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Author Topic: Roommate Troubles
Evie3217
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My roommate is my best friend from my freshman year (last year). We are complete opposites. I love to ruminate over things and talk about my feelings, while she likes to ignore problems. I like to be social and go out with my friends, while she would rather watching TV shows season by season in her bed.

I can't stand her anymore.

She doesn't take care of herself at all. She's not going to classes, she's sleeping all day one day and staying up all night the next. She works at 5 AM on Mondays and Friday, and yet on night like tonight, when she should be resting up for work the next day, she's watching the second season of House in her bed. She even complained to me earlier tonight that she was exhausted, but when I asked her at 2 AM tonight whether she was going to sleep, she said, "What's the point?"

I understand that it's her life and she can do what she wants, but it pains me to see her like this. I care about her a lot, yet she pushes me away whenever I try to suggest that she get some rest or go to class. It seems that she knows what she's doing isn't healthy, but isn't willing to do anything about it. She's seeing a therapist, but has told me that she lies to her about what's really going on.

I'm a pushy person by nature, but I've tried to give her her space. But when she has her light on at all hours of the night, I have difficulty sleeping. I like to sleep knowing that everyone is safe and sound and getting sleep. I also like to sleep with no light in my room. I've tried those eye masks, but they only help marginally.

I don't know what to do anymore. I'm so frustrated with her. I tried talking to her tonight, but she just seemed to blow me off. I even made her pinkie swear (I know, I'm 5) that she would get some sleep every night this week. She seems to not care that I care a lot about her and her health. She's not going to classes and, from what I've heard, is sleeping through the classes that she is going to. I don't know how to help her, or if I even should.

I just can't stand dealing with her anymore. I have a hard enough time taking care of myself without having to worry about her as well. I'm the motherly type, so I feel the need to take care of those around me. But she just doesn't want to help herself or do anything to change her situation. At this rate, she's likely to lose her scholarship. And, even more likely, she's likely to lose a roommate. If something doesn't happen soon, I won't be able to deal with another semester of this.

Sorry to vent, but I trust you guys and you almost always have good ideas. What do you think I should do/not do?

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King of Men
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You should back the hell out of your roomate's life and give her some freakin' space. The amount of attempted micromanagement you describe would cause anyone to stay up all night in sheer rebellion. Get a life of your own, will ya? Sheesh.
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Altáriël of Dorthonion
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
You should back the hell out of your roomate's life and give her some freakin' space. The amount of attempted micromanagement you describe would cause anyone to stay up all night in sheer rebellion. Get a life of your own, will ya? Sheesh.

But they're best friends, so you should be considerate of that. However, KoM does have a point.

Look, the whole point of being roommates with other people is because it's a learning experience. If you genuinely care about her, just turn off her tv and tell her straight up about what you think. Whether she takes your advice or not, that is no longer your problem. She is an adult and she needs to take responsibility over her life and what happens in it.

As much as it's in your nature to be motherly, you are not her mom.

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Shigosei
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She could be depressed. That sounds a bit like me when I'm depressed.
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Evie3217
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I understand that I should give her space, but she's my best friend and I care about her. I would expect her to do the same thing for me.

Shigosei: it sounds like that to me too.

The problem is that it's affecting me as well. I can't sleep and I can't entertain in my room because she's always sleeping. I know that sounds selfish, but I like to have friends over, and I can't do that when she's in our room 24/7.

I understand what you mean about being less motherly, but I promise you, I have been giving her space most of the time. I barely spend any time in my room anymore, in order to give her space. The things I describe in my earlier post were done tonight, and no other night. I just know that she bottles things up and tries to ignore them until it's too late. And, personally, I would rather be motherly and make sure she gets to class than let her drop out of school because she lost her scholarship.

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quidscribis
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
You should back the hell out of your roomate's life and give her some freakin' space. The amount of attempted micromanagement you describe would cause anyone to stay up all night in sheer rebellion. Get a life of your own, will ya? Sheesh.

KoM, you really need to get a handle on talking to people with some amount of, oh, manners.

This is rude.

If you can't be helpful, don't post.

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Shigosei
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If she's severely depressed, she may not be able to get help on her own. If you're willing to spend some time and energy intervening, you might suggest she talk to a counselor--or at least see a doctor about the sleeping issue. It could be some other nasty underlying medical problem. If she's too tired to get around to doing that for herself, you could consider offering to make the appointments for her or even go with her if she wants some support.
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Storm Saxon
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quote:

Sorry to vent, but I trust you guys and you almost always have good ideas. What do you think I should do/not do?

Sometimes there's nothing you can really do but complain every now and then, and you just have to accept that and make your peace with it. Being another mothering type person, I feel your pain.
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Will B
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Oh, yeah, she's either in depression or headed there fast. The conventional answer is to talk to a counselor (her, not you). I don't know if they help much, but the talking probably does.

Bless you for caring about her.

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Raia
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I've had a bad history with roommates, so I understand your frustration... it's all very well for people to tell you to back off and give her space, but sometimes her lack of concern for herself and her surroundings breaks into YOUR personal space, as well. A messy roommate who doesn't care about anything sanitary is not good for anyone's health, mental, medical or otherwise.

It's one thing, also, to try and change her personal habits (not sleeping, skipping class, etc) -- I agree that there is little you can do about those (although some friendly confidante-esque help wouldn't be entirely out of order either), but when she keeps her light on, and so forth, preventing YOU from a good night's sleep, then it suddenly becomes your problem. I agree with Will B, that a counselor for her would be a good idea, but I also realize that it will probably take a lot to get her to actually see one. All I can say is, do your best to convince her. :/ Maybe even talk to a counselor yourself and express concern for your roommate... though that could very well anger her and give rise to hostile feelings between you.

I am also the mothering type, and like I said, I've had bad history with roommates, so I really wish I could give more helpful advice... but really, that's about all I've got right now. I DO offer you a lot of sympathy, though! *hugs* Let us know what happens, ok?

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Kwea
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I would make a list of things to discuss with her, but only issues as they affect YOU. Talk about your trouble sleeping because of her light, and how you need to study...things like that.

That way you won't come across controlling, but can talk to her about her problems, and how they affect more than just herself.


If she brings up other stuff, fine. But just talk about how you are worried for her, and how you will be there to listen....


But tell her that you may not be her roommate next semester if she can't stop her problems from affecting you.

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El JT de Spang
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I'm not sure I understand the situation. You two still live in the dorms? If not, why are you sharing a room?
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Libbie
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Maybe it would be best for both of you if one of you moved out and you guys found other roommates.
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Raia
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Libbie, that's not so easy... schools frown on that, generally. Of course, if absolutely necessary, they will accomodate you, but you'd better have a darn good reason. So far, these things would not qualify by university standards, unfortunately. :/
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katharina
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Evie, is it at all possible for you to get your own room?

I agree that it sounds like she is depressed. If you can encourage her to talk to the school counselor, that could help.

I was depressed for a couple years a few years ago, and I am no longer friends with the girl I was roommates with. I'm sure I was a trying roommate, although we saw little of each other so it couldn't have been that bad. Anyway, I'm fine now and I became so shortly after, but I never want to talk to her again. I'm not still mad, but when I was clearly going through something she did not act like a friend. I'm not interested in spening time or energy on someone like that.

Not that you're doing that. However, if you value the friendship at all, I would 1) get another living situation, and 2) help her find help and do not complain about her to mutual friends.

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Evie3217
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I've thought about getting another room, but I feel like that would hurt our friendship even more. She doesn't have too many friends, and if I left, I would feel incredibly guilty. Plus, I don't know who I would room with either. I want to stay on my floor, as I have a lot of good friends here, but I don't know if I could get another room.

She is talking to a counselor at school, but I don't think she's taking it entirely seriously.

She's also just become a bad friend in general. She's completely ignored me the times I've cried in our room when she's there and doesn't pause the movie she's watching when I need to talk about a problem. It seems that she wants to get rid of me if anything is bothering me and just go back to her solitary confinement.

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katharina
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She probably is being a bad friend. I'm not surprised.

**DISCLAIMER - the following is my theory only***

I noticed from both when I was depressed and when I have had depressed friends that depressed people can seem very self-centered. I know that I was, and I have certainly seen other people act like it. I suspect it is because they are being self-centered - it takes all their energy to keep going and not fall apart, and they have to focus on themselves to make that happen. It isn't necessarily a character flaw - it's a state of being that accompanies the depression. When the depression lifts, the good friends will return to being the good friends they truly are. The truly selfish will stay that way.

If your friend has been a good friend in the past before the recent slump, then I'll bet she's still that good friend who is in survival mode, which means she's not there for you. I'm sorry.

You don't have to room with her in order to be her friend. It's easier that way - no work required, you just open your mouth to talk to each other - but you can still do it if you live somewhere else. Maybe if you did live somewhere else and was having a better experience you'd be more free to help her with what she's going through.

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Evie3217
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I agree with you that depressed people seem more self-centered. However, she's never been a great friend, for many reasons. I think I just never really realized it until I had to live with her. Maybe I'm just being insensitive, but I feel like she doesn't put any effort into any friendships she has. I would explain more, but I feel that I would just be complaining and that's insensitive of me.

Maybe leaving is the right idea, but I don't know if I can do that. I'd be scared of losing a friend, no matter how irrational that may be.

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Synesthesia
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Sopranos comes to mind.
Could you have a counselor or professor call her and try to talk to her about her problem?
Otherwise, she may have to deal with things on her own and i know from experience that most people with these sort of problems do not seek out help unless forced to.

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Stone_Wolf_
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I had a similar situation. My friend and roommate was deeply depressed and couldn't shake out of it. Unfortunately, he also couldn't keep a job, and couldn't get himself moving to get a new one.

Even though I hurt for him, and loved him like a brother, I had to kick him out because he was too much of an emotional and financial draw on me.

Evie, the only thing you control in this life is your choices. You can not make your friend go to class, or keep a good schedule or be a good friend, or help them. They have to choose those things. You can only help them if they choose to accept your help.

As much as it hurts to lose a friend, you have to choose the people in your life who add joy and goodness and not those who are not there for you, and drag you down. It's a hard choice, but you have to find people who's presence in your life offers mutual benefit. You both get something, you both share happiness and joy.

As sad as it is to have a friend who needs help and is hurting, until you understand and believe that they have to want to get better before they can get better you will only make things worse for her and yourself.

I am truly sorry you are in this position as it is painful and difficult.

P.S. To King of Men, your response was very rude and not helpful. Try and have a heart will ya?

[ November 27, 2006, 01:30 PM: Message edited by: Stone_Wolf_ ]

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TheGrimace
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Evie,
I had a similar situation my sophomore year. A good friend from freshman year and I decided to room together in the dorms sophomore year (technically I was only there first semester, and then traded out with my best friend when I went on co-op 2nd semester). We were in a few of the same classes and got along really well prior to this.

Thankfully we were more compatable in general it seems (i.e. in general we got along fine and didn't tend to do much to bother each other) however, due to some family matters and the like he slipped pretty heavily into depression that year.

Similar issues with never getting much sleep, often staying up through his breakfast shifts working in the cafeteria, sleeping through classes and at odd hours. Barely making any effort in classes, and largely only going to classes because I dragged him to most of them. Playing Counterstrike to extreme excess etc.

Looking back on it all I didn't realize how much of an emotional slump he was in at the time, but I did my best to get him to come to classes that we had together, and to a couple study groups we had together. Luckily I could always use the excuse "if I have to go to this so do you."

Unfortunately during my semester he was put on academic probation and then flunked out the next semester under similar treatment by my best friend. Now this can be seen as a bad result, but for this individual I think it was the right result. As a result of failing out he had to thrust himself into the workforce early on and came to realize the mistakes he had made, and start thinking more soberly about life. since then he's just about to graduate from a different school with a buisness degree rather than engineering, and has been doing quite well with his current job and learning a lot of good skills from it.

So my suggestion, be there as much as you can for your roomate. Offer to listen to her worries/concerns. yell at her (chidingly) to go to class and do her work. Try to be frank about what might happen if she doesn't shape up, but don't nag. And then just let it be.

Constantly nagging that she needs to get sleep isn't very productive because that's a no-brainer. She knows when she doesn't get sleep, and what it does to her. Do keep nagging her (mildly) to go to class. Do tell her when her habits are making it hard for you to sleep and the like.

Basically, be there for her as much as you can, and be frank about your concerns regarding her health, academic future and your feelings. Realize though that she is an adult that has to make her own decisions and learn from them, so at a certain point you have to let her make her own mistakes.

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Raia
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quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:
Sopranos comes to mind.

I resent that. [Razz]
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Raia:
quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:
Sopranos comes to mind.

I resent that. [Razz]
Are you a soprano? If she had made jab at altos or baritones would you feel better?

[Wink]

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Raia
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I am a soprano.

And, of course! [Wink]

(Just kidding)

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pH
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My roommate was somewhat similar, but we had a two-bedroom apartment. She would literally lie in bed all day with her door closed watching tv. That was all she ever did.

Honestly, I think if talking doesn't help (which apparently it doesn't if she won't even pause the movie she's watching), leaving is the best thing to do. Can you change rooms when the semester ends or something? I understand not wanting to lose a friend...but if she doesn't even really talk to you, she's not much of a friend.

-pH

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Samarkand
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I've always thought that the hardest thing about living in a room with someone else is the sleeping thing. My freshman year I had an 8 AM class and a roommate who inisted on typing her papers until 2 AM. I told her that I could not sleep while typing was going on, and she said that she could. I was like, nifty, newsflash, not all people are the same. Anyway, I offered her the use of my laptop so she could work outside our room, suggested the 24 hour computer lab which was like two minutes away, etc. I finally scheduled a meeting with the two of us and our RA, because she clearly wasn't listening. That fixed it.

So. If your roommate is doing things which keep you awake in your room on weeknights past the time you would need to go to sleep in order to get eight hours of sleep, that's not ok in my book. Eg., if you have to be up at 8AM she should take her second season of House elsewhere after midnight. I don't care whether she's depressed or not, that's common courtesy.

I would approach her and set a time every night at which the lights go out and noise stops. I think it would be best is this was the same time every night, because it will be easier to remember plus structure is GREAT for depressed people. I would also set blocks of time when you WILL be using your room to have others over and she needs to not be napping. Also give her times when she can use the room as she pleases, for napping or whatever. Write your class and work schedules down together, and have some unstructured time and some "me" time. And then USE those times. Come in a bit early and say, "Hey, sorry to wake you, but I wanted to remind you that some people are coming over to watch a movie. You can join us if you'd like."

I know that when I'm depressed, it's really not helpful for people to let me do whatever I want. I need those around me to set boundaries and expectations, as low as they may be. It helps be get un-depressed.

Lights go off at a certain time. She can always leave the room if she's not ready to sleep.

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Synesthesia
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by Raia:
quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:
Sopranos comes to mind.

I resent that. [Razz]
Are you a soprano? If she had made jab at altos or baritones would you feel better?

[Wink]

That's what happened in an episode of the Sopranos. Meadow had a depressed roommate who drank a lot and contributed to her losing her hot boyfriend who was really smart and really hot.
*on a Sopranos kick*

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Stone_Wolf_
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Good advice Samarkand.
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Soundstream
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Evie, your roommate is severely depressed. I know that you feel for her, but the problem is hers, not yours. And chances are, she really does not care one whit about how she is affecting you.

Either you need to move out, or she does. You're not in college to babysit her, you're in college to get an education. Four years from now you will never see her again -- you will be out looking for a job. And job interviews are tough these days. Companies look for high GPAs for entry-level positions, and you can't risk doing poorly in your courses just because she's depressed. You need your sleep and study time just like everybody else.

This sounds harsh, but it is reality. People don't get hired because they're nice, they get hired because they're qualified. With the cost of college being so unbelievably high these days, you need to put yourself first. And if your parents are paying your way, you definitely need to notify them about the situation.

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Evie3217
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First of all, don't worry about KOM's comments. I don't really take those comments of his seriously.

I can't move out before the end of the semester. Plus, I missed the deadline to change rooms for next semester. The only thing I can do is to wait until the beginning of next semester and then figure something out. Maybe by then things will be better, but I know I go through periods of accepting the fact that she's not taking care of herself, and periods of hating everything she does because it interferes with my work.

I don't know how to help her anymore. She doesn't listen to me at all and blocks out everything I say. I've tried talking to her about things that bother me about her, and all she does is give me a blank stare. Maybe leaving is the only way to get through to her, but frankly, I'm scared to leave. I don't have any other roommate prospects and I'd rather live with the devil I know than the devil I don't.

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Samarkand
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Can you approach your RA? Or the counselor she's seeing?
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Evie3217
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Possibly. I'll look into it. My RA is really cool, so hopefully she'll be able to help me. And my roommate refuses to tell me who her counselor is, so I have no way of talking to her. Those are both really good suggestions though.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by quidscribis:
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
You should back the hell out of your roomate's life and give her some freakin' space. The amount of attempted micromanagement you describe would cause anyone to stay up all night in sheer rebellion. Get a life of your own, will ya? Sheesh.

KoM, you really need to get a handle on talking to people with some amount of, oh, manners.

This is rude.

If you can't be helpful, don't post.

KoM is being blunt, and though it is rude, it is also probably good to hear. Maybe that kind of tone is necessary when you need someone to see that what they are doing looks really bad to you- lovingkindness and understanding might play into the attitude she already has, that she's doing a GOOD thing by micromanaging her roomate's problems. KoM is not being unduly kind.
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A Rat Named Dog
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As much as I hate the way King of Men expresses himself, I have to say that his blurted reaction was very similar to my internal reaction.

I've been in Evie's roommate's place. I even flunked a semester's worth of classes. (Seemed like a good idea at the time.) But I was an adult, and the one thing that would have made everything much, much worse would be if I had had a roommate who did all the things that Evie wants to do.

I can understand the issues with sleeping and lights. That's the kind of stuff that is worth resolving and compromising on. But how in the world do your roommate's choices about her own sleep schedule and her own education make her a bad friend and a bad roommate? You said, "I can't stand her anymore," and then followed it with a paragraph about things that don't directly affect you at all. I was sitting there thinking, "So when is Evie going to explain why she can't stand her roommate anymore?"

If you want to find a roommate who only does things you approve of, and never makes choices that bother you, there's a way to accomplish that. It's called living alone [Smile]

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quidscribis
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You might notice that I did not take objection to the content. I take objection solely to KoM's method of delivery. Just because KoM has a history of being rude and obnoxious doesn't mean that he should get away with it.

I will grant that there may be extenuating circumstances when that kind of tone may be necessary, but I fail to see how this is one of them.

ETA: This is directed at Orincoro.

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