Dear Patti, I am friends with a young couple named Mitch and Brandi. They have two children, James, 5, and Emma, 2. Mitch’s parents are longtime friends of mine. Mitch’s job recently brought them to LA and I sometimes see him on the train since we both work downtown. I stay in casual touch with Brandi through text messages and visit them every few months. Because both sets of parents live far away, I try to be a supportive older adult friend. Brandi is smart, talented, beautiful, strong-willed and sometimes stubborn. Until recently, she was a stay-at-home mom but...Read More
Author: Patti Carmalt-Vener
Dear Patti, I come from a long line of super-achievers. Specifically, everything they decided to do they were hugely successful at and much of the time it seemed to happen overnight. I know the latter isn’t exactly true — that they worked hard to get what they wanted — but the point was always driven home to me when I was growing up that everyone expected great things from me and that failure would never be an option. In school I was expected to get straight A’s. If I got anything lower than that, my parents said they still...Read More
Dear Patti, I’m way too thin, underdeveloped, wear big glasses, have frizzy hair and — to make it worse — I am socially crippled with extreme shyness. All during my teens I rationalized that being shy wasn’t negative because it made me isolated and kept me focused on my intellectual growth and disciplined in my studies. I’ve become used to being invisible and, in turn, learned to ignore others. I’ve recently moved from the Midwest to attend USC on a full scholarship. I figured I’d be OK because I have a very supportive aunt and uncle who live in Pasadena....Read More
Brandi and I have been together over four years. I admit, though, there’s been as much terrible fighting as there’s been passionate loving. I’ve always loved her dearly but have never liked that she’s a daily marijuana smoker, lazy, unambitious and, at times, a huge flirt. Brandi says I’m a nag, a workaholic, too uptight and have too much of a temper. Three weeks ago she suggested we stay together but take a temporary break. It was the last thing I wanted. I wanted to work out our problems cooperatively but she was adamant about separating so I gave in....Read More
Dear Patti, I’m 12, in seventh grade, and Aria and I have been best friends since third grade. We have spent time together after school every day and most of our weekends until a month ago. For four days in a row, Aria kept saying she needed to go straight home after school because she didn’t feel well. Last Thursday, around 4 p.m., I was walking a few streets away from Aria’s house and ran into Aria and Madison. Madison is another girl from our class. Aria looked guilty. She said she was feeling better, and then Madison said the...Read More
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