DEAR ABBY: I moved to Australia 10 years ago. It has been a fantastic adventure, but I feel drawn home. Complicating things is the fact that I have a same-sex Australian partner. Because gay marriage is not federally recognized in the United States, he has no possibility of legally emigrating there. His skills are not sufficient.
To move back to the U.S. would destroy my home, which is a happy one. On the other hand, I come from a large, close family, and my parents are entering their 70s. I miss my family and my culture every day, and feel torn between my family in the U.S. and my partner in Australia.
I have felt this way for a few years. I feel unable to settle down and start living or feel comfortable in my life until I work this out. The thought of not being around my family in the long term is unbearable. The thought of leaving my partner is equally painful. I have tried in vain to find an answer and feel overwhelmed. Help! - TRANS-PACIFIC READER
DEAR TRANS-PACIFIC: I don't know your financial situation, but why must this be an "either/or" situation? You're happily settled in a beautiful country and enjoying a loving relationship. I assume you also have a well-paying job.
Your dilemma might be solved by visiting your parents more often, particularly since their health is still good. If that changes, you could return to the U.S. for a more extended period. Until the laws in the U.S. regarding same-sex marriage change, that's what you will have to do unless you're willing to sacrifice your relationship.
DEAR ABBY: Is it proper to tip your tattoo artist or piercer? They provide a service, just as a hairdresser would. I have never seen this addressed before. Your input would be helpful. - CURIOUS IN UPSTATE NEW YORK
DEAR CURIOUS: Tattoos and piercings are considered works of art, and it's not unusual for a customer to present the artist with a gratuity commensurate with the degree of satisfaction the person feels with the results, the time it took to create it and the intricacy of the design. In lieu of money, sometimes gifts such as art books, spiritual artifacts or jewelry are given to the artist.
DEAR ABBY: I met the woman of my dreams about a year ago. Her husband had died about two months before our paths crossed. She has two teenage daughters I'm very fond of.
I have a history of alcoholism and she's a hoarder. A week ago, I had an "epiphany:" I am desperately trying to quit drinking for my own sake.
Abby, I am a clean freak living with a hoarder. I come home from work and get depressed and stressed from looking at all the clutter. It is driving me insane. I feel like it is triggering me to stay drunk every night.
I don't want to lose this woman and her family, but I can't co-exist in this house. I have left several times, only to miss her and go back. I'm trying to kick the booze, but I know I won't be able to achieve sobriety while living in this house. - TRULY TORN IN TEXAS
DEAR TRULY TORN: If you quit drinking only a week ago, it is important that you find an AA group to help you hang onto your sobriety. That's step one.
Next, realize that you and the lady you're living with may share a similar problem. You say you are a "clean freak." This can be a symptom of an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Hoarding can be a symptom of the same disorder.
The International OCD Foundation is a reliable resource that may be able to help you both. It offers individuals with this disorder the support they need to manage their symptoms, and has many local chapters. You can locate it online at www.ocfoundation.org or reach it by calling 617-973-5801.
DEAR ABBY: Maybe you would like to pass this on to the parents of teenage boys. It worked for me when I had the sex talk with my sons. I knew their brains had not yet fully developed. They thought they were invincible and had an "it could never happen to me" attitude.
Because money seems to be the one thing at that age they can relate to, I decided to turn it into a mathematical problem: I told them that if they got a girl pregnant, they could figure on a minimum of $300 a month child support, multiplied by 12 months for 18 years. (That totals $65,000 - unless the girl has twins, which would double the amount.)
Then I told them if they were tempted to have unprotected sex, they should look at the girl and ask themselves if they would pay her $65,000 to have sex with them. If they couldn't answer yes, then they needed to walk away.
Abby, it worked! No grandchildren appeared until after they were married. Feel free to share this with other parents who would appreciate a "nontraditional" approach that is effective. - TONY IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR TONY: Gladly. I'm passing your technique along because money is a great motivator, and your idea makes "cents."
DEAR ABBY: My roommate insists that undershirts should be washed right-side-out. I say as long as you're using detergent and bleach, it doesn't matter. Who is right? - MR. CLEAN IN OCEANSIDE, CALIF.
DEAR MR. CLEAN: I don't claim to be a domestic goddess, but I don't think there is a right or wrong way to wash undershirts. I have heard, however, that washing garments inside out will prevent lint buildup on the outside, and in the case of denim, will cause less fading.
Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.