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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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Ethan Peterson

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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.

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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 (170)


In Which We Celebrate Ourselves Indefinitely

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.


I have been married to my wife Julia for over four years and we have a daughter together. I love her very much and although things have not always been perfect, I believed our marriage was solid. Recently my wife has been confiding various doubts she has about our relationship. Many of her problems relate to where she is in her career — she feels like having a family has hampered her ability to improve her standing in her field. (I work full-time, and she hasn't been able to do so yet, although our daughter will soon be entering school, making this more possible.)

In addition, in her current position, her co-workers are eight to ten years younger than her and she has been interacting with them a lot, leaving me at home.

I want to be supportive of Julia, but at the same time I feel like I am a very giving husband and challenges in life are just part of what's going on. I am there for her, but I don't want to feel like I am catering to a delusion, and it brings me down to hear her complaining about her life. What can I do to get her out of this funk?

Reynald C.


It sounds like your wife needs to meet friends of an appropriate age. Having these younger people around, who have different priorities and goals is going to put her in their mindset. I would do anything you could to get her a better job, or send her back to school. Changing her path in this area sounds key. It is easy to think you are a good husband, and I'm sure you are doing what you can to improve your wife's situation at home.

Still, counseling is a good way to make sure of this. If your wife is not in therapy, she should be. There are inexpensive, or at least more inexpensive options for mental health treatment.

Lastly, we all go through phases in life, and your wife may be in one right now. Try not to overreact to anything (or everything) she does. Operating with a certain amount of space may be the best thing for her.


I have been dating a guy for a few months. He has said that he is very serious about our future together, and I take him at his work. I haven't clicked with someone like this for a long time, if ever.

One thing that does trouble me is that we seem to come from very different religious backgrounds, and he has made a point of saying he expects his children to be raised in his faith. (His family is Jewish.) I am more of an agnostic, but I don't know if I would be comfortable suddenly becoming religious. How should I approach this?

Amy D.

Dear Amy,

There is a large divergence in the Jewish community about exactly what being religious means to an individual. It is impossible to say what this really means: it could mean more casual observance, but the obeyance of certain rituals and traditions. It could mean that he plans to move you to Brooklyn and your family will never see you in shorts again. It is probably best to clarify his exact intentions.

Some people insist on these traditions because they want to please your family. If you are deeply against taking your life in this direction, it is not something to gloss over. There are some wonderful things about religion, but by and large fashion is not one of them.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


In Which We Consider This All New Territory

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.


I recently moved into an apartment with my boyfriend Edward. Neither of us have ever lived with a significant other before, and it has been challenging. I try to keep the lines of communication open, and solve problems in a respectful way.

I realized that Edward had obsessive compulsive disorder in the year we dated before moving in together, but I don't think I fully realized the extent of this illness. When he is a passenger in a car, he holds his hands up in the air to ensure he is not touching any part of the car. I think of myself as being a very clean person, and it is hard to feel like I am not living up to an unimaginable standard. Edward tries to make me feel better about it, but it is hard not to be drawn into his delusion. 

Do you have any ideas on how to deal with this or am I just in a minefield?

Rana G.


The reason it is a good idea to live together with someone is to see how it goes. We can infer from some of the struggles you are having that it is not going well, at all. While it is all very well and good to be accepting of someone's illness, this does not change the challenge on offer. It can not just be you who is dealing with Edward's extreme behavior – he also has to be addressing it in a clinical setting, or this will never become a tolerable situation. 

You also could consider strengthening the relationship outside of the concept of cohabitation. There is no shame in admitting you made a choice you wish to undo.


My girlfriend May recently purchased a pet on the spur of the moment. It is a cocker spaniel puppy she has named Large. I had dogs when I was a kid and I know how to care for them, and how much responsibility they require. Large is May's first pet of any kind and she is kind of clueless about how to train him or take care of him.

I did not want a dog because of the responsibility, and although he is a very cute puppy, I worry that she will grow frustrated by him, as she already has, because she cannot get him to obey her in any way. She has already begun asking me to do things for him and spend time with him. I don't mind an hour or two a week of this, but as I said, this is not my dog.

What should I do?

David S.

Dear David,

When your girlfriend gets a dog, you now have a dog. Congratulations.

If you train Large correctly, he will become obedient, but he will never truly achieve the level of obedience that you yourself will perfect in the weeks to come.

It is better to embrace your fate than stray from it. Large is now the most important thing in your life, perhaps even more important than yourself. Since you say you know how to make him a good dog, make him a good dog.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


In Which We Have A Thoughtless Feeling Inside

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.


For the past year, I have awoken myself early to go for a run before work. Recently, my roommate Anna's doctor suggested that she start running, and she invited herself along on my morning runs. I have tried to make the best of this, but she talks the entire time about her worries and her complaining about the pace gets kind of annoying as well.

Previously this had been a peaceful part of my day; now it has turned into a chore. I can't just tell her how much she ruins this for me, since we have to go on living together, and it is kind of hard to hide what I'm doing considered our close proximity. Is there any way out of this?

Laney F.


I mean if you told her you were doing personal training on the side and would be sending her a bill that would probably get things moving in the right direction. But no, that will not accomplish the prime goal of any useful lie – to directly eliminate the hurt feelings the truth so seems to consistently cause.

Since she seems to obey her own doctor, it may be best you have your doctor chime in on this as well. Maybe your "doctor" can inform you that you need to be running at night. Without you to push her she might give up the mornings and running altogether, at which point you can covertly switch back. This introduces a lot of complications, but could be the most pain-free solution.

A fake boyfriend that Anna hates and who criticizes her is probably your best bet. You can use a friend or hire an actor; she will probably see that this is a couples activity now and gracefully bow out. Problem solved.


I recently broke up with my girlfriend of nine months and I feel like I am going through the twelve stages of grief. It is hard to connect with someone else and the energy required to keep up with dating is not really in me right now.

Still, I feel like meeting someone else would probably help me get over things faster? I want this to be as pain-free a process as possible, and it feels like all I do is think about Maggie or compare other women to her. I have written her and called but she doesn't reply. Do you have any tips for getting through this rough period?

Walter S.

Dear Walter,

Every human person allows their perspective on the world to be altered by different things. Think of what you did – and this need not be related to romance at all – that last altered your point of view on life as a whole. Was it a trip, a fuck, a movie or book? You'll want to repeat whatever that is, in hopes of giving you an identification with someone else's situation that has a chance of putting yours in perspective.

As for the not answering your messages: if someone is ignoring you, that means it either causes them great pain to have to communicate with you, or they simply do not give a shit anymore. Either is really bad news for you. It is not only not healthy to continue sending messages into a void and believing you might get a response, it is a waste of your energies that could be directed on someone who actually values you as a person.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

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