DEAR HARRIETTE: I am planning to study abroad in Paris next semester. I have a friend (if you can call her that -- she drives me crazy, but I am nice to her) who keeps asking about where I am studying abroad and wanting to know all the details. I am afraid she will want to do the same program as me.
What should I do or say? I don't want to ignore her, but I don't want her coming with me, either. -- Going Solo, Syracuse, N.Y.
DEAR GOING SOLO: It may be hard for you to hold fast, but I think you are doing the right thing by not telling your friend where you are going. If your gut tells you that she will want to tag along -- and if you don't want that -- don't help her figure it out.
You can tell her that you have decided not to talk about your study plans for next semester. In that way, you aren't lying by saying you don't know yet -- which, by the way, only keeps her asking questions as she tries to find out when you have made up your mind. If she asks why you don't want to talk about it, tell her that you want this experience to be unique for you, and you want to do it alone. It's not being mean to be clear about your intentions. It's actually more unkind to be vague.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am taking yoga at a new venue that is cheap and easy for me to get to from where I live. I have been going for several weeks. The woman who leads it picks favorites in the class and doesn't acknowledge the rest of us, except to tell us we are doing it wrong. She doesn't even try to learn our names and sticks with the people she knows and likes.
I don't want to quit, but I want to have a positive experience and enjoy going. What should I do? -- Yogi, New York
DEAR YOGI: The point of doing yoga is to have a peaceful, harmonious experience. If you cannot tune out the teacher's favoritism and center yourself while you are at class, you are in the wrong place.
The students your teacher interacts with may have been coming to class for a long time, and so she naturally gravitates toward them. The irony is that yoga is designed to inspire keen awareness, yet your teacher appears to be oblivious that she is playing favorites.
You could speak to the instructor privately and tell her your concerns before giving up. Tell her what you like about the class and the specifics about what bothers you. Apart from that, the good news is that New York City has many yoga studios. Do some digging, and chances are you can find another affordable studio more suited to your demeanor and in line with the spirit of the practice of yoga.