DEAR ABBY: I consider myself to be a "free spirit." I bike and hike to get around, do not own a car and pretty much try to live "off the grid."
My recently married sister and new in-laws are my favorite people in the world. But they constantly arrange weekend events -- movie nights, shopping trips and coffee bar-hopping. The objective, of course, is the joy of sharing good company.
As a vehement anti-consumerist and anti-materialist, I find it deeply upsetting to be asked to spend money on things I consider to be exploitive industries and endeavors. On the other hand, there's nothing I enjoy more than being in the presence of these kind, loving, nurturing people.
So, just as I can't stand the way they spend their money, I don't want to spoil their good time by being some kind of "psycho naturalist in-law." What can I do? -- PRINCIPLED BROTHER-IN-LAW
DEAR BROTHER-IN-LAW: Limit the movie dates, refuse the expensive coffee dates and do not buy anything you don't need. This doesn't mean you can't accompany your sister and the in-laws on their shopping trips. Reciprocate by inviting them to your home for an evening of board games, conversation or rented movies. Many people have begun to see the wisdom of your philosophy of frugality, so consider yourself in the forefront of a new wave.
DEAR ABBY: I remember when I was a child, the library was a sacred place where one could go and find peace and quiet, study, meditate or just relax and read a good book.
I am 30 now and working on an advanced degree and rely on the library as a place to get things done, but I'm beginning to wonder what happened to that "silence" rule. Patrons talk on mobile phones, converse loudly and act like they're at home. I remember when librarians were quick to make sure the library was quiet, but now they are some of the worst offenders.
If silence cannot be found in the library, where can it be found -- and is there anything I can do to turn back the clock? -- NEEDS PEACE AND QUIET IN WISCONSIN
DEAR NEEDS P AND Q: Much as we might wish to, no one can "turn back the clock." So have a chat with the head librarian and make your concerns known. While it may not be possible to have total silence, it would not be out of line to ask if there is a room in the library that could be designated as a conversation-free and cell-phone-free zone. If the answer is no, speak to one of your professors and inquire if there is a study hall where you can find the peace and quiet you need.
DEAR ABBY: I am an 86-year-old woman, blessed with good health and mobility. I do not need a walker or a cane. My problem is some of my younger relatives grab my arm when we are walking. I know they mean well, but it actually makes it harder for me. I haven't said anything to them for fear of offending them. How should I handle this? -- ELDERLY, NOT FEEBLE IN BEVERLY HILLS
DEAR NOT FEEBLE: I'm glad you wrote because your question is an important one that applies not only to older people, but also to people who are visually impaired.
Often, well-intentioned folks will grab someone by the arm in order to "help" him or her step down from a curb, cross a street, etc. Doing this is counterproductive, and can actually cause the person to lose his or her balance. It is far more effective to offer the person one's arm to take if that person feels he or she needs assistance.
Explain this to your younger relatives.
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