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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Reviews Editor
Ethan Peterson

This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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« In Which We Find This Onerous To Explain »

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


I'm 22, but I have the dating experience of a 14-year-old. I didn't even kiss anyone until I was a senior in college, and now that I'm out of college I'm trying to "put myself out there" or something. I finally got an OkCupid profile, and now I have kissed two whole people in my life. The problem is that it's so hard for me to "casually" date because it's impossible for even just kissing someone to be "casual" for me. How do I stop being so insecure about myself and my inexperience with dudes?

Kelly H.

Dear Kelly,

Your problem isn’t your insecurity or your inexperience. They haven’t stopped you from being able to recognize what you want and to work for it. You have created an online profile, and you have kissed two people. At least none of them (presumably) murdered you, Kelly.

You need to do two things. First, stop beating yourself up for being a late bloomer. It’s likely that Blaise Pascal never kissed anyone at all. You’re not in high school anymore. Nobody cares. Nobody’s keeping a tally. You shouldn’t either. By risking your life you have shown you’re not afraid, so get out there and get what you want.

Which brings me to my next point: you need to figure out if you want to have a bunch of casual flings or if you want long-term relationships. Just because you started later doesn’t mean you have to make up for lost time – unless you want to. This isn’t about what you think a person should or shouldn’t have done by the age of 22. It’s about what you want and what’s good for you right now. Use a condom, or failing that, pepper spray.


I'm at (yet another) crossroads in my life where I have to choose whether I want to aim for short-term gratification and personal improvement or if I should go for employment security. I've found that for me it boils down to a decision between a postgraduate liberal arts or science degree. When, if ever, is it too old to pursue very expensive and degrees which are almost purely for self-improvement? What's the value of the liberal arts during a recession?

Linda S.

Dear Linda,

When we started college, we gravitated towards a science degree in hopes of finding financial stability, but  ended up being miserable. It was not really a revelation to see that if we wanted to be happy we had to maximize our abilities on a different path.

Training for what you want to do is important, but just doing it is better. If it's in the arts, no special qualifications are really required; I believe Lewis Lapham once killed a guy. Do you need this degree to get a specific job? If yes, then it may be worth pursuing. If not, books are freely available to read without paying some institution an exorbitant sum to explain them to you. Or we can explain them over some hot cocoa and several Thomas Bernhard novels. What are you doing on Friday?


I feel like I'm backsliding into a relationship with an old flame. We broke up after six months and didn't speak for a while after, but we recently rekindled our romance. We have been flirting through text and phone calls without any definite plans of actually getting back together. We currently live in two different states and he always backs out when we make plans. I feel comfortable around him and he conveys mutual feelings. I feel like I'm wasting my time, but I can't seem to move on from the thought of us being together. What do you think?

Jen A. 


Dear Jen,

If he's not Ryan Gosling material we don't think you should pursue this relationship any longer. You want someone who will go the extra mile for you, day and night. He is probably hooking up with several side babes in his area and you're his long distance virtual side babe. You're a thriving beautiful human being and you don't need to wait around for him.

Think about the reasons why you two broke up in the first place. You might feel comfortable relying on him for comfort, but you're better off finding someone who will make you writhe with pleasure without any nonsense. 

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

"Just Say When" - Mindi Abair (mp3)

"I'll Be Your Home" - Mindi Abair (mp3)

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