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Hannah Sternberg

Hannah Sternberg's first novel, Queens of All the Earth, is available on Amazon, BN.com, and bookstores near you.
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How Not to Turn Into The Shining This Winter

Thursday, January 30th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

Tonight’s Gardening Music:

It’s just about the time of year I start to get the desperate, painful feeling that I’ll never see a green growing thing again. The Polar Vortex isn’t doing much to help my cabin fever — I used to get through long winters in Vermont by imagining that somewhere in the continental US (a limit that made the place seem more geographically accessible) it was warm. Now I live below the Mason-Dixon line, my postage stamp front yard is covered in snow, and I heard it was freezing in Florida. Get me out of here.

My roommate and fellow contributor Becky Graebner has been tackling her cabin fever by cooking her way through Ina Garten and documenting it here. I thought I’d contribute some fresh herbs to her cause by pursuing one of my favorite hobbies, gardening. I’m fighting the Polar Vortex Blues by getting a head start on my annual kitchen garden. Follow me, step-by-step, in the coming weeks as I provide garden tips and inspiration — and let me know what you’re planning on growing this season!

Day One: No Gear, No Fear

I got my seeds today.

I know that for a lot of people, a big part of the pleasure of a hobby is acquiring all the paraphernalia — just talk to an amateur photographer and you’ll probably spend more time discussing accessories, upgrades, and programs than you will the actual photographs. But my usual approach to new hobbies (or the restart of old ones) is to keep it simple, and let the results guide my acquisition of more gear.

So tonight, I have three glasses of water and three packets of seeds.

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‘The Way God Intended It’

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg
Union Station

I was standing, sleepily, at the counter of a coffeeshop in Union Station, waiting for the barista to remember I’d ordered a drink, when I overheard the woman behind me order hers:

“I’ll have a small latte.”

“What kind of milk?”

“Whole milk.” Pause. Muttered, half to herself: “The way God intended it.”

Maybe I was just cranky — it was my first day heading back to the office after a week out with the flu — but I had to fight the urge to say to her, “Just like God intended that sheep’s wool to be spun, woven, and dyed into your pretty pink plaid coat?”

I had little doubt it was a real wool coat. She looked like someone who would curl her lip at the thought of synthetic fabric touching her skin.

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Bad Advice: Abandon the Hot Mess?

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

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Dear Bad Advice,

My friend is a hot mess. We’ve been friends for a long time, and she wasn’t always like this, so I kept hoping it was just a phase, and waiting for her to emerge from the other side. But this has been going on for over a year now. Basically, she just creates drama. She goes out with a bunch of new friends who gossip about each other all the time, so whenever we hang out she just barrages me with endless stories about who’s which girl’s enemy now, and who cheated with who’s boyfriend, and all this other stuff that’s just stupid. And she’s gotten into this pattern where she’ll see a guy for a couple of weeks, and then pull away and go on and on about how clingy and annoying he is for still pursuing her; or, if the opposite happens, she’ll turn it into this huge drama about how she’s going to get him back. I don’t think she even knows any of these guys enough to care as much as she sounds like she does. She doesn’t want to do any of the stuff we used to do together, like go to the movies, and I think it’s because there isn’t enough gossipping and backstabbing in it. I miss her as a friend, though, and she wasn’t always like this — she used to be sweet and fun to be with and non-dramatic. I don’t know where all this came from and I don’t know how to tell her to try and straighten it all out. I just want her to know I think her decisions are destructive and I’m worried about her as a friend.

- Drama Disinfectant

This is going to sound like bad advice, but if you don’t want drama, you don’t want to be with this friend.

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Bad Advice for Autistic Dating

Thursday, August 8th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

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From The Atlantic this week:

The aspects of autism that can make everyday life challenging—reading social cues, understanding another’s perspectives, making small talk and exchanging niceties—can be seriously magnified when it comes to dating. Though the American Psychiatric Association defines autism as a spectrum disorder—some people do not speak at all and have disabilities that make traditional relationships (let alone romantic ones) largely unfeasible, but there are also many who are on the “high-functioning” end and do have a clear desire for dating and romance. …

Certain characteristics associated with the autism spectrum inherently go against typical dating norms. For example, while a “neuro-typical” person might think a bar is great place for a first date, it could be one of the worst spots for someone on the spectrum. Dorsey Massey, a social worker who helps run dating and social programs for adults with various intellectual disabilities, explained, “If it’s a loud, crowded place, an individual on the spectrum may be uncomfortable or distracted.” Sensory issues may also make certain lights and noises especially unpleasant.

Confession: I’m fascinated with the unique lives and challenges of people with Asperger’s autism spectrum disorders. I’m drawn to articles like this one because one of the characters in the adventure YA novel I’m working on right now shows Aspergian traits. He falls in love with a princess, and must endure all sorts of upsetting and routine-destroying adventures. To try and understand and portray how he would interact with his princess and other adventure companions, I’ve read a lot of articles and books about dating advice for people with Asperger’s Syndrome (which according to the APA doesn’t exist anymore, but that’s a different blog post). I love Penelope Trunk’s ruthlessly honest writing about her life with Asperger’s. And I love how people with Asperger’s have gained new mainstream attention (and widespread acceptance) through portrayals in shows like The Big Bang Theory (Sheldon Cooper) and Community (Abed Nadir).

So, what’s wrong with this article? It doesn’t really delve into the challenges that are very thoroughly specific to relationship-seekers with Asperger’s. In fact, most of the challenges the article describes just sound like the foibles anyone puts up with when dating. I don’t doubt that people with Asperger’s suffer them to a higher degree, and possibly have less wiggle room to adapt their personal outlook to overcome them. I just think that: 1) There could have been a much more in-depth article written about the truly unique dating challenges that only people with Asperger’s face; and 2) an article like this perpetuates the myth that anyone who experiences the challenges it describes, when dating, is “weird” and very different from the rest of the dating masses, and that they’re doing it all wrong.

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Bad Advice for Ghost Sharks

Thursday, August 1st, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

Every week, in addition to my Wednesday Bad Advice column featuring questions from you, the readers, I’ll be doing a Thursday advice column for fictional characters, celebrities, and anyone else who didn’t ask for it. If you have suggestions for characters or celebrities you’d like me to give Bad Advice to, send them to the email address above!

Dear Bad Advice,

I’m hungry. Hungry all the time. Hungry for REVENGE.

Don’t really have a problem with it. Just thought you should know.

- Ghost Shark

This is going to sound like bad advice, but maybe it’s time to do something for you.

Anger is natural. Obsession is unhealthy. When you hunt down your enemies and kill them in ingenious and hilarious ways, you’re serving a memory, a grudge — you’re letting your (after)life be determined by what someone else did to you, not the choices you make for yourself. And what you think of as an epic quest for justice might seem…well, kind of silly to other people.

Ghost Shark, we’ve all been there. We’ve all fantasized about springing out of a bucket and eating our least favorite people alive. Okay, all people are your least favorite people, but I’m sure you have a few whom you especially find tasty dislike. Go ahead and feel your anger — let it run through you. But don’t start making decisions based on your dislike of someone else. That’s letting the humans control you just as much as they did when that one guy killed you the first time.

Ghost Shark, I can’t change you. Actually, I kind of don’t want to because you’re the fodder for some of my favorite memes right now, and without you I might start going to the weird part of reddit again to find something as funny. But just, you know, think about you for a second. Your options are limitless — do you really want to spend your sharky afterlife confined to buckets and slip-n-slides just for the sake of a cheap kill? Wouldn’t you prefer the freedom of the open sea? They sky’s the limit (when it’s raining you have some leeway on that, too). Go on a rampage of self-actualization.

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Bad Advice: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Crisis

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

Source: Shutterstock

Dear Bad Advice,

I don’t know what to say. Nothing specifically is going wrong in my life, but I just don’t feel like it is where I want it to be. I’m only in my twenties, so I know I’m just getting started, but I can’t shake the feeling that I should be doing better. I have an okay job, a good group of friends, and an alright place, but I can’t stop thinking about the things I want: an even better job, a nicer apartment all to myself, more glamorous experiences. I feel like I’m stuck in spin cycle and I’m not getting any closer to the things I want, though. I still get help from my parents, and my job’s going nowhere and I’m not even sure if that’s what I want to do anymore, or what else I could do. Is there any way out?

-Quarter Life Crisis

I get this kind of question a lot from my friends. I’m no stranger to the quarter-life crisis; after all, while trying to think of the best way to write this column, I was looking at Game of Thrones embroidery and wondering if I was ever going to be as productive as I wish or as incredibly talented and skilled as the woman who created those costumes. Obviously I’d be a lot more productive if I weren’t spending hours on Buzzfeed whenever I got exhausted or discouraged, but that’s the sneaky part of the quarter-life crisis: I actually did write this column, and I will wake up tomorrow and keep doing things to pursue my goals (however long that might take) despite all my supposed time-wasting, but I won’t feel accomplished. Because life isn’t school, and those of us who were lucky enough to stay in school full-time until the age of 21 or 22 or even later have spent our entire conscious lives seeing goals as things that can be accomplished in a semester, and we get frustrated with anything with a longer lead time. We think that you have to crunch to get anything done, like studying for an exam; but life doesn’t have a lot of exams, and a lot of it is spent simply working slowly but steadily toward something that doesn’t have a handy pre-affixed date, like graduation.

This is going to sound like bad advice, but your quarter-life crisis isn’t a crisis. It’s just life.

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Bad Advice for the Royal Baby

Thursday, July 25th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

Every week, in addition to my Wednesday Bad Advice column featuring questions from you, the readers, I’ll be doing a Thursday advice column for fictional characters, celebrities, and anyone else who didn’t ask for it. If you have suggestions for characters or celebrities you’d like me to give Bad Advice to, send them to the email address above!

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Dear Bad Advice,

I’ve only just entered this world and I’m already a celebrity. There’s not much I can do about it because it’s in my blood. How should I deal with the attention?

- Royal Growing Pains

This is going to sound like bad advice, but let your freak flag fly.

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Bad Advice: It’s Okay If Your Friends Date Losers

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

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Dear Bad Advice,

This is more of a general question than a specific one. I seem to have a bunch of female friends who only date losers. They’re nice, normal, non-dramatic girls themselves who deserve a lot better, but they seem to get into these relationships, over and over, with guys who are just lazy, inconsiderate, commitment-phobic, or lacking social skill. They’re not abusive guys; they’re just not as good as I know my friends could get, or deserve. I don’t know why my female friends keep going out with them, and keep putting up with those guys long after it should be obvious they’re losers. I’ve tried telling them they should do better for themselves, but they get angry or dismissive or they just ignore my advice. It doesn’t do anything to dispel the idea that “good guys always finish last.” How do I get them to realize they could do so much better?

- Protective Friend

This is going to sound like bad advice, but just let your friends date losers.

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Bad Advice for Rolling Stone

Thursday, July 18th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg
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Jim Morrison

Why the heck is Rolling Stone writing a cover story about Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? Short answer: to make money.

On its face it’s a self-defeating tactic, since their controversial cover, portraying Tsarvaev as a glamorous figure in a shot compared by some to famous pictures of Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison, has managed to get the issue boycotted by CVS, Walgreens, and several other major retailers. Somehow I think Rolling Stone will muddle through, though. One of the benefits of doing something massively controversial is that a lot of people will pay attention to you, write about you, and link back to you. (Like this post.)

So instead of talking about the cover story, which is due to get ample attention on its own, I wanted to look at Rolling Stone‘s defense of it:

The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone‘s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.

This is going to sound like bad advice, but Rolling Stone: no one reads you for “serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.” They read you because they like rock and roll, and they like being cool.

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Bad Advice: Slaying Facebook Trolls

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

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Dear Bad Advice,

Recently I cleared out my Facebook friends list. It was getting out of control and I wasn’t seeing updates from people I cared about, because my newsfeed was so clogged up with people I haven’t seen in years and don’t really care about. The weird thing is, even though Facebook doesn’t notify you when you’ve been deleted by someone (at least, as far as I’m aware) a surprising number of the people I’d removed from my friends list noticed, and sent me angry or surprised messages asking me why I’d removed them! I barely interact with these people on FB or away from it, and I have no idea how they managed to notice so quickly, or why they seem to care so much. Any advice on how to respond to them?

- Tired of Facebook Fiends

This is going to sound like bad advice, but sometimes you just have to give someone the cold shoulder.

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Bad Advice for Hobbitses

Thursday, July 11th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

Every week, in addition to my Wednesday Bad Advice column featuring questions from you, the readers, I’ll be doing a Thursday advice column for fictional characters, celebrities, and anyone else who didn’t ask for it. If you have suggestions for characters or celebrities you’d like me to give Bad Advice to, send them to the email address above!

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Dear Bad Advice,

I just joined a venture with an industrious, but quirky, group of people I barely know. They’re all from a very different culture than mine, much more confrontational and crude. On top of that, they even look a little different from me, so I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. A lot of them don’t like me, even though they asked me to join them for my special skills, and all of them push me around and make fun of me a lot. I’m sick of it and I wish I could just go home and be comfortable again. But a part of me also longs to complete this adventure and prove myself. I just don’t know if I can do it. Help!

- Lagging Baggins

This is going to sound like bad advice, but stop trying to fit in.

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Bad Advice: Stop Trying To Be Friends with People

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

Sad-man-in-Cubicle

Dear Bad Advice,

I have a coworker that I can tell is not doing well. Her work performance is fine, and I never have anything to complain about there. But I can tell she must be going through a rough patch in her life. She looks haggard and doesn’t seem to put as much care into her hair and dress as she used to. She doesn’t look happy and she’s gone frequently (for scheduled absences). I heard a rumor she might be seriously ill with something chronic. She’s single and lives alone, far away from the rest of her family. I get sad thinking she doesn’t have anyone to take care of her. But I don’t know how to approach her to offer help. I want her to know I’m here to listen, too, but I don’t know how to tell her that. We’ve worked together for years and never been close. What should I do?

- Concerned in the Cubicle

This is going to sound like bad advice, but don’t try too hard to be nice to this person.

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Bad Advice for Aspiring Superheroes

Friday, July 5th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

Every week, in addition to my Wednesday Bad Advice column featuring questions from you, the readers, I’ll be doing a Thursday advice column for fictional characters, celebrities, and anyone else who didn’t ask for it. If you have suggestions for characters or celebrities you’d like me to give Bad Advice to, send them to the email address above!

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Dear Bad Advice,

My brother gets all the glory and I’m done. I want to be a hero too. I have the skills, I just need to get out there and make a difference. But my brother always seems to beat me to the punch, and it doesn’t help that our dad favors him. People look at our family and think we live in Valhalla, but it’s not all perfect and I think I need to make a break with the whole rotten crew if I’m ever going to shine. Will my big chance ever come, or should I go ahead and create a little chaos to make my own opportunities?

- Loki Self Esteem

This is going to sound like bad advice, but stop trying to be a hero.

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Bad Advice: Stop Having So Many Opinions

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

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Dear Bad Advice,

I’m very passionate about politics. I read about it extensively every day, from both sides, and I watch a ton of news and analysis shows. It’s more than an interest — I think it’s important for everyone to be involved and to educate themselves on how our country is being run, and take action. But my friends feel differently. They keep telling me to find something else to talk about. How do I make them understand that they should be interested in politics, because it concerns them too?

- Concerned Politico

This is going to sound like bad advice, but listen to your friends and shut the hell up every once in a while.

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Bad Advice: Slack Off More

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

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Today I answer a question from myself. It might also explain, in part, why my column is late this week.

Dear Bad Advice,

I’m addicted to foodgawker. I can’t get any work done. Now that it has infinite scrolling I can’t even pretend I’ll stop after the first page. How will I ever finish another column ever again?

- Me.

This is going to sound like bad advice, but I should probably spend a little less time working.

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Bad Advice for Zombie Apocalypse Survivors

Friday, June 21st, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

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This is the End and After Earth already came out this summer and now World War Z joins them this weekend. So it’s a good time to put on your tin-foil hat and hunker down in the bunker with some popcorn. It also reminds me of how much apocalypse movies can also teach us about life before death. Here are some things that I’ve learned from previous zombie movies that I hope to impart on the next wave of straggling survivors, whichever apocalypse came for them this summer.

Shaun of the Dead: This is going to sound like bad advice, but it’s never a bad time to work out your friendship issues.

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Bad Advice: Stop Chasing Your Dreams

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

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Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column every Wednesday!

Dear Bad Advice,

For about as long as I remember, being a graphic designer or artist of some kind has been my dream. I’ve always been really creative, and I even took a few classes in college, but you know how you get on a career track and you kinda get swept past the thing you want to do and into the thing that pays your bills.

I have an okay job and lots of fun things to do all the time, but I have to admit that sometimes I see other people I knew from art classes going on and making their art into a career and I get jealous. I never really gave it a shot, and now I feel like my chance has passed. I want to get into art again, but I need more classes in order to get a real job doing design, and I don’t have any time for classes. I need more software too, and a more powerful computer and a bunch of other accessories too, and that all adds up. I wish I could hit pause on my life (and my bills!) for just a little while to have the money and time to set myself up to follow this dream, but it just doesn’t seem possible and that makes me really sad. Is there any hope?

- Despairing Designer

This is going to sound like bad advice, but quit chasing your dream.

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Bad Advice for 5 Game of Thrones Characters

Thursday, June 13th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

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Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column every Wednesday!

George R. R. Martin is often accused of nihilism for his brutal treatment of his characters, without any discernible purpose or “moral” to the story. I say: not every author puts a moral in his story, but that doesn’t have to stop a thoughtful reader from finding one anyway. Now that season three of Game of Thrones is over and we have our Sunday nights back, it’ll probably take all summer just to recover from the trauma of this season and prepare for the next. Here’s my half-silly, half-serious attempt to put the “sense” in “senseless graphic violence.”

Sansa Stark: This is going to sound like bad advice, but it’s time to do something stupid.

Sansa is paralyzed by doing what’s right: sitting still and obedient in King’s Landing and playing the good little hostage. But her good behavior isn’t rewarded — in fact, it’s punished. Sometimes, despite all the morality tales we read as kids about how good behavior always leads to peace and happiness, life puts you in a situation where you’ve done all the right things and still find yourself trapped in an unbearable situation. In cases like those, it’s time to think the unthinkable — it’s time to make the seemingly “incorrect” decision. For Sansa, that would be running away. From the outside, show fans are cheering for her to do it — but from her vantage point, it’s the unconventional and wrong thing to do. My impression has always been that she shies away from it not only because it’s dangerous, but because it’s frowned upon. So when you feel like a hostage to your own circumstances, take a step back and ask yourself: what is my complete docket of options? Are there any obvious ones I’m ignoring because they come with some risk or they might provoke someone’s disapproval? Don’t be a Sansa. There are no castle guards holding you back. Take control of your own life.

Gendry: This is actually going to sound like great advice, but don’t accept oral sex from strangers.

Seriously. Leeches.

THE LESSON IS OBVIOUS HERE, PEOPLE.

Often people feel that way after meaningless sex.

Often people feel that way after meaningless sex.

Tyrion Lannister: This is going to sound like bad advice, but it’s time to put your parent(s) in their place.

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Does Gore Make Game of Thrones More ‘Real’?

Saturday, June 8th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

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After last week’s Game of Thrones episode with its infamous Red Wedding scene, watchers of the show wait on the edge of their seats to find out what could possibly happen next and readers are wondering where in the heart-pounding series of events in A Storm of Swordsthe show creators will decide to end this season.

In an Entertainment Weekly interview, author George R. R. Martin replied to questions about how he coped with writing such a bloody, tragic scene, and how he dealt with the initial reader reaction:

People read books for different reasons. I respect that. Some read for comfort. And some of my former readers have said their life is hard, their mother is sick, their dog died, and they read fiction to escape. They don’t want to get hit in the mouth with something horrible. And you read that certain kind of fiction where the guy will always get the girl and the good guys win and it reaffirms to you that life is fair. We all want that at times. There’s a certain vicarious release to that. So I’m not dismissive of people who want that. But that’s not the kind of fiction I write, in most cases. It’s certainly not what Ice and Fire is. It tries to be more realistic about what life is. It has joy, but it also had pain and fear. I think the best fiction captures life in all its light and darkness.

First of all, one of the things I admire about Martin in this interview is how nonjudgmental he is of escapist fiction. He’s not saying that readers who want a soothing story are wrong or stupid or lazy readers; he’s just saying they’re not the readers for his books.

In that quote, Martin is implying that his series isn’t really escapism, at least not the way he defines it. But Game of Thrones is escapism, it’s just escapism for people who enjoy escaping into a world of heart-pounding drama and pornographic levels of gore. Not all forms of escapism are about comfortable sedation in a pain-free world. But just adding more gore and senseless tragedy doesn’t necessarily make a story more realistic.

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4 Childhood Activities You Should Never Give Up

Thursday, June 6th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

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I still treasure the memory of the day when my friends and I were walking home through the park at the end of a long afternoon of educational play (wandering museums, visiting landmarks) and one of them started a game of Red Rover and we all ditched our bags to join in.

I was twenty-three at the time.

Growing up isn’t just inevitable — it is a good thing. Growing up, when done properly, hopefully results in being wiser, less selfish, and potentially taller, which is helpful for reaching things. But while there is a time for setting aside your childish things, there are a few childhood activities that grown-ups could stand to gain a lot from reintroducing into their lives.

1. Random, Unannounced Racing

Remember when you were all walking along to some destination and one person broke out into a sprint, the universal signal for everyone else to start running to catch or overtake him? Have you stopped doing that because you’ll ruin your shoes, or you’re just plain scared of appearing undignified? Whenever you’re scared to do something fun, ask yourself: whom exactly are you trying to impress?

When you grow up, something weird happens to your view of physical activity: instead of being a possibility in all situations, exercise becomes something you confine to the gym or running club or organized sports, and when you’re not at one of those, you’re supposed to sedately float along through your work and social life. At your next gathering, challenge yourself: what could you do with all your friends besides just sit or stand around?

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Get Used to Your Family Being Crazy

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column every Wednesday!

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This week, one of my regular commenters asks for advice on his (or her) self-destructive sister. The situation is below:

Dear Bad Advice,

Please allow me to complain about my constantly-complaining sister!

Actually, I try not to buy into her mindset. The constant complainer “wins,” if you continually allow them to get under your skin.

Not only does my sister complain a lot, but she has made some very bad choices in her life: cheating on a good husband, refusing to reconcile with him, not doing anything about finding a decent job, constantly antagonizing friends and family, etc., etc. And despite all of her very bad choices, she always finds someone else to blame for her self-inflicted misery. She even blames our kind, responsible, loving parents, who did not spoil us, but who, according to her bizarre thinking, supposedly ruined her life by not preparing her for every possible situation which might arise due to her own mistakes. And if you get into a conversation with her, she will be sure to let you know this.

People like my sister seem to wallow in their own misery, and have a “grass-is-greener” attitude about other people’s lives, which is, of course, completely unrealistic. And, there are times when I just need to tell my sister what’s what, even though that always creates a firestorm, and there are other times when I need to break off contact for at least a while. My sister needs to take responsibility for herself, and until that happens, she will continue to inflict misery on herself and others.

- Not Into Sister’s Act

This is going to sound like bad advice, but don’t treat your sister like she’s crazy for going through some ups and downs.

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Advice for Grads: Stop Working So Darn Hard

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

college-graduate

Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column!

This week, I’d like to offer some Bad Advice to recent college graduates. Here are some pointers, practical and spiritual, on how to cope with adult life. Share them with a grad you know and it might actually get him or her to stop bugging you with questions about how to be a grown-up.

Personal Life: This may sound like bad advice, but pay your friends for rides, and go to a bar by yourself every once in a while.

1) Whenever a friend drives you somewhere (especially if you asked them as a favor), offer them gas money. Okay, this is less of an “adult life” thing, and more something you should have learned since you were old enough for you and your friends to drive, but it becomes more important as your friends move off their parents’ bankrolls and start getting those fun student-loan notifications in the mail.

2) Friendship is a lot harder when class schedules and a multitude of school-run clubs don’t bring you together on a regular basis, and you no longer live in a building full of people your age who freely socialize between rooms or suites. So, put the work in on the friendships you want to keep: schedule lunch meet-ups or happy hours, ask your friends about their days (because you are no longer spending most of it playing Rock Band or going to class together — he might have done something you weren’t there to witness!), and then honor your commitments.

3) If you feel all alone in a new city and there aren’t many people your age at your office to befriend, join a Meetup group, take up a hobby, go to a networking event, and, in the meantime, while you build up your group of friends, don’t be afraid to do stuff alone. Don’t sit in your apartment by yourself every night because you’re still getting to know folks. Some people are so scared of being seen in public without a companion that they’d rather stay inside all the time and get to know no one at all. Don’t be one of those sad people.

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3 TV Shows You’ll Love Not Watching

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

I am hopelessly addicted to TV show recaps. I’ll read them for shows I’ve never watched and have no intention of watching. I read them to keep up with what’s moving in pop culture, and for the curiosity of seeing how many ways a single hour of television can be interpreted — humorously, solemnly as a cultural commentary, or passionately by people who care about the characters as deeply as if they were real people.

It speaks to the power of these programs that viewers become so immersed they start to feel as though they know the characters better than the director, the writers, or even the actors. Writing up a weekly criticism of a bad show is a boring waste of time. The fact that a show is painstakingly critiqued every week is, ironically enough, proof that it must be pretty good; or at least, significant in some way (good or bad).

These are my favorite shows not to watch. Okay, I cheated — I do watch some of them, but I tend to read the recaps before I get around to seeing the latest episodes.

3. Mad Men

I stopped watching Mad Men after marathoning the third season left me in a blue funk for two weeks. But the recaps didn’t end there. The virtue of Mad Men recaps is getting all the drama and cultural commentary with less than half the depression. Since it sounds like the show is starting up the long ramp toward jumping the shark, I don’t regret tuning out — but I do enjoy checking in, if simply to answer the question, “How much more miserable can they all get?”

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Take a Whine Appreciation Class

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg
Sound familiar?

Sound familiar?

Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column every Wednesday!

Dear Bad Advice,

My friend is absolutely driving me up the wall! She complains about everything. I know not a lot of things are going great for her in her life right now, but I wish she had a better attitude. If I tell her to have a better attitude when she’s complaining about things, she gets mad and storms off. How do I handle her? She’s fun and a great friend most of the time, but her complaining is getting on my last nerve.

- Not a whine appreciator

This is going to sound like bad advice, but quit complaining about your complaining friend.

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