book -- has been the best job I NEVER imagined landing.
Q. I'm kidding about savages, but it kind of feels like people skip common sense and go right to overwrought. Is a lot of your job talking people down?
A. Well, we all have our blind spots, and our sore spots, and our freak-outs. That's just part of being alive. So, if part of my job is reminding folks to take a breath every once in a while, I don't mind it one bit. I just hope that folks will do the same for me when I need it.
Q. Which questions or occasions come up the most: work, fashion, rules of etiquette, romance, Facebook?
A. One of the things I love the best about the column is that the questions are always changing. It's like a constantly shifting smorgasbord of awkward situations. For a week or two (usually around the holidays), I'll get loads of family crises. Then there'll be a spate of office dilemmas, then romantic disasters, then Facebook fiascos. But there's always something new. And the great thing is, I can never predict what it will be.
Q. I know that the column was originally intended as a digital advice forum. Social media and digital arenas such as Facebook, Twitter and everything else seem like the current version of the Wild West. Can they be tamed? Should they be tamed?
A . Like my mom used to say to my brothers and me: "It's all fun and games, 'til one of you comes home in tears." And Facebook and Twitter are a little like that. You're right to call them the 'Wild West.' People really let themselves loose online -- which is fun and freeing. But I hate to see people hurt by mean posts; or someone not get a job because they posted pictures of themselves three sheets to the wind. So, if I can prevent that (or help tone it down), sign me up.
Q. And what about wedding questions? Haven't we all been to a million weddings by now? Shouldn't all these questions either be moot by the changing wedding styles or answered by experience?
A . You'd think so, right? But everyone's Big Day walking down the aisle is slightly different from all the ones that have come before -- because it's OUR Big Day, and not the ones that came before. So, brides and grooms (and their moms and dads and maids of honor) develop these little blind spots. We become our own little version of Bridezilla. And I try to help out -- with a kind word or a slap across the face, whichever seems more appropriate. We're constantly on a learning curve, especially when it comes to ourselves.
Q. Do people just flat out lose their minds when it comes to money? Money spent on gifts that aren't followed by a thank-you note? Money spent on gas picking someone up? Money spent on vacation homes with no offer of help?
A . One of the biggest lessons I've learned from Social Q's is that money is so much more than something to buy things with. Between family and friends, money can be a powerful sign of how much we respect each other; it can be a gesture of kindness; it can also be a weapon. So, we take good hard looks at those nickels and dimes. (And no matter what, just get those Thank You notes out PRONTO! People get so upset when they never come.)
Q. How do you find time for it all? Seriously. That is a mighty impressive resume and seems to spread out well beyond the 40-hour workweek. What's the secret to this kind of time-management success?
A. Once I hit 40, I pretty much stopped sleeping. So, I'm up at the crack of dawn, and so grateful for all the funny, freaky, fantastic problems that have flowed into my inbox overnight. I work on them for an hour or two, then I'm onto the next thing: whether it's legal work or design. I'm a juggler, just like everyone else in the world. We're all swamped. And we're all doing out best -- and hopefully, brushing people the wrong way as little as possible. . . .
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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