Dear Abby, Part 1

Dear Abby,

 

            My girlfriend told me last week that she wants to have a sexual reassignment surgery. I had no idea what it was to “transition” and freaked out when she told me this. Is this normal? Is it a joke? I told her that I needed to go because she was clearly having issues.

            She hasn’t spoken to me since and even though she isn’t telling people that we’ve broken up, she is avoiding me very publically. I just want to apologize for yelling at her and understand why she feels this way. At the end of the day – I do love her and want to be there by her side in any way she’ll let me.

            But I don’t know how to reach out to her when she won’t let me in. I know that I made her feel that way so do you have any advice on how to prove that I am sorry and willing to support her through this difficult decision?

 

Sincerely,

Really Shitty Boyfriend

 

Thalia and Carson sit side-by-side staring at the first submission to the new “Dear Abby” column of the school blog. Thanks to Hayden, the two of them have been brought together by Department Head Teagan, to operate as writers for the column. Thalia and Carson will decide which submissions to answer, and then divvy up who answers which questions, constantly varying what types of questions so that there’s a difference in writing styles to avoid anyone from being bullied.

“Hayden is Taylor’s assistant. They must be really close if she thought we were going to be the best people for this job. An English major and an Anthropology major? Giving emotional advice?” Carson shakes her head even though it’s probably accurate. She did not want to participate in this “Dear Abby” column initially but agreed after several perks were described:

Discounts for any products purchased on campus, excluding food franchises; a letter of recommendation from Professor Taylor Teagan herself upon graduation after two semesters of participation, and free sociology or psychology classes. To a college student, this sounds like the lottery, but there’s no substantial monetary loss to the college with only two writers at any given time – it’s a win-win for everyone really.

“You are taking this one.” Carson states harshly, a stern expression hardening her features. When silence threatens to envelop the room, though, her partner stops the procession.

Thalia replies with a scoff; “Have a bad day?”

“Yes.”

Thalia nods her head with certain dissatisfaction. Working together while pissed off will do nothing for the girls’ awkward friendship, but this is an obligation to which they both agreed. Neither girl is really mad enough to retract their involvement, so they will work together regardless of how difficult it might be at times.

“I know who this is. That’s why I’m having a bad day.” Carson reveals unexpectedly, or at least unexpectedly to Thalia, that in some way she is connected to this person. Neither of them is allowed to reveal that they are working on the “Dear Abby” column to anyone except each other. Hayden only knows because it was her brainchild.

Thalia waits a moment, nodding her head in a different rhythm now. After both agree that the situation sucks, Thalia concedes to take this letter. Carson decides to read the second letter this time.

Dear Abby,

 

            My little sister came out to our parents over the winter holiday.

            She isn’t allowed to tell anyone. People who do know have been contacted by our parents and corrected. They say: “She isn’t homosexual” (and she isn’t, to be accurate, she’s pansexual – her last partner was transgender); “she isn’t bisexual.”

            My poor sister is struggling to remain optimistic even though she will be graduating high school soon. I don’t know what to do because I can’t let my sister be treated as if her identity is a crime. They’re not even religious people!

            I want to have her live with me and cut our parents out of our lives all together but I wouldn’t even know the first place to start. How could I ever be able to care for another person as a parent figure?

 

Sincerely,

Concerned Sister

 

Thalia raises hand at the letter; “And I know this one. That makes this your letter.” Things continue like this for nearly a dozen letters before the two agree to take a break. As it turns out, one of them is moderately familiar with every letter. Or, at the very least, they believe that they’ve heard the real life situation described at some point.

It’s a small world after all; as the song goes!

During dinner a few more emails come in and the two are forced to discuss what type of organization there should be to this project. Thalia’s schedule is lighter at the beginning of the week whereas Carson’s is lighter at the end. Both of them have Wednesdays completely open, which works perfectly in the middle of the week.

Over coffee and donuts, the pair decides that every Wednesday they’ll meet for breakfast and wrap up at lunch after organizing the letters. Outside of team meetings, Thalia has to reply to her submissions on Tuesdays and then Carson will submit hers a week behind on Thursdays. The whole process is painless and will surely put them off on a good food writing this column.

Finally relaxed, Thalia announces that they need to go through the remaining submissions so that they can divvy up the last of the entries. Carson agrees to do all of the reading as long as Thalia keeps the piles organized and print the newest submissions. They’ll stop taking them for this week in one hour, something they convene about on the way back from the café.

Seven “Dear Abby” letters later, Carson gets one that she knows will be her first response. As soon as Thalia leaves for the night she sits down at her computer and begins typing the first entry, starting with pasting the original query:

Dear Abby,

 

            Life sucks. My family is decorated with criminals. My parents are divorced with messy addictions to sex and drugs. My siblings are violent. My friends are insincere and selfish. My teachers are lazy.

            The only thing I can trust is that when I look in the mirror every morning I’ll be pissed off that I know I’m a good person and I’m surrounded by people who can’t meet my level of passion to become better. My anger is eating me up, though, and I don’t know how much longer I can keep looking in the mirror before I give up on myself.

            I’m not suicidal but how can I just wipe my slate clean?

            How do I hit a “refresh” button in my life?

 

Sincerely,

So Tired of This Adaptation of My Life, The Writer Sucks!

 

Carson queues the post to upload first thing in the morning before she enters her reply. This will hopefully make the “Dear Abby” blog a part of everyone’s breakfast conversations. As she prepares her response she remembers the feeling she got that afternoon with Alison last spring – accomplishment. It’s good. When she is done she closes her browsers and shuts down the computer. As she lies down to watch television, she feels as though she needs to text message Thalia. Full of hope, Carson declares that the two of them are going to change the world…

 

Dear – Disgruntled Viewer?

 

            Step One: Cancel the show. Finish this season and cancel it.

            Step Two: Re-evaluate what makes you happiest about your life.

            Step Three: Do that thing that makes you happy far away from here.

            Step Four: Don’t look back.

            Step Five: Start a new show with better writers.

 

            I know that sounds silly, so let me put into terms that do make sense. If doing what you’re doing right now with the people you are with right now isn’t giving you satisfaction, then stop. There is no point whatsoever in sitting here making getting more upset.

            This is college and it can change. You don’t have to finish it, and you don’t have to stay in the same college the entire time. Transferring credits, losing credits, moving – it is an absolute headache; but so is being miserable. Choose a new location far enough away to separate yourself from the life you’ve created here.

            That is the best way to “refresh” your life. Some people will try to tell you that you’re running away from the problem, or that you’re ignoring the problem, but that’s not true. Sometimes people and lifestyles are just toxic. Moving further away from the toxicity will allow you to grow into a healthy adult and create a whole new life that actually fits your goals.

           

Best of Luck!

Abby

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