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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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It can’t hurt to ask to work from home

Kathy Mitchell Marcy Sugar Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: I’m 26, an Ivy League college graduate, and recently married to a loving man. We live in a charming home in the suburbs.

The problem is what I do at work – NOTHING. And for which I am extremely well paid, I might add. In five years, I have become so efficient at my job that my week’s responsibilities take two hours. Mostly, I work at the illusion of being busy.

My boss tells me I’m her best employee. But I feel trapped while thinking of all the things I could be doing with my time, like housework, driving my mother to the doctor, etc. My hours outside work are so demanding, I don’t have time for anything mentally stimulating.

Lately I have been crying in my car during commutes, and plagued by old battles with anorexia and drug use. My friends say I’m lucky to have such a “problem,” yet every day I become more and more depressed at my utter pointlessness.

Another job like this is not an option. I’ve been looking around for two years. What should I do before I’m bored to death? – Underworked and Overpaid

Dear Overpaid: You can ask the boss about taking on additional projects or more challenging work, but it would be even better if you could work from home two or three days a week. It can’t hurt to ask, especially if the boss thinks she might lose her “best employee” if she doesn’t permit more flexibility. If the answer is no, however, consider searching for a job that pays less but provides more peace of mind. You can’t put a price tag on your mental health, and with “old battles” coming to the surface again, please make an appointment to discuss this with a therapist.

Dear Annie: “Jean” and I have been happily married nearly 30 years. We have raised two great children and have a very comfortable life. My problem is that my wife is the world’s worst gift buyer.

Birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas mornings are always a struggle for me. Jean buys things that show almost no thought. On my last birthday, she bought me a new portable stereo even though we already have two high-quality stereos and I have another one at my office. Last anniversary, she bought me a new camera exactly like the one I already have.

Any discussions about gift buying end up with her feelings being hurt, and any returns I make are interpreted by her as a personal failure. How do I fix this? – John

Dear John: Jean has no idea what you want, so she gets something she knows you already have and therefore must like. You can leave magazines around with items that interest you circled in red marker, or when your birthday is near, you can casually mention how cool the iPod Nano is. Another suggestion would be to say, “Honey, let’s try something new this year – like a Santa wish list,” and you could each make one. If she still buys you a camera, say thanks sweetly, and put it away until you can quietly return it.

Dear Annie: I am the mother of two wonderful, beautiful children. But as perfect as my children are, I realize other parents don’t want to hear me go on and on about them. I just wish these other parents would realize that I, in turn, do not wish to listen endlessly about their offspring.

Lately, it seems as though I can’t watch a soccer game without someone droning on about their child. All parents think their child is the best and brightest, so please remind them that we are at the games to watch our kids, not theirs. – Proud Mom in Toledo, Ohio

Dear Proud Mom: There’s nothing wrong with watching all the kids and recognizing achievement from whichever child it sprouts. However, you are right that some parents are overbearing when it comes to discussing their own, and we hope the more egregious offenders will take heed.

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