouble talking to people. A year in a big city far away, learning to try new things, sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

So how do you keep the relationship alive? You say she “gets really flirtatious with guys” without giving any concrete examples. You say you can’t trust her, but, why not? Five years is plenty long enough to establish trust. The truth of the matter is that the “flirting” sounds more like your being insecure than her crossing the line. Generally, people who are insecure don’t have a lot to keep themselves busy: life begins to center itself around one person, and depending on one person to bolster your self-esteem is always going to shape up into disaster. Again, GO TO SEATTLE, not to build your career up so much as to build yourself up and gain some independence. She’ll thank you for it later.

If you’re bound and determined to stay together, that’s 90% of what you need to get through a long distance relationship. “If we’re meant to be together, we’ll be together,” is a philosophy for the lazy and incompetent. You wind up together with someone because that’s what both of you want and you’re willing to work at it. Long distance is survivable, you just have to establish some ground rules: 1. Visit often, but when you do, treat it as a regular weekend. Don’t have big dreams of a perfect time together, because then both of you will become terrified of anything going wrong. It’s a visit, not an audition. 2. Don’t read too much into phone conversations. “I’ve got to go, I’m tired,” means just that, and not “I’m sick of you, go away already.” 3. Find ways to be part of each other’s day-to-day lives. Email, write letters, send little “thinking of you” presents. Good luck!

Dear Shannon,

How do I use my advanced degree to get my own radio show? Dr. Laura has a Ph.D. in physiology, and Tom Magliozzi (from Car Talk) has a Ph.D. in business. My degree in pure mathematics seems to be the perfect background for hosting a political call-in show.

-Dr. Amy

First, I have to establish my own radio show, the “Shannon Hates Everyone Hour.” Then I'll work on yours.

Actually, I think the trick to talk radio is hooking into an angry part of the population: Dr. Laura appeals to misognyists, gay-bashers, and people sick of self-help claptrap, Rush Limbaugh appeals to angry white men. (They have so much to be angry about! Education, opportunities, money, there isn’t a single way that white men don’t get the shaft in America. Barf.) So, I think you ought to start a call-in show promoting the elimination of math in America’s high schools. Math does nothing to build the self-esteem of our nation’s youth, and you can buy into the backlash against the standards movement in public schools.

This Week’s Advice to a Stranger:

I hate everyone. No advice this week, because the world can go stuff itself.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Dear Shannon,

I've been single for awhile now, but I can't seem to get the hang of this casual dating thing. Lately it seems to be a lot less stressful to stay at home and watch bad TV all night rather than deal with the crap that guys dish out. Please tell me how I can become a successful single woman and treat men as the toys they are. I need guidelines (went to J-School, after all.)

Heartbroken in Hell

Dear Hell,

I keep men under my control with a combination of mind-altering drugs, overpriced lingerie and subliminal messages. However, that may not work for everyone. And, judging by my record, it barely even works for me.

I don’t think your problem is casual dating. I think the problem is that you only see two alternatives: casual dating or watching bad TV. In that situation, even I would pick bad TV. Why not get your life going? Go see a band enough times that people recognize you. Become a regular at your favorite bar. Museums. Clubs. Volunteering. Once you’ve got yourself good and busy, not only will you know more people, you won’t have time to obsess about dating.

Side benefits: once dating doesn’t seem like a big deal, it gets a lot easier. Guy had hairy moles and burped at the table? Whatever, you’ve got better things to do. Also, a woman with a busy, full life is about 10 times more attractive and fun to be around. The men will flock. And, if they don’t? Whatever, you’ve got your own thing going and that’s its own reward. Good luck!

P.S. Once you’ve gotten yourself busy, write me again and I’ll give you guidelines on the bold new frontier of Internet dating.

Dear Shannon,

About a year and a half ago, I foolishly repeated, to a dear friend of mine, the words of a Mexican-American caller on a talk radio station. The conversation I quoted revolved around the twin daughters of out current president. Well, I must have done it well, because every time I've seen her ever since then she has begged me--BEGGED me--to repeat it. How do I get her to stop?

No More Boosh Tweenz

Dear Boosh,

Passive-aggressive much? Kidding. Methinks some behavioral therapy is in order. Every time she makes this request, act like you are going to comply. Then bust out with the most obnoxious song you can think of. Suggestion: “Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me, I Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms.”

This Week’s Advice to a Stranger/Nugget of Wisdom:

If pants don't zip up on the first try, successive attempts imply desperation rather than determination.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Dear Shannon,

My church has an annual convention in a different city each year, and my responsibility for the upcoming convention is for the first party of the convention - usually a bunch of icebreakers coupled with dinner. Anywhere from 250-500 people are expected, and the party lasts for about 4 hours.

I had a whole bunch of ideas about icebreaking games, activities and so on. However, people hate icebreakers. They’re lame, they're boring and they suck beyond words. So, here is my party icebreaker, a guaranteed crowd pleaser that requires no planning:

“Say, does anybody have any cool scars?”

Think about it. Everyone has scars, and everyone has cool injury stories to accompany the scars. You can bank on it.

Dear Shannon,

People keep following me out to LA and stealing all of my cheap beer. What should I do?

Underemployed and Loving It

P.S. I'm telling mom you're giving out advice on the Internet again.

Dear ULI,

An important part of life is learning to become unappealing. I call this my “gawk at a baby” theory, in honor of my favored method of escaping a bad first date: find a baby or toddler, and gush for 10 minutes about its cuteness. Sends 95% of men running for the hills, and the other 5% can be handled with a basic restraining order.

Oh, wait, this was about you and not me. The point is, you are going to have to work to make your beer less appealing. In the mighty hierarchy of cheap beer, there is only one thing less appealing than the Beast: National Bohemian.

Also, tell Mom whatever you want. For once, I’m the one with a paycheck. Ha.

This Week’s Advice to a Stranger:

I’m cheating a bit this week, as I actually know this person. I work with her. God help us all.

Dear Stranger,

I guarantee you the entire office does not need to hear about your medical issues. I also cringe at all of the following statements:

“So, I woke up with a terrible rash, and my entire throat closed up.” Yet she can still talk.

“Well, first he’ll have to drink a glass of barium.” Mmm, breakfast of champions.

“The problem is that all four of these kinds of pills are the same size!” Rock on, Grace Slick.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Dear Shannon.

I too just quit my job, and I'm following your good-for-nothing sister into a life of production and cheap beer in LA. Any recommendations on hotspots to see while I'm criss-crossing the country?

Thanks a lot,
401K less in D.C.

Well, if you want a literal hot spot, I'd recommend Borrego Springs, the hottest place in the United States. As it takes balls to move cross country, I also recommend a pilgrimage to The World's Largest Ball of Twine in Darien, Minnesota.

Under general cross-country trip advice, I'd recommend picking up a copy of The Bad Girl's Guide to the Open Road by Cameron Tuttle. Laugh at the title all you want, but it teaches vital road skills like fixing a muffler with a Chicken McNugget, towing your car with pantyhose, and talking your way out of a speeding ticket.

Also, know your way around a car before you go. Do you know what to do if your engine overheats? It's counterintuitive, but turn up the heat. Can you change a tire? AAA can take a while in Nebraska. Get a car-savvy friend to spend an hour giving you a tour. It can save your butt in the wilderness - wilderness being defined as anywhere not on the East Coast.

Finally, take jumper cables, a cell phone or CB radio, trusty maps, flares, a flashlight, a jug of water for the radiator, and twice as many CD's as you think you'll need.

This Week's Advice to a Stranger

This idea was fueled by beers with my new friends Kurt and Yumi. Basically, I will rant at a total stranger in hopes that they become enlightened with my wisdom.

To the Really Annoying Guy at the Black Cat Last Night,

You are not invisible. The bartender can see you. The bartender can also see you pushing other patrons out of the way as you call out for three drafts of Steeeeeelllllllaa with Streetcar intensity. Knock it off.

Also, comb your hair. Over your face. Because I'm frightened of your forehead.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Welcome to my new site! I will be dispensing advice weekly, as I am infinitely better at telling people what to do than achieving anything with my own life.