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by Abigail Van Buren

Serious Student Seeks Time Out From Friends' Chitchat

DEAR ABBY: I'm a junior in high school and taking multiple AP classes. With all the homework we're assigned, I sometimes need to use lunchtime to finish assignments. My problem is my friends follow me into the school library and talk to me while I'm working. Their constant chatter is distracting and prevents me from concentrating on my assignments.

I don't neglect my friends. I spend hours outside of school with them every week. But I'd rather be left alone when I'm trying to work. My friends don't understand that I'm more focused on academics and long-term goals than my short-term social life.

How can I politely get them to leave me alone when I'm working? -- FOCUSED ON MY GOALS IN LOS ANGELES

DEAR FOCUSED ON YOUR GOALS: If you haven't told your friends plainly how you feel and clearly drawn a line, you shouldn't blame them for being clueless when they cross it. Tell them you need to concentrate when you're in the library and that they are creating a problem for you. Not only will you be helping yourself, you'll be doing a favor for other students who are trying to study and who are also being distracted.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 34-year-old woman, and still single. Many people like me enjoy their lives, but I don't. I long to be married and to have a family. But because of my failures in the dating world I'm not optimistic about my chances.

The thought of marriage and family late in life frightens me, and I don't want to raise a child as a single parent. So, at my age, is it likely I may never be married?

I would appreciate it if your readers could share how they were able to change circumstances like mine. -- SINGLE STILL IN LITTLE ROCK

DEAR SINGLE STILL: Please do not resign yourself to singlehood quite yet. People are settling down and marrying later today for many reasons. Because you mentioned that the thought of marriage and family "later in life" frightens you, my inclination is to suggest that you discuss it with a psychologist or other licensed professional to see whether your fear may have been instrumental in causing your relationships to fail.

However, because you requested reader input regarding late marriage, I'm sure we'll hear from them, generously sharing their experiences. I know several couples who married later in life, and they are compatible and happy. Readers, what do you have to say?

DEAR ABBY: I was recently promoted to a new position at work, doing something I have always wanted to do. My supervisor and I are very different -- almost polar opposites, in fact. But we get along great and work well together.

Because we have started working more closely, she is now beginning to consider me her friend, asking me to "hang out" and occasionally offering me recreational drugs. I love working with her, but I don't want to hang out with her outside of work because of our differences. If something were to go wrong outside the office, it would affect our work relationship. How do I keep things strictly professional without offending her? -- WARY ASSISTANT IN ARIZONA

DEAR WARY ASSISTANT: By telling her (with a smile) that your time to socialize is extremely limited and, as much as you enjoy working with her, you prefer to keep your work relationships strictly professional. And should the woman offer you a controlled substance, simply say, "No thank you."

DEAR READERS: It's time for my "timely" reminder that daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday -- so don't forget to turn your clocks back one hour before going to bed. (That's what I'll be doing.)

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)