—Advice to the Lovelorn, the Overfed and The Deeply Disgruntled


Old-lady-on-doorstep-with-cigarDEAR PORTIA:

I have been writing short stories and poems for most of my life, yet have never had anything published. But that’s not what bothers me. By now I am on a first-name basis with rejection. Yet I still derive great satisfaction from writing, though I am surrounded by critics. Even our Mexican maid, who reads and speaks English pretty well, occasionally weighs in with a scathing critique. Even some of the super-snob people at the Ajijic Writers’ Group seem to like my stuff better than the non-writing critics. My question: to whom should I listen?

Deeply Discouraged

Dear Discouraged:

Pay no attention to the critics. They are like those people who pretend to know the way, but can’t drive a car. Ask any working writer how he/she feels about critics, and you’ll find it’s much like asking a fire hydrant how it feels about dogs.


I am one of those women who simply cannot live without a man. Over a long and happy life, I have had four husbands, all of whom have gone on to meet their Maker. Now I have met a fascinating man who wants to take me down the aisle for what will be my fifth trip to the altar. Yet just recently I discovered that he was once accused of murder. He claims it was in self-defense, and that he was acquitted of all charges by a court in California. Yet I do have to wonder about the personality of any person who would commit such an act, even in self-defense.

Ambivalent in Ajijic

PS: Five is my lucky number.

Dear Ambivalent:

Ditch this dope quick. Once a man kills for whatever reason, he then thinks nothing of breaking the Sabbath, swearing and even belching in public.


I will soon be seventy years of age, but still seem to have all the insecurities of a teenager. Nothing I do ever pleases me, and I live in constant dread of embarrassing myself in front of others. Many people I meet have even worse qualities, but most seem to have made peace with themselves. Why can’t I do the same?

Disgusted with Myself

Dear Disgusted:

Dare to examine what you think are your worst shortcomings. Chances are they will gradually seem mild, engaging little things, and not at all like the glaring defects you see in your friends and neighbors.

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