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Our Wonder World

A Library of Knowledge cannot fail to create a desire to know

Updated: 2018-03-06T04:34:10.925-05:00




Once upon a time, I lived in a tiny shoebox in the East Village and dreamed of a variety of outcomes of my life. This was after years of work to get to that tiny shoebox, to even think I could dream those dreams. I started writing this blog when I was a bartender, growing bitter about the rent.

The Mayan Calendar was wrong; no one knows what will happen. I like to think that the best outcome is something I can't even dream of, a goal that is yet unnamed. My childhood best friend would say,"Go where the day takes you."

But today, something else happened. 

It's not my favorite piece of writing. The editor had a way with some of the words, a snappy bedazzlement of the fonts, boldface, italics, and a peppering of phrases that I'd never repeat. 
But it's the first one. 

That's the best part. There will be more. And life will continue to make more things, that I could never have imagined happening, happen.  

Marblehead Harbor


DSC00447, originally uploaded by RachelHyman.

July 4th was excellent. This is the view from the flare lit Fort Sewell, right before the fireworks began. Magical.



Generally, I don't care much about twitter trending topics. But then I clicked on #thuglife.One might think of the things that are actual in a thug's life, like homework and taking out the trash.Or better.from the last three hours alone:majeeda I take out my own trash. #thuglife jrfinger Watching Ben Bernanke spit it on C-SPAN 3 #thuglife superandrewemt i Order a Cheese sandwich and leave a $20 dollar tip #thuglife briankl92 @Lydiaatthedisco AWESOME! Tonight I didn't eat all my veggies at dinner #thuglife jaylithemermaid'I exercise one muscle and that's my strap finger' #thuglife mandystadt I just sexted. Almost. #thuglifeocblkbarbie On the first date johnny depp told her he robbed banks ... #thuglife arodyo I went to my professional job in jeans and sneakers---#thuglifemandystadt In line at Duane Reade a strange little man begs me to buy him a $12 Classic Pen Set. "As a holiday gift." So I do. #thuglife iamMiCMurda I don't have a wintercoat I drink henny #thuglife jaehood2010 I'll put Super glue on the doorknob #thuglife Beetru2u i cook for me #thuglife DjChefSev eating a fuitcake #THUGLIFEMAYHEMM09 #ThugLife: Goin' to The Sharper Image and buyin' tha whole store. MAYHEMM09 #ThugLife: buyin ' a bootleg of Sherlock Holmes.jheller28 Showered, done with homework, and in bed by 9:00... watch out losers... #thuglife coming throughShowTimeRose this chicken is Great.. im eatin with no silverware #thuglifeNatty_R We blow out matches instead of candles on bday cakes #thuglife lol MastinKipp Balanced mind, balanced diet, balanced exercise, balanced mindfulness practice, balanced #thugLife HypeBigelow She stands up to pee #thuglifeiKicKrOcKz I eat my fries with honey mustard instead of ketchup !! #thuglifeMPCowley Not updating my computer when it prompts me...#thuglifeMSCarrieDee When I used to wash the dishes at my mama house, I only washed the pots. F**k the silverware #thuglife KenHaddad I just got a gym membership #thuglife iKicKrOcKz If ur WiFi dont got a password im gettin on it !! #thuglifetheRealShabna_M eating a candycane after christmas....#thuglife FrankieMcGinty I've seen Dangerous Minds five or six times #thuglifeNotably, there are funnier ones. Go check it out. I don't know any of the above twitterers, but check them out too. Why not. :)You can follow me on twitter too, I'm @rachelhyman¯¯̿̿¯̿̿'̿̿̿̿̿̿̿'̿̿'̿̿̿̿̿'̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ '̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/'̿̿ ̿ ̿̿[...]

On hiring contractors.


Sometimes even I get indecisive; or I buy property in small yachting towns that I love, but live five hours away from. In this case it was an apartment, well under market, that I bought in a Massachusetts sailing town.

First, a few notes:
  • This was a damn solid financial decision. And I'm stoked about leverage for my financial future. Buying foreclosures in rich towns is not as scary as other places, like Detroit. No offense, but that city is not up and coming, this town is more of a blue chip.
  • A punk rock past doesn't preclude the purchase of real estate, especially of real estate in a preppy sailing town. We all grow up eventually, or we should; we don't want to end up wards of the state. Take care of your finances, no one else will.
  • If you love pirates so much, learn how to sail. They all knew.
  • This town is nautically themed and early colonial. I like to think about all the tough ladies who lived here while their men-folk were basically out to sea all the time, and how bawdy and wild they were. I've heard stories, they were way awesomer broads than I am. I try not to out do them when I'm totally over served at trivia night. Instead I stumble home through the charming early colonial streets (never drive after drinking), and drunk dial boys. I like myself honest.
Aside, these things have nothing to do with the topic of hiring contractors.

Buying a place five hours from the city that I live in poses a few problems.
  1. Obviously, I won't be able to enjoy it much, because I don't get up there much. So I should rent it out in the meantime to preserve the investment. Flipping it should only be considered after the tax implications are weighed.
  2. Renovations. I've been spending all my vacation time working on gutting and renovating the bathroom and kitchen. Tonight, after another slow day of tiling, it's become clear that I will not finish before my train back to the city I live in, three days hence. Ok. But every weekend I return up here, I have to bail on my bartending shift. I hate taking the bus, so the train cuts a pretty penny. The costs of doing the labor need to be weighed against the opportunity costs of my traveling here to fix things.
In other words, I need to hire a contractor. Pronto.

I guess my uneasiness comes from realizing a few things:
  • My time is worth more than my labor. This is odd to me, but has become true. Yay, Jobs!
  • Work gives me vacation days so that I might relax, and be recharged for work. It's actually self serving to them, and not intended for me to do other labor-like tasks. Oh. Fail.
  • What did I get myself into? *stress stress teeth grinding stress*
Now I have to find a contractor who can see the place before I leave in a few days, even though the next few days are holidays. Sigh.

A long long year.. starting over.


A year later, I haven't written a peep on this blog. It's been a tumultuous year: funerals, divorces, moves, jobs, trips, purchasing property, working six days a week, trouble, adventures, art shows, broken bones, last minute trains, destiny hitting like a bag of bricks and sometimes hitting like the light from the diner booth windows.

Really, I'm just not sure how much I should share.

I've decided this: just because I don't write the column and I only bartend one night a week, doesn't mean that people have stopped asking me for advice.. *all* the time. I should just give the advice here, so there's a record of good responses, and so people who might not be able to ask or aren't smooshed up in the already running adventure of my life might be able to find some answers.

Sound good to everyone? If you still have questions, you can email them to me and I'll answer them on the blog, but otherwise, I'm just going to give it.

I've been so damn remiss.


Update: I stopped writing my column when I moved to brooklyn, got a big huge great apartment, and a new job at a great big tech company. I'll upload the outstanding columns for posterity, but now that all the hubbub has truly died down, I'm taking my blog back for me for a while.

Be ready.

Meanwhile: There's a deep trench of sadness where my cousin A is perched in a hospital bed in shock trauma at the U of M in Baltimore. He got drunk at a bar, and made the last awful decision of his life- to drive himself home. They cut him out of my Aunt's car, wrapped around trees 30 feet from the edge of the road. Immediate brain surgeries and a helicopter ride aside, he was laid up for everyone to sit and wait and see. What we've seen is the twitching of flexing muscles, pupils dilated at different widths, no eye movement or rem sleep, no meaningful gestures or high level responses to neurological testing, a mri that revealed bleeding in his brain so widely spread that we can hope for very little. There is so much valid anger felt at A for his terrible decisions. He didn't just do this to himself, but to everyone who cares about him, everyone he knows.

It could have been worse. The accident was with the trees, not an innocent bystander. But this best case scenerio is grave and horrible. The anguish he's forced on his parents and brother, his family and friends, is immesurable.

Please, no matter what you drink or how much you drink, don't drive. One drink is really too much. Don't let your friends drive. Take a taxi, call a sober friend to get you, find another way home. The consequences are very real, and very dire.

My heart and thoughts are with my Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins at this time. Please try to think of them if you can, and send whatever good feelings you can towards their recovery, and their peace.

Advice Column #29


Hey Bartender!
I live in a three bedroom apartment, and about four months ago we (my one roommate and I) got a new third roommate. We're all men in our early twenties, and my original roommate and I are straight. Our new roommate, a rather attractive man, spends most weekend nights hanging out with his "best friend", a really nice dude. His bf stays over often, and I'm fairly sure that they're dating, but his bf sleeps on the sofa. I think he does this so the other roommate and I won't notice that he's gay. My other roommate said he saw them kiss once, but they didn't know he was home. We don't care though. In fact, we really like his bf, and think it's strange that he hasn't come out to us, or that he would make his lover sleep on the sofa instead of in his bed. We also think the secrecy is causing tension between them. How do we tell our roommate that we're obviously not bothered by his gayness, and get him to feel comfortable enough to let his bf sleep in his room?

I wish I didn't know any gay men who felt like they had to live a charade, not just with the people who they didn't know, but for the people who were very close to the intimacies in their lives. I've been told that it's just not anyone else's business, and that no one ever had to tell anyone they were straight, then wait for the shocking gasp or the confused look, or worse. Your roommate might not care to tell you, or might not want to handle your reaction or questions. Sometimes breaking the good news to bad people makes the whole situation worse. You're not the bad kind of people to tell things to, so maybe you need to break the news. I think you need to skip the part where you expect your roommate to sit you down and tell you he's gay, waiting for you to tell him that's ok. He probably won't ever do that. You are right in wanting him to feel comfortable. Having anyone uncomfortable in a three bedroom apartment forces everyone to feel on edge, expecially when there's an elephant in the room.

Before you ask him to go clothes shopping with you, or what happened on the L-word this week, try to talk to him like you'd talk to any of your other friends about their relationships. Ask him how he met his bf. Respond like you would respond to any straight dudes talking about a lady in their lives, except don't ask about boobs (this will be good practice for your general ability to talk about feelings, not gear). Give aloof approval and talk about how bf is a cool dude and he looks really happy when they're hanging out. Hope for a look of agreement, but be ready to get the look he fears most when he tells people he's gay. He probably invented that look.

On another occasion, if he still hasn't started letting bf sleep in his room, address the real elephant in the room. Don't have a sit down talk, do it with a side glance. The most macho men I know have perfected this mention and drop strategy of talking about feelings. Generally I don't employ it, but it would work here. While playing a video game, ask him if he wants to take player two. (Or create some similar situation where you're both distracted with something else, but hanging out.) Ask him, nonchalantly, why his bf is always in the doghouse.

Advice Column #28


Hey Bartender!I'm a woman in my mid-twenties, and one of my best girl friends from college lives in the same city where I've been living since college. At first, I was really excited that she had moved here, I mean, she's my girl. When she moved here, she quickly found a boyfriend and explored town with him, so I didn't feel like I had to be the tour guide. When they broke up months later, she hadn't made any new friends besides him and his friends, and was totally crushed. Obviously I was there for her.Since the break up, she refuses to go to any of the fun parts of town because the places "reminded her of him" or she thinks she'll run into him. I put up with the lame places she wanted to hang out with almost without complaint, even though it's really far away from where I live, and a hassle for me to get there. Lately, my life has started to get more complicated and demanding, and my friend keeps getting mad at me. She never asks about what is going on with me, but insists I'm avoiding her by not wanting to trek over to the places she frequents. When I ask her to meet me mid-way, at places literally halfway between our respective domiciles, she gets angry protesting "you know he hangs out around there!" or "but we went there when we were together!". Even our phone conversations have become all about her. I'm tired of giving all the time. Am I a bad friend because I don't want to cater to her every need even though she's still upset about her break up? How long does she get amnesty for her behavior? Oh, what do I do to stop this? Please, help me get my friend back. You are not a bad friend because you have your own life and needs. It sounds like the two of you are in a really bad dynamic right now. Just because she's upset about some boy doesn't mean she gets to walk all over you, and certainly does not mean she gets to dictate how you spend your time. She's taking you for granted, big time, and you're letting her. Just because she acts like a big baby, doesn't mean you have to coddle her. As for her amnesty, I'd say she gets to be needy and upset for a month for every year the relationship lasted. Then you have to cut the cord.Put your foot down. Tell her she's letting this break up affect her too much, that the time for wallowing in sadness and avoiding the fun part of town is over. She needs to be out in the world, and needs to re-associate those places with new fun memories. By standing up for yourself in this friendship, you're also going to force her to react to her actual relationships, not the ones that are finished. When people are reacting only to pain, they often retreat to their childhood reactions to similar pain. Her selfishness isn't about what she needs now, but about what she needed as a child. You gave her a reasonable response to this need to be nurtured, and now, as her real-life adult friend, you need to bring her back to reality. The reality is that she needs to live her life, and so do you. So she can either toast to happiness with you, or you'll toast alone. With regards to the phone conversations being all about her, you need to interject. She's being careless about your feelings, and is overwhelming you with her own. When nothing constructive is being done by talking about the break-up, it really is great to help her think about something else, and let her forget things that are painful. Sometimes you have to lead her to the right behavior- like talking about you, and the many things going on in your life. If she's not asking, you just need to tell her what's going on, and ask her for opinions about your problems. If she turns it back to a conversation about her, you need to bring it back to you again. Insist she return to the present tense, and not drag you through these memories and her feelings about that boy. When you call her the next time, don't ask "how are you?" but ask "how was your day?"[...]

Advice Column #27


Hey Bartender?
My most recent boyfriend was one and a half times my age (24, 36) and during the course of our relationship, I convinced myself that I needed to be with someone significantly older than me due to my abnormal level of maturity (ha!). Now I've met someone who's my age who's wonderful, adorable, and makes me feel like a giddy kid with a new toy that I want to play with all the time. Should I be afraid he's going to ultimately be too immature and hurt me or should I just let myself be happy again?

When given the choice to enjoy your life or tear it to shreds with worry: always choose enjoy. Who knows what this new boy will be like, but right now, it's working well for you. If it stops working for you, then you get to decide if you want to work on the relationship or start over again. That fork in the road is not for a while.

As for the dating older men to reflect your maturity, I have a few words on the subject. Women who date older men are often looking for a man who grew into a type of person that the girl also wants to grow into. Sadly, the men are often looking for someone who they can eclipse. When you're young, try to choose a partner who has similar goals, or dreams of life, as you do- not one who is already living your dream or has already become the person you want to be. One of the greatest joys of love is knowing that as you grow, your partner will grow with you, and you can build your life together. These older-younger relationships often fail because the girl finds herself growing in a different direction than she planned to, or the man wanted someone who was not going to become more like the people he already knew. They're ultimately unsatisfying.

As you are now young, and with someone who makes the world sparkle, be happy. If you're worried about being with the wrong sweetheart, settle your tummy with some words: talk about your future, the far off distant kind of future, twenty years from now- do you both envision life going towards the same horizon? Do you want the same kind of things, adventures, houses, children? Find out all this stuff, and make sure you both share goals. As a team, you can achieve whatever you can imagine, but only if those dreams don't clash. Sure, there's always a little bit of compromise, but make sure the big picture is similar.

I would suggest that you have this conversation on a rooftop, with a plate of chocolate covered strawberries, on a summer night. You should make some strawberry iced tea in the afternoon. Before you climb up to the roof, new lover trailing you, muddle two (not chocolate covered) strawberries with a spoonful of sugar in a shaker, add 3 ounces of gin, a hefty dash of lemon bitters (preferably Fee Brother's Lemon Bitters), and fill the shaker 2/3 of the way with iced tea. Shake it like you mean it. Pour into two glasses, with some ice. Eat the chocolate covered strawberries and toast to the happiness in life. You'll get there, together, by choosing to enjoy life whenever possible, by licking the melting chocolate off your fingertips, and by growing together through all the adventures that await you.

Advice Column #26


Dear Bartender:My fiance and I live in a building with a backyard that we share with our neighbor, who we'll call Constantine. Constantine frequently hosts BBQ's in the back yard, which we are very happy to attend and also help facilitate. There are 4 other apartments in our building, and there is one neighbor (we'll call him Ajax) that seems to take issue with these gatherings. This past week Ajax started an altercation with Constantine in the backyard, which pretty much killed the party. Ajax felt that 12:30 on a Saturday was late enough for people to be making noise. Keep in mind that these BBQ's may have a lot of people, but there is never any loud music, and no yelling or loud talking. I can't even hear them from our ground floor apartment when the windows are closed. There are also roughly ten other apartments that have windows onto the backyard, and no one has ever complained about the noise. How can we calm this neighbor and keep on having our awesome bbq's?It is so hard to stay inside on a hot summer night, especially when you have a luxurious backyard. Living in close proximity to so many people often means choosing between their needs and yours. What makes for a sense of community, however, is the ability to find compromises that satisfy both parties. In the end, at least where I live in New York, unless the police can hear the noise from the front of the building, you're totally allowed to keep on rockin' out. Being technically right isn't going to help the relations of the apartment building, and might start some kind of tenant war that will ruin your summer. I think you need to offer an olive branch here, or at least some drink with sprigs of mint. It sounds to me that your neighbor is feeling left out. Unless there are little kids up there, his Saturday midnight curfew is probably a reflection of a dwindling social life which is highlighted by the parties he hears but can't attend. I think you should invite him to the next bbq. You shouldn't post a flyer in the hallway, or yell up to him at midnight that he could join you. You should make a real honest to goodness invitation, and slip it under his door a few days in advance. Then, the day of the garden party, you should knock on his door and remind him that you would really love to share his company at the party, and does he have a bbq preference? Why go to all this trouble? Because you're actively including him in the party- which, if he takes the bait, will let him know that you aren't throwing parties to alienate him, or annoy him, and that you do try to keep the noise down to a reasonable volume. If he feels included, he won't harbor so much resentment for a normal level of neighborly noise. Sprigs of mint, you say? Oh yes, every summer is made better by the plethora of fresh mint available. If you thought ahead, you'd already have a garden teeming with varieties of the herb. If not, you might want to go to a local farm or plant supply warehouse and buy some bushy plants of the Kentucky Colonel mint variety- the classic julep mint. Apple mint is also a great variety to freshen up drinks. When you plant mint, make sure you plant it in a garden with borders, or it'll take over all adjacent areas. I've often thought of it as a fine alternative to grass (who's going to mow the mint this week?), but few agree with me on that point. The obvious answer is to make some juleps. They're perfect for summer, and perfect for cook-outs. Now, classically, we'd mix sugar, crushed ice, bourbon, and add a few sprigs of mint for aroma. I think we need to amp it up for your party. After all, summer is about fresh options, not clinging to the classics. Let's give your bbq guests some choices, and get that stressed out neighbor loosened up with a frosty glass. I think you should prepare several kinds of simple syrup, and p[...]

Advice Column #25


Hey Bartender!I'm in my mid-twenties, and currently have a job that offers me an opportunity to work for a cause I believe in, extends me incredibly freedom and flexibility in terms of hours and location of work and provides me a steady income. Trouble is the steady income is substantially less than what I know I'm worth and the lack of structure is starting to get to me. Do I need to find a 9-5?It sounds like you have a sweet gig, and if the steady income can afford your preferred lifestyle, and you're happy, then stick with it for a while. Give yourself a time limit to this bliss, so you can leave gracefully before you begin to resent the cause. Sometimes we have to put our own goals before our idealistic vision, but sometimes we can afford to wait on that move. The time limit isn't a quitting date, but a re-evaluation date. In one year, or on each yearly anniversary of when you began this job, you should think about your life goals. If the job is helping you achieve these goals and offering you career growth, stick with it another year. If not, then you need to begin looking for a different situation. As with any job, you want to make sure that you plan for your future by putting at least 10% of your income into a retirement account. If you're making far less than you're currently worth, you might want to look into a Roth IRA, because you'll be paying more in taxes later in your life, when you make what you're worth. I would suggest vanguard, which has a variety of low-cost IRA accounts available. Use this lower tax period of your life to your advantage. I'm no financial planner, just a bartender, so ask your accountant friend about that plan. Right now, you have to decide to enjoy your life in its current incarnation. The stress of our lives is often caused by wanting more than we already have, or thinking we're not getting our due. It's incredibly hard to ignore these impulses and just enjoy ourselves. The anxiety we harbor by expecting ever more of ourselves can be a useful motivator, but must be curbed when we make decisive choices to live pleasantly for a while. You don't need a 9-5 right now, you need to stop worrying about keeping up with people you don't care about. You need a drink, some laughs, and that glimmer in the sparkle of your eye that says you're living your life right now. This time, this flexible less-structured time, is the time you're going to look back at when you have that 9-5, and you better be able to say you spent it well. Don't regret missing your twenties because you were too concerned with starting your thirties. Sure, make responsible decisions: have a retirement account, pay your bills on time, work somewhere that encourages growth and doesn't offend you, try not to live in excesses. Take some risks too. The job that cannot pay you top dollar could make you feel really good about yourself and your work. The extra flexible time can let you travel- before you have a house and a family to take care of. Or you can stay in your apartment and work on the projects that you'll never have time for again. Take the chances now, when you can, before you run out of opportunities to make great stories of your life. You don't have to ask me for permission to avoid the corporate grind for a little while, but you do have to give yourself permission. It's your life, to live as you see fit, by your own expectations and allowances. Your parents, teachers, professors, and peers no longer can tell you what you want, you have to figure it out. Have fun. It's worth it, and so are you. As for those drinks? I'd suggest, for your itinerant life of adventure, either the Fisherman's Brew Lager from Cape Anne brewery, or the Cisco Whale's Tale from Massachusetts. Why? Because I recently came back from a relaxing weekend on the north shore of [...]

advice column #24


Hey Bartender!I'm getting married in the fall to a wonderful girl that I'm very much in love with. However, I'm having increasing tensions with her mother. Her mom is well intentioned, but a little over the top a lot of times. She's trying to help but winds up causing more issues than she solves. For Example, I mentioned once that I liked Apple Cider, and her mom had a case of sparkling cider special- delivered to me about a week later. There were two issues here- 1: The logistics of getting the cider delivered was a hassle for myself and my landlord and 2: It was more cider than I could possibly drink, and a lot of it just got thrown out. Essentially, she has good intentions but does not really pay attention to what other people want, and I feel like I (and others around her) spend their time trying to manage whatever it is she's throwing at us. Her personality really does not vibe well with mine and I have a hard time being patient with her. How can I communicate to her that I know she has the best of intentions, she really needs to just leave me alone most of the time? The most important thing to do, when you are frustrated with your partner's parents, is to find in them qualities that you love about your partner. When you think about Mom-in-law, think about the qualities that you love in your wife, and remember how happy you are to have in your life the woman who taught your wife these qualities. Marriage is about family, and the way you begin the relationship with your wife's mom will effect the way your family interacts with her for the rest of your life. Start off with a little more understanding, and your patience will grow. Despite our best efforts, we all carry around the programming that our parents gave us- and react to things as we've been taught to react to them. Eventually, you're going to encounter this same behavior in your wife, so figuring it out now will make it easier for you later. Think for a moment about what Mom-in-law is doing. Is she welcoming you to the family? Is she trying to show you that she cares for you? Or is she trying to drive you insane with cases of cider? It's most likely that she doesn't mean harm with her gifts, and that she needs to be assured that you feel welcome and know she cares about you. Telling her to "leave you alone" will not work, and will cause a huge rift as you rebuff what she thinks is a welcoming and giving spirit. If you can peremptorily assure her that you feel welcome- or whatever emotional message she's trying to send along with the cider- she might not feel the need to repeatedly assert these welcomes. Also, teach her how to get the result she wants from you in the way that you find awesome. Maybe your family doesn't give gifts, but goes to dinner together or plays badminton in the yard or whatever you do. Explain to her the different manifestations of emotional vocabulary and ask her to participate in your variety. She might just be modeling behavior for you, and you need to pick up on her clues and respond to her. Say in a toast at a pre-wedding function, "I've been happy to learn lately that in-law family likes to welcome new people with often complicated gift giving. I hope that while I learn the traditions and customs of your family, you can also learn the traditions and customs of my family, so as your daughter and I create our own family, everyone can be included!" Givers tend to want to learn, and are usually happy to try something new, but never happy to do nothing. You have to give her something else to do, or you will offend her. Redirect her good intentions toward some goal that you find good. Accept that she wants to be in your life, as she's excited to have you in hers. Remember, you need to learn the emotional language of your wife's f[...]

Advice Column #23


Hey Bartender!My ex and I are both going to a hippie love-fest where either one or both of us may meet someone else. It'll suck. It'll hurt. But there's nothing I can do about it and we both need to move on. What do I drink so I don't have to think about it too much?Awesome. I'm glad you're done with the feelings part, and that you're ready for some new action in your life. You'll grow a new heart a little slower than your liver regenerates, so let's beat on the the organ that can handle it. I would suggest drinking as socially as possible, and by that I mean, never drink without toasting each glug, and never toast alone. Besides making you re-ignite positivity with every swig, you'll have a fun evening of naming all the wonderful things in your life and the lives of those who drink with you, and universal themes of stuff worth drinking to. How you drink (happily) isn't always what you drink. Since you are going to be consuming vast quantities out of nervousness (you'll find in life that progress can cause stress or nerves, which make you speak quickly and drink quickly), you might want to pick something less potent than four fingers of bourbon. I'm going to suggest the gin gimlet. It's lime juice, simple syrup, and gin- but every bartender can make a decent one, and it's easy to tell when you've had your limit, because you can't say "gin gimlet" without saying "gim giblet". At that point, switch to lemonade, which will taste similar, and refresh you. Ask the bartender to hook your lemonade up with some fresh mint, so the new positive "someone else" that you meet will appreciate your amazing breath along with your insistence on toasting to his pretty face. Hey Bartender!I am in the process of buying furniture for new my apartment. I am trying to go with the most environmentally friendly options that also satisfy my deeply rooted need to be stylish and my limited budget. What's a girl to do?It's true, furniture production and shipping are a drain on the world's resources. Yet, we desire to live in a pleasant home, where we have a table to eat from, a chair to sit on, and a bed to sleep on, not to mention end tables, ottomans, wet bars, dressers, bookshelves, and more. Our inner conflict appears unresolvable when the "environmentally friendly" products are so far from our price range, and the products in our price range have traveled so far (wasting gasoline), are made of questionable materials, and just aren't pleasing to the eye. Don't beat yourself up about every detail. No one will hate you for buying that new mattress because you're afraid of bedbugs, or picking up that best sofa ever at ikea because it fits in your budget and your living room perfectly. Since you're willing to try to greenly furnish your new place, let's discuss the many options. There are lots of ways to organize your space without importing tons of prefab plastic from overseas, without skinning animals, without cutting down rainforests, and with style. The first rule in loving the environment is to stay local. Shipping things far distances often causes more harm to the world than the products cause themselves. Great places to find neat stuff include local antique and thrift stores, yard sales,,, and asking your friends on facebook. Freecycle itself is a great resource for not only finding free stuff that is in great shape, but getting rid of the stuff that you don't use without trashing it. There was a time in my life that I would have advocated dumpster-diving, but having lived through the bedbug epidemic in New York, I'd suggest buying things or getting them from people who aren't throwing them on the curb. It's safer, and usually cleaner. Just remember the age old adage: reduce, reuse, r[...]

advice column #22


Hey Bartender!I broke up with the woman that I'd been seeing for a little over three months. I really tried to want to date her more, but my heart wasn't in it. She was already integrated into my social network before we dated, but strengthened her role with all my friends while we were together. I don't want her to go away- she really is a great person- but she keeps making these underhanded remarks in group conversations. Her remarks are little cuts at me. There are so many layers to it that I can't just call her on every comment, but they all hurt. I did break up with her, so I guess a little of this is understandable, but it's been weeks. When is this going to stop? How can I hang out with everyone and not feel like I'm being attacked? Is there a way to get her to stop without blowing up at her in front of all my friends? I can't take this anymore.Sounds like you bruised her ego pretty badly, not to mention her little heart. That aside, public ridicule can only go on for so long before it becomes unacceptable. Oh no wait, it's always unacceptable, but people get a pass among friends when they're hurt. So she thinks that she's a victim of your cold cold heart and can stab at you, evil ex-boyfriend, until you retreat or realize that she's the greatest and you want her back. Maybe she's trying to hurt you, and she thinks public humiliation is a perfect course of action for her closure. You humiliated her by not falling in love with her, so she things she's playing fair. Regardless of what she's convinced herself is acceptable, she needs to learn basic social decorum before she alienates you and all of her shiny new friends. Being in pain is hard, and I hope you can realize she's reacting to that pain. However, she would be happier to either remove herself from your immediate social life or learn to not react so publicly to the trespasses on her heart. The intimacy of pain is similar to the intimacy of love- private. It is rather gracious of you not to try to pull rank on her, and make your friends pick sides. Also, shame on the friends for not noticing that fighting is progressively escalating in front of them, and they're doing nothing to stop it. You can rarely rely on your friends to help you clean up messes, but what they sometimes lack in leadership potential they usually make up in audience participation. You'll have to harness their reticent behavior for your own benefit. At the next impasse of mean little comments, make a 'wincing in pain' face, turn to her and say in your most nonchalant voice, "Easy there tiger." Then get up, walk to the bar (because I assume you and your friends are at a bar), and order two beers. Your friends will take a moment to think about stepping in (but they probably won't), and she'll wonder if she went too far this time. You're speaking then leaving will cause tension and anxiety among the table. You, at the bar, need to take a deep breath, and return as the calming hero to this table. Hand her a beer, a mild peace offering, and say, "you seemed to need another one". Then sit back down, the victor, and start a new conversation about something that isn't your relationship with the woman of a thousand tiny cuts. You don't want to talk about the reasons you couldn't love her, and she doesn't want to make the same social mistake again. Effectively, you are putting her in her place, and saying enough is enough. But you'll do it as a gentleman, not as the jerk she's trying to portray you as. You have to act like you want her to act, as if nothing ever happened. What beer to order? Oh yes, I knew this would come up. For you, I would recommend the Dogfishhead Raison d'Etre (trans. reason for living). It's a mahogany ale brewed with green ra[...]

Advice Column #21


Hey Bartender! So I am friends with this really great guy. He has been dating someone for awhile and from what I understand they are pretty serious. Two weeks ago we were hanging out at this bar and we got to talking about relationships...and how everyone I like seems to have a girlfriend already. The night ended up with me sleeping over at his house, in his bed. Things happened. We haven't spoken since. We agreed at the time that we wouldn't let the situation become awkward, but it has. Why won't he call me back? Can we be friends again? Usually I would give you a drop shot of "what did you expect" in a frosty pint of "let this one go", but perhaps that simple solution won't help you figure out what is going on. What were you doing sleeping over his house? Do you want to date a guy who will go outside the boundaries of his relationship and violate the trust of his girlfriend? Why are you attracted to men who are not available? What do you expect to come of your awkward friendship? But it takes two to tango. If he's in a serious relationship, why did he let some other girl sleep over?First, I want you to stop sleeping over boy's houses when you know they have a girlfriend. Whatever your excuse to yourself was, you need to know that this was a mistake. Any boy who would hurt his lover to have you isn't a boy you'd want. Getting some booty is no excuse for damaging someone else's heart, and no one in this tragic triangle can really feel good about it. Sure, it's his problem, his relationship, and his guilt- but you don't want to be spreading ill will around the cosmos, and you don't want the reputation of being a home wrecker.I'm sure his recent avoidance of you is symptomatic of his guilty feelings about the things he can't tell his girlfriend, or did tell her- and the fury, sadness, and frustration that ensued. I'm not sure you can be friends again. I'm not sure you ever were before. Certainly if he did tell his girl about you, she's not going to want him to hang out with you. And if he didn't tell her about you, he might not trust himself around you, or you around her. Those are all reasonable reactions and fears. The moment you got into his bed, you decided that he was worth less to you as a friend than he was as a fling. That fling was going to end whenever he decided, and it seems to have ended much earlier than you would have liked. Maybe you could be friends with him, but he might never be able to face you. With the fateful night, ended your friendship. So now you have to let it go. Stop calling him.You can either remorse that this fling and friendship have ended so quickly, or you can try to learn from your own actions. What about men in relationships draws you to them? What don't you like about men who are not in relationships? You need to do some soul searching and figure out if you're acting on a past experience: did someone cheat on you and now you are casting yourself in the role of the other woman? are you only allowing yourself to fall for men you can't have because you don't have time for anyone in your life right now? Don't spend this time, as so many women I know would, trying to figure out what he's thinking. Forget him. I mean it. I don't care what he's thinking. He's thinking about himself, and so should you. You don't want him anyway; you want the unattainable or to be the harlot. You need to ignore what he needs and think about yourself more. You weren't thinking about his best interests when you got into that bed, and you need to think about yourself to get your mind out of that bed. You can find a new friend, and there are thousands of single men out there, but until you know yourself well enough to know what led you[...]

Advice Column #20


Hey Bartender!One of my oldest friends got out of a long-term abusive relationship about eight months ago. Since then, she's fallen for a sleazy bartender at a dance club- and has become convinced that he's "the one". He'll give her the time of day to drunkenly make out with her, but he tells her that he's really not into relationships right now. She seems to think that if she falls more and more in love with him, that when he is finally "ready" for a relationship, he'll realize that she's also the one for him. I think she's gone off the deep end. What should I do, or say, or drink?Oh dear, she is really delusional. There are three things that can happen between her and this dude- it can work out, it can suck and not work out, or he could use his position of power over her to really, devastatingly hurt her. What you need to realize about your friend is that she's in a cycle of abuse- she's cruisin' for a bruisin'. The abusive ex-boy was probably not the first abusive person in her life, and will probably not be the last. She's convinced this scum bag is the one, because she's sub-consciously looking for someone who can hurt her more than the last boy. Why? Because the more it hurts, the more she thinks she's in love. Pain is the most comfortable emotion for her.In all likelihood, she thinks the cycle will end differently this time, that pain will lead to pleasure. But no matter what could happen, the outcome will always be another abusive cycle. If the sleazebag dance party bartender turns out to be a saint in black jeans who truly loves her with all his heart, she's going to push any buttons he has until he becomes every other jerk she's ever dated. That's what people in patterns like this do. The repetition is stronger than their will to change it, if that will even exists. Their greatest comfort is that they make whatever has happened before happen all over again, and they can anticipate the feelings, so nothing scary and new happens.In the case of dealing with such confused friends, you need to realize that when she figures out that you are not supportive of her messed-up routine, she's likely to turn on you. You have to know this in advance so that when it happens, and it will, you will realize that she only knows these two roles- to be the victim or the aggressor- and until she learns a new way of loving and responding, the lashing out has little to do with you, and everything to do with her. So be patient, and don't take her venom to heart.Obviously this new Romeo has no intention of making good on his smooches, and your friend will be totally blindsided by his lack of good intentions. Even though it's obvious to us that she should cut and run, she will not be able to hear any reasonable advice that you give her. You can take solace knowing that if she survives the harsh indignities of her love, that she will always remember you as supportive when you said nothing (or nothing terminal), and will show up when she needs you to say either nothing or something else.Only in her most vulnerable state can the most subtle real advice be given. This will come months from now, when her bruised heart is splattered all over the floor behind her. Then, you can agree with her that the jerk was a jerk, and you can compare his jerk-dom to the previous boy's jerk-dom. You can ask her the first time she remembers someone making her feel that way, and let her talk it out until she sees the pattern that she's been repeating. Maybe she'll have a break-down, and you can get her into therapy to discuss all the negative cycles in her life. That's the patented New York way of moving on, with the help of true professionals.It's tot[...]

Advice Column #19


Hey Bartender!We've been together for seven years, and I know I want to marry my girlfriend. What's more, I know she's waiting for me to ask. I bought a ring about a month ago. I just can't figure out how to ask her. I mean, there's tons of cliche's that I'm sure she'd be happy with, but I really do want it to be special. I want her to be able to brag about her engagement, especially since most of our friends are already married or engaged. I just can't come up with anything. Help! My brain is an empty glass. You need to revisit the fundamentals of love. Whenever you do enter a new chapter of your romance, you need to create an excitement about how you are loving each other. When you fell in love seven years ago, your love was fresh and dynamic. You were amazed by her, and she by you. Every morning was a bit magical and every moment with her was romance. Obviously, after years, life settles back in. Now there's no moment to ask her to marry you. It's not on the grocery list or the television line up or at the brunch spot you go to every Sunday. At this point, most people fall back on safe ideas to break that routine. They go on vacation and come back engaged. They go to a fancy restaurant and by dessert they're engaged. There are aspects of these cliche's that can be useful: you want a sense of adventure and a sense of luxury. But adventure and elegance are not enough to rise above the norm; you need to add a sense of wonderment and magic to be overwhelmingly amazed and delighted.How do you create a sense of wonder? You don't. She already has a sense of wonder, you just have to draw it out. Here's where I can give you no answers. Sorry. You know her better than I do, and you need to figure out what she dreams about. And then you need to make it happen. Not the big things, but the precious dreams.Maybe she talks about sailboats and deep sea adventures. Instead of taking her on a boring yacht cruise, get a model building kit of the most complicated boat you can find. Spend a day with her building it, laughing, with glue all over your fingers. Ask her to marry you before you go on the island vacation. The mismatched, sort of looks like a boat sculpture will be on your mantel forever, symbolizing the joy you construct in each other.Maybe she reads too much science fiction and is a big nerd. Make her a scavenger hunt based on science facts that leads her to all the places you both love and let it end at the planetarium, where you two watch a program on space, and ask her before the astronaut ice cream.Maybe she wanted to be a ballerina. You could get those fancy dance slippers (tu-tu optional), and make a dance interpreting your love for her. The sillier the better, lots of leaps. She'll be laughing until she cries, but she'll adore you. Perhaps you could take a couple's dancing class afterwards, to prepare for the big day.The best engagement stories aren't the most expensive or the most outrageous, but the most personal. You don't want to marry an idea, and you don't just want a wife-- you want her. So yes, figure out how to make her feel amazed, like she was when she was a little girl and first went to the aquarium and stared at the huge mysterious fish behind the glass. Make her heart flutter. Break your routine without using a fall-back plan. No matter what you do, don't put that ring into any drink. You'll have nightmares about administering the Heimlich maneuver. At best, you'll have submerged the most expensive thing you own into sticky liquid. Don't do that.That's your homework. Remember: sense of wonderment, personal. Try to make her laugh. Be excited about her, let yourself fall in l[...]

Advice Column #18


Hey Bartender,I'm a senior in college, and I'm having that senioritis problem where I'm not sure what to do after graduation. The job market looks crappy and I don't have a very "professionally oriented" major anyway. I don't want to go to grad school yet, and they say you need life experience to get in. What should I do? I promised myself I'd let go of my anxiety for all of spring break, but some advice would be handy. A drink might help too.The year after college is going to be the most trying year of your life. It will test you and it will not always be pleasant. All those things your professors told you about bright futures and infinite possibilities will suddenly turn into the horror of paying taxes, or worse, living in your parent's house again. Be strong senior. You went to college so you'd have options. You may not be the oldest, most refined whiskey on the shelf. You might not have that unending initiative that drives people to do great things immediately. You can still be great, and have a great life. Only, you have to do it. No one else can do it for you now. Step up.First, find out if your school has a dossier service. Sometimes these are called letter services and are usually in the career services office. Open yourself a file, and give recommendation forms to every professor who still knows your name. Ask them to write you two general recommendation letters: one for a job and one for any graduate programs or grants you might apply for. Tell them you respect them, and hope that by asking them to write you a letter now, you won't have to bother them in a few years if they move on with their careers. Realize that you are asking for a favor, so be gracious. You want as many recommendations on file as you can get, so that if you decide to apply for anything, you can have the dossier service send letters for you, on short notice, without having to remind your professors who you were and how they might remember you. This is important- you will need these letters in a few years and they will not be as easy to come by then.You might want to have a meeting with a few of those trusted mentors and ask them what they think you should do. Obviously, the bartender gives the best advice, but perhaps your teachers can provide professional contacts to jobs, internships, organizations, or research. Who knows, maybe your favorite professor needs an assistant on his or her groundbreaking new project, and you are the perfect candidate for the job. You don't know unless you ask. Ask early, before someone else gets there first.Consider your dreams. Maybe being a rock star is a little far fetched for your first few months, but getting an entry job in the music industry or becoming a roadie for a touring band- you could make that happen. In the professional world, being pesky is called tenacity, so send thank you notes and make follow up calls. Defer your student loans (it's easy, really) and get a job that sounds exciting to you. Do everything you can to explore your options. Work on a boat, teach English in France, get a job on a farm in New Zealand. Don't settle for the coffee shop job unless you have to. For goodness sakes, get out of that town, which ever town you've been in, leave your stuff in your parent's basement while your parents are still living in a house with a basement, or get rid of all your stuff, and get someone to pay you to try something not on the required curriculum. Meet people in bars, walk through open doors, be willing to live your life. Your future is not right now. Your life is right now.The sensible side of me also wants you to think about pu[...]

Advice Column #17


Hey Bartender! My girlfriend of nearly a year broke up with me a few months ago. We didn't speak for a while, but now, after I made a friendly overture, she's been sending me flirty emails. We're supposed to get a drink next week, and I think she may want to start something up. All in all, I'd like to be friendly, if not friends, but I think hooking up would be a bad idea. What should we drink to keep things on the up and up?I am often amazed at how people refuse to recognize the negative impact of an ex-factor. Not how extreme you are- your ex-factor is how many ex-girlfriends you keep around. Why do you need her around, making things awkward? Is it to feel good about yourself? Few people are so awesome that you can't live without them. Do you want to torture future girlfriends? I don't understand. People do this all the time and I never get a straight answer for why. It's a bad idea, this post-love friendship. The point of the silence after a break up is to realize that your life doesn't need the other person, or to find someone else to take their place. I can understand ex-wives or long term (like many years) relationships, those have meaning- those were partners who witnessed your life, and perhaps with whom you still have financial relationships. The girlfriend of one year- she was a project, a romantic interlude, someone who needs to be cut loose. She didn't work out, and neither will this "up and up" date. You sent her a "friendly overture" because you wanted to know if you have a chance. Sure, argue that you just wanted to be friends; create whatever lies you need to tell yourself about how you just wanted to be friends, that this flirting and "starting something up" isn't what you had hoped would occur. This drink next week is going to lead to more rejection, either for you or her. You had closure before, this is about reopening wounds. Listen man, ex's are not good company. They are emotional baggage you need to toss overboard and abandon to the sharks. You learned what you could from her, you had some stories, and now you need to put it behind you. The ex-lovers you keep as friends will only remind you of pain you felt, opportunities you lost, and the people you were- who you will never be again. What you need to do at this meet-up, for once and for all, is to end it. Not have some long drawn out relationship talk about what didn't work or what great times you had together, but end it. Shackle the hopeless part of you that wrote that initial email. Expel the dramatist part of you who wants to be friends out of spite. Give yourself a show of how much she doesn't meet your expectations. Get her wild sloppy drunk and see her worst side, then walk away after putting her in a cab home. Or get yourself wild drunk, and wake up with her the next morning to leave before breakfast. Either way, you need to kill this poisonous friendship before it begins. My advice on total annihilation of your feelings: a Parkeroo. The Stork club spoke of this drink as a "among the more exotic of the restorative category... a sort of bastard martini". You need some restoration from this illegitimate evening. The drink had a slogan: " to drink it while it's laughing at you". Quickly, drink it quickly. To make: pour 2 oz. of dry sherry, 1 oz. of tequila, and a lemon peel over shaved ice, allow to chill, and then pour into a pre-chilled champagne glass. Other fine options for getting wasted while you waste your time with your ex-lover include Kwak from Bosteels or Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot Ale. Pauwel Kwak, a 8% abv Flemish orange beer, is begun with th[...]

Advice Column #16


Hey Bartender!So I spent valentines day at a bar alone, and I met a woman who was drinking away her sorrows with her best friend. I got her number and now we're supposed to go on a first date. Any amazing first date suggestions? I'm a little shy, more of a nerd than a player, and want things to go well. Or at least to have a second date. Please? Wow, isn't that the ideal end to a lonely valentine! Before we get to drinks, we need to talk about strategy. I'm not going to tell you how to get laid (there goes the readership); this column is about how to fall in love with someone. That's what valentines day was really about right? Cards and chocolates are only the beginning to our culture's meek attempt to articulate love. So how do you spark love? Sure, you managed to get a phone number on the most desperate lonely night of the year, but now you're confronted with the pressure of calling her, and going on a date, and of course, courting her. Wow, that's certainly more to live up to than most mornings. You can do it kiddo. I have faith in you, or in me explaining to you what to do, and hopefully you knowing how to take some serious advice.Call her and ask her out. Don't wait or be coy or play games. Just ask her out. That's why you got her number, because you wanted to spend some time with her. If you got her number for some other reason, this might not be the column for you. I'm still too hung up on love to care about anything less. And while you were drinking away valentine's day, likely with a glass of something that I pity you for- you were pining for companionship, not sex. So remember the goal you have set forth for yourself: love, which requires you to spend time with this woman in order for you both to fall in love, then yada-yada, birds, bees, fireworks- not my business. Call her. Focus on her. When you speak to her think of her as the most important thing in the world- this is paying attention. You are paying it to her because she is worth it. Not because you are the "nice guy". You are the guy who actually listens. Your self-depreciating humor is funny. Your interesting stories are actually interesting. Don't spill your guts at her. She'll have to learn to love your guts later. Right now, for a while, you need to hold some things back- this is being mysterious. Are you actually listening to her yet? If you're bored, then you're boring. And don't tell me that you're mom said that, I know. Where do you think I learned this stuff anyway. Back to the date. Ask her to meet you for tea. Tea? Yes, because you don't have to get someone drunk to get them to kiss you. If you do, you shouldn't kiss them back. On this date, you are not goal oriented, you are having fun. Fun is easier if you don't have to figure everything out on the spot. Before your date, discern an attainable fantasy- by fantasy I mean something you want to do that is fantastic. During the date convince her of your plan's brilliance. Then do it. What am I telling you to do? While you're out for tea, say to her "I've always wanted to kiss someone for the first time in a planetarium". Then hand her tickets to the local science museum's planetarium show that starts in an hour. Wink. Or if there's no convenient planetarium, say "I've got this telescope in the back of my car, would you like to join me on some interstellar navigation instead?" Tell her stories about watching Star trek as a kid, or about astronomy club in high school. Valentines day may have passed, but romance is not passing you by. Can you name some constellations? Remember to b[...]

Advice Column #15


Hey Bartender!I'm an average guy, but nobody really likes me. It makes it hard for me to interact with people or go to parties (not that I'm invited very often). I don't want to look like one of those guys who tries too hard to be liked either. What can I do to be more popular without seeming even more desperate? Grow a mustache. No matter how zany your mustache looks, it'll get people to talk to you. It's a conversation piece on your face. At first, it may seem that people are talking to you just because of the mustache, but soon you'll find that the mustache is just an excuse to begin a conversation with you- the rest is just you. It's not a gimmick really, because mustaches are all the rage these days, and grow naturally on dude's faces. Just don't become that dude with the zany hat, that guy isn't very fun. Also, find a bar and become a regular. Go there on a regular basis, on the same nights, and get to know the bartenders and the other regulars. If you find that your pleasant attempts to start conversations with people are not returned, that the bartender can't tell the vodka from the gin, or that people aren't asking questions about your mustache, find another bar and start over. You want to find a community of people that you think you could be happy socializing with. There's no point to becoming popular in a bar full of jerks. Once you find a nice scene, attendance is mandatory (at least once a week). You could be nice, or demure, or whatever you are, but just keep going to the bar. As the other regulars get used to you, they'll grow to like you. Eventually someone will invite you to somewhere else, and by then, you can decide if you want to go or not. Remember- the trick to not becoming that desperate loser is actually not being a desperate loser. You can say no and you can pick your friends. You aren't a loser, and you don't have to worry about becoming a person you aren't. You just need to go have fun. People gravitate towards other people who are having fun, and people with mustaches. You can be you with a mustache, and you can have fun. Popularity, sorry to say, is an attendance award. What should you drink with your new mustache in a bar where you are learning people's names (or giving them hilarious nicknames) and challenging them to games of billiards? Nothing better to cure social anxiety than a butterflies cocktail. The classic drink contains lemon juice, grenadine, applejack, and gin in equal portions of 1/4 ounce each. Tell your new favorite bartender to shake them well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Sure, it's simple, alluring, and tasty- but it creates a radiant air around you which whispers, this guy knows how to have fun. People will like you, you just have to like yourself first. Somewhere along the line, some lady will become jealous of your mustache, and your circle of friends, and shout across the room- how can I get one of those. Tell the bartender to send her down a Clover club on your tab, and after her first sip, say "well, there's the 'stache at least.." Ok, maybe my jokes aren't funny. But this drink is also great, and egg drinks tend to leave white mustaches on the smooth faces of the ladies that drink them. The Clover Club is 1.5 oz gin, 4 dashes of grenadine, the juice of half a lemon, and the white of an egg. Shake these ingredients with some cracked ice and strain into a small wine glass. Just try to have some fun, popularity will follow.[...]

Advice Column #14


Hey Bartender!My mom visits me twice a year. Last time she brought me a gift- a huge, exquisitely ugly painting. It makes my living room look like a discount bordello. She paid a fortune for it. What can I do? I can't leave it on my wall where people will see it. I have no room to store it. I can't get rid of it or my mom will write me out of her will. I need a drink. I wish you would have sent a picture of this horrible painting. Perhaps I could find a drink that matched aesthetically. You have some interesting options here on what to do, and later, the perfect drink. I doubt your mom will write you out of her will over a undesired gift. She's your mom- and loves you unconditionally. That's what moms are for. First, you need to find out how much the painting is worth and who deals or sells that artist's work. Find out how big of a fortune was wasted on the art, and the possibilities of the value of the work appreciating. Art is a funny market, and if you're going to jeopardize your relationship to get rid of this painting, you better cash it in. The internet has a lot of resources for finding other works by the artist, and assessing value. Useful websites to find out the value include,, and of course, You may also find some background information on the artist's work that could help you appreciate it as your mother does. Speaking of, why not call your Mom and ask her what in the painting made her think that it was perfect for you. If she comes up with unfounded answers, you could reply, "while I appreciate the gift, Mom, I think you see much more in this painting than I do, and that it would make you happier to have it in your own house." Then suggest a great place she could hang it. Let her protest, or ramble on about how it was a gift, and bring it with you the next time you visit her- and just hang it on the wall. You too, can insist. You've probably learned this trait from her. Try to understand her appreciating of the work, and try to remember that she was trying to show you those good things by giving it to you- and you missed it. You are not required to live in a prison of things that cannot be re-gifted. You are not required to accept gifts you do not want and that do not fit into your life. Bad art can wreck the relaxing mood of your living room, and you don't need it. An option is to go to and find something to replace it on your walls, or buy a painting from an artist you know and love- for a market (not a "friend-rate") price. You should support artists you like, and not feel compelled to keep art you can't stand. You have agency. If you aren't ready to talk to your mom about how much you don't like the art, you can hang something over it on the wall where it presently hangs until the day before she arrives. The next time your Mom comes to town, go to some art galleries with her and find some work that you really love. Buy it. Tell your mom how inspired you were by her encouraging you to become a young collector, and then- astonishingly- realize the art you've bought displaces the work that your Mom inflicted upon you. You can also use the age old excuse that the old painting doesn't match your new furniture. Ask her if she would mind hanging the monstrous work in her house until you have a place big enough to take it back. When that time comes, tell her you can't imagine the painting anywhere but with her. This second plan has the bonus of actually starting your art collecting, an[...]

Advice Column #13


Hey Bartender!I'm a normal girl who wants to sleep with another woman. My boyfriend feels that if I do, he should be allowed to sleep with another girl. How can I get him to understand that this is different; it's about self-discovery and not sex. I don't want him to use it as an excuse for cheating. If you're in a relationship that defines sleeping with other people as cheating, that's what you're doing. Women are people too, even the ones you're going to use for supposedly meaningless sex. If you want to cheat on him with a girl, for whatever reason, realize that you're telling him that you want to share an intimate part of yourself with someone else, and that he might feel as threatened by that as you feel about his sleeping with another girl. If you really think that having sex with someone outside of your relationship isn't about sex, you're only trying to justify an affair. Come to terms with what you want to do here: you want to have an affair. If you want to do it without him taking equal action, you could lie to him. I would call you a coward for that plan. Or you could offer him inclusion by asking him to participate. A three-some might not be as threatening to him as you're journey of self-discovery, and you could both be involved with the same other woman, and watch each other take part in it. Is it cheating if you're in the bed too?Really, you need to move on from this relationship. Obviously he's probably going to have a hard time trusting you, and you want to sow your wild seeds more. That's fine. You want different things. You need to make a new years resolution to be honest with yourself about what you want and what you need. You need to be with someone, or a few someones, who want what you want. He should be with someone who doesn't think that their own dishonesty is an excuse for anything. You should be in relationships that make you feel good and fulfilled. What should you drink? The Harvey Wallbanger. The drink was allegedly named after a surfer in California in the 1960's. The drink, a dressed up screwdriver, was invented by Donato "Duke" Antone, a legendary bartender who also is accredited with the first pour of the rusty nail. Harvey Wallbanger is served in a Collins glass, filled with an ounce of vodka, four ounces of orange juice, and half an ounce of galliano floated on top. The sixties were a great time of exploration, so here's a signature cocktail! Break up with him, go find yourself, just be honest about what you're doing and realize that you could hurt other people's feelings too. Happy New Year!Hey Bartender!I love my boyfriend, but he drinks icky dark beers and porters. I want, as a new years resolution, to make him more health conscious and get him to switch to light beers which aren't as fattening. I guess he's only drinking them to impress his guy friends, but I'm his girlfriend. My opinion should be more important to him, shouldn't it?The sad truth is that you probably believe that he's drinking dark beer to impress someone, and that you think you can just exchange the dark malty porters for something light. Beer is beer, right? No!Centuries of brewing have made great progress in the varying tastes of different beers. Your opinion should be important to him, but not if it's based in the land of make-believe and advertisements. Light beers don't taste the same. They aren't even in the same league as regular beers. The endless advertising you've seen about the macrobrew beers (Bud[...]

Advice Column #12


Hey Bartender,I've always been the type of person who pursues what they love. Unfortunately, I find that I often burn myself out while throwing all of my energy into projects and jobs that I care about. Ones that I don't care about bore me and I do not excel in them at all. How do I do things I love without killing myself in the process? This is the time of year that we spend all our cash, in the name of saving the economy or holiday giving, and are told that giving is the most virtuous thing we can do. Maybe I'm paraphrasing some Plato that I read years and years ago (as any good bartender has a vague recollection of philosophy they've read), but it's a sloppy way to interact with people and the world. There are times when selfishness is indeed virtuous and helpful. You have to care about yourself more than you care about anything else, or your life becomes dangerous, and not your own. Whoa! What? Did I just misplace the tender in bartender? No. I didn't. It's hard to understand, because we think that the more we devote ourselves to our goals, the better the outcome will be, but it's not always so. Without a bit of restraint, we lack the distance to critique our development as people or how our actions are affecting the progress of our goals. Most things in life barely deserve 70% of our effort (a C will pass), and for most things, that's more than we can muster. We aren't over-achievers in every area of our lives, just the ones we think are important. The fatigue such over-achievers suffer from comes from burning themselves out while trying to push 110% in every area. I'm not saying here that you shouldn't try, but instead that there are degrees of trying. Most things need about 70% to make happen, you don't have to be perfect at those things. The new job deserves about 90% for a few weeks, the old job is probably slipping to 80%- get a raise and don't get fired, etc. The things that really matter: the big goals, the loves, the relationships- we have been too long convinced that we need to destroy ourselves to make these things happen. We need to learn to hold back a part of ourselves. It seems like the wrong thing to do- as Americans we are taught that the harder we try, the better it'll be. In some cases this is true, especially when you have to overcome obstacles, but that 110% comes at a cost. When you toss all of yourself into something, there's nothing left of you to admire what you've done, nothing left to nurse yourself back, nothing left to survive. It is a sloppy way to care about things, and not a way to keep above water. Those who admire the 110% givers are admiring the lost. You have to care enough to succeed, and stop yourself when it hurts. Maybe your goals need 98% of your effort, or maybe you can achieve that goal with 85%. It's not slacking; it's taking a little bit of your life for you. Don't take this to an extreme. If you don't try and don't make any effort, you're going to be a worthless person to be friends with or do business with. Effort isn't black and white, it's not on or off. You need to find the gray areas where you try a lot, but not with all your might. This finesse will allow you to store some gusto for times when you need a little more than you can muster, or so you can teach yourself to relax. You are not selfish, but you need to learn to be, a little, and a little ruthless about it. You have to learn 90%. You have to learn that you need to hold so[...]

My Brilliant Brother


It was a post-xmas miracle! I opened up the local paper, the New York Times, and there was an op-ed piece by my very own older brother!! Yay!! I'm so proud!

Now all of you, go read it and email it to everyone you've ever known.
Besides the awesomeness of it being my brother, it's even awesomer to read what he has to say about sub-prime lending.

You'll be amazed.

The article is here.