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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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Entries in hard to say (149)

Wednesday
Feb152017

In Which We Told An Exciting Half-Lie

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.

Hi,

I made some mistakes in my friendship with a co-worker who I will call Jane. Although I am in committed relationship and I told her that, we both have not really brought it up too much since then. It is nice to have someone to talk to at work and if I am beginning honest, things in my relationship have been a bit stale — my girlfriend works long hours as well.

I have been sort of toeing the line with Jane and although I really do like her, I don't want to break up with my girlfriend. Is there anyway to reestablish boundaries? (Nothing physical has happening, although we have come close.)

Theo A.

Dear Theo,

Jane does not sound much like an innocent party either. She knew you were in a relationship and that was probably part of the reason the two of you became so close. There are so many different ways two people can derive sustenance with each other. The kind you have chosen is essentially unhealthy, since it lacks real intimacy with either party, but maybe that is just the sort of arrangement you prefer.

The real problem is in your primary relationship. Maybe you don't want to be with someone who works such long hours. Normally I would advocate a fresh lie, but telling everyone involved the truth is most likely going to lead to your best result. Half relationships can sometimes become full relationships, and it is possible either of these situations might be repaired to your satisfaction.

Hi,

It is always disgusting or skeezy to ask someone who you met while they are working? I have built up rapport with an administrator who is employed at a hotel I often visit for work. I don't want to make her uncomfortable by hitting on her, but there must be some way of letting her know I am really interested.

thanks,

Daniel S.

Dear Daniel,

She has to deal with this a lot in her job. Building "rapport" as you call it is really just an aspect of service jobs. You're a client and thus you receive this treatment because you have paid to receive it. It is really no indication of romantic interest on her part. 

It is OK to drop hints, but never intrude on her private space or well-being. If she really picks up on what you are broadcasting, maybe it is then OK to straightforwardly ask if something more is going on. Without that green-light, you are just being a dick.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Wednesday
Feb012017

In Which We Have Recalled The Full Story Now

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.

Hi,

Last March I had a brief relationship with a co-worker, who I will call Sam. The relationship ended when Sam was transferred to another part of the company - it's about an two hours drive away. I never heard that it was because another employee found out about us, and transfers are frequent. 

I miss Sam a lot, and I have thought about asking for a transfer or leaving my job so that this would not be an obstacle to us being together. When I talk to him about it, he is mostly focused on the repercussions for his career. He does say he wants to be together, but it seems impossible right now. Can you suggest any course of action?

Nadine A.

 

Dear Nadine,

A man is a beautiful thing. He smells of musk and Raisinets, and he always has a kind word for a tourniquet or bedfellow. A hour is not too far to conduct any relationship, but two can make it rather difficult on both of you. 

The facts seem to be these, though: if you did not tell someone about your relationship, then it is quite possible Sam did, which means he may not exactly want this relationship as much as it seems. It's a great cop-out, and we can add to the fact that if he wanted to see you on a regular basis, he probably would.

It can be tricky to get out of a work relationship, and Sam most likely felt trapped. This is through no fault of your own, but the fact that you are still pursuing this even when he has been transferred indicates the momentum in the relationship is entirely on your side.

Let me tell you a story. A man (Joseph Cotten) loved a woman (Ginger Rogers). When he found out that she had to serve three years in prison for murdering her boss when the man tried to drunkenly r her, he was like, "I will wait for you my darling." He was there outside the prison when she got out, and they had three wonderful children together, two of them addressed by their peers and parents as "Monsignor."

Instead of Joseph Cotten, who was also a war hero in this particular instance, you have targeted a mid-level functionary at your organization who has a lot of excuses that he can't be with you. He sounds like Scar from The Lion King, and while Scar's phallus was shaped like a can of tuna, Scar also had some pretty attractive qualities. Every single person in the universe can be the love of your life. Sam doesn't want to be. 

You can probably turn this around. Cut off all contact with Sam and start dating someone named Davidson LeGrue. Problem partially solved.

Hi,

My cousin Jeff is planning to propose to a woman he met on a dating website. (Not Christian Mingle.) A little bit about her:

- Her name is Sandy.
- She loves to surf, sunbathe and she is always cold indoors, no matter the actual temperature.
- She calls bicyclists "flappy nerds" and joggers "pinwheels." Sometimes my mom can't understand what she is saying.

Given everything, she doesn't feel like the best fit for Jeff. If she makes him happy I feel like I shouldn't interfere, but I think marrying this woman would be a tragic misstep. What should I do?

Anna S.

Dear Anna,

The vagaries of American slang are only of practical use to those who are in a long term relationship with John McWhorter or Noam Chomsky. At least she doesn't ride a bicycle, because our experience is that almost everyone who does thinks their poop smells like a delicatessen.

The phrase "if she makes him happy" has lost all meaning at this point. Charles Manson is currently making a woman happy. Happiness is just a brain imbalance — too much serotonin — and is not attributable to one person, unless that one person makes cat sounds while eating. I would, theoretically, find that very amusing.

You need to find out what things are like between Jeff and Sandy when you or your mom is not around. Asssuming she can bring him to completion and is able to tolerate his very basic first name, you may not have a leg to stand on. Everyone is annoying to someone.

Hi,

I went abroad for the fall semester in Paris. My boyfriend Tom and I talked and facetimed every day and I was missing him a lot. When I came back he cried and confessed that he had a emotional relationship with a girl in his dorm, but that they never touched or even kissed. I didn't really know what to say as the context of their thing seems kind of unclear to me.

Since we talked a lot while I was in France, I'm actually kind of amazed he would even have time or need to make a connection like this. On the other hand, since I was not actually there and nothing happened, there seems to be some doubt as to whether or not something dealbreaking occurred. He says that he doesn't want to talk to her anymore and only wants to be with me, and I believe him. I'm tempted to just forgive him considering the situation, but am I being too accommodating?

Raina C.

Dear Raina,

Some people are very good at telling lies, and others are not so good at it. You can work out for yourself which kind of person you would rather be with. What you need to know is that among those who are good at telling lies, many have learned the utility of telling half-truths.

The advantage of the half-truth is that is lessens a guilt compulsion that many people feel when they do something wrong, without exposing the liar to the reprecussions of the actual truth. Again, not all of want to hear the full truth all the time. If Tiger Woods' wife Elin did, she would most likely have run him over with that car, and his half-lie spared her decades in prison.

Now she's dating a great guy who is also rich, so his half-lie was the best thing that ever could have happened to both of them.

I don't know what kind of person Tom is. It's possible that he is telling you the whole truth, in which case you can forgive him and see where things go from there. Connections in college are unavoidable, and it can be very lonely to be by yourself when the person you love is away in the romance capital of the universe. But it might be best to dig deeper. Out of nowhere, shout at him, "DID YOU ORDER THE CODE RED?" and when he looks puzzled, whisper to yourself, "You're goddamned right I did."

Find out if what you are hearing is the whole truth, and get the full story from the other woman if you must. You might save yourself a lot of heartbreak later on.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Wednesday
Jan252017

In Which There May Be Another To Call

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.

Hi,

I make a large effort to make various occasions pleasant for my boyfriend of three years, Elias. He once threw a birthday party for me but besides that he never really goes to too much trouble. On the other hand, if I don't show the requisite excitement for whatever he is celebrated, he becomes sullen and morose. 

I don't personally need to show enthusiasm over the day of my birth, but the situation seems remarkably unbalanced. When I bring up Elias' petulant behavior, he says I'm making a bigger deal of it than it seems. Is there any way to remove myself from this vicious cycle?

Mark B.

Dear Mark,

The concept that every single relationship in the world need to be balanced is a deeply useless myth. Every relationship you will ever have in life will be unbalanced in one direction. Think of a relationship — whether it is with your dry-cleaner, your boss, your dog, your sister — one person is by far getting the better of it. When it tilts too far in one direction, the relationship usually ends.

Perhaps Elias does things for you that you are not mentioning here. Some people in this world require a certain amount of reassurance in a romantic relationship; if they do not provide it back it may mean they are selfish or ungenerous, or it may be you are there because they need to be a person who is more of a giver than a receiver, like whoever is married to Elon Musk at this time.

Being happy for someone else is a good turn, but if you resent having to behave this way, perhaps you are not really happy for Elias.

Hey,

 

In 2014 my mom started dating a guy, Peter. About a year ago he cheated on her with another woman. She walked in on him and his girlfriend having sex in his home, and my mom dumped him afterwards. In the ensuing months, Peter began a relationship with this woman. When it didn't work out, he told my mom he had made a huge mistake and spent the next six months convincing her to get back together with him. He was so persistent about everything, and my Mom does love Peter, so finally she gave in.

When I found out that Peter was cheating on my mom, I instantly hated him. They are a couple now, and I have told my mom that I can't really see or interact with Peter without thinking of this awful incident. Trust is very hard to get back, and I don't know if I could ever see Peter in the same light, even though my mom seems to be able to.

It feels like I was the one betrayed and it's hard to see my mother with Peter again. Is there anything I can do?

Jocelyn R.

Dear Jocelyn,

At times you have to value what a person is instead of focusing on what he isn't. Peter is not a person you can respect, trust, or value in any way at this moment. Time might change your appraisal of him; people have been known to make a mistake for reasons that seem sufficient at the time. Understanding Peter's actions are not within your abilities at this moment, but appreciating that your mother has chosen to be with him is.

This individual must have some other redeeming quality. Maybe he spends time at a local animal shelter, or he services the women of a local shelter. You never know everything that is inside someone until you search the internet.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

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