Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dear Ally...

I learn from you guys every day.  Seriously.  I acquire valuable information from your blogs and your comments here.  Thank you for that.
I was thinking about a way to re-pay this debt and also add more entertainment to my blog.  An idea popped into my head today (ouch!) and I want to toss it out there to see if it sticks.

Growing up, I loved to read advice columns.  Ann Landers, Dear Abby, Miss Manners, et al.  I enjoy when people try to figure out the conundrums of life, big and small.  Those columns help a lot of readers sort things out.  Plus, they're fun.

So, I'm going to start an advice-column of my own, here on the blog.  I'll offer advice to any of you who writes in with a question.  I'll try to keep the answers helpful and witty.  You can pose a question anonymously or with your name attached; that's up to you.

The column will appear occasionally, when there are interesting questions to consider.  Often, people's questions are as important as the answers, so you share some responsibility in the success of this venture.

Your questions can be serious or humorous.  I'll respond to each accordingly.  You can ask about anything. 

Subjects I'm knowledgeable about are:
- Law ("Can the landlord keep my security deposit?")
- Romantic relationships ("Should I worry that my boyfriend watches a lot of porn?")
- Gender ("Is it okay for boys to play with dolls?")
- Art and culture ("What is Woody Allen's best movie?")
- Health and fitness ("What the hell is quinoa and should I eat it?")
- Etiquette and public behavior ("Should I give up my seat on the bus to an old man?")

This might be fun for us.  I'll do my best.  Send questions to and say whether you want to be anonymous or identified.

Oh, and the title of this post refers to a name (short for Allison) that my close friends call me.  I'm going to use it as the title of the advice-column, in homage to the pioneers Ann Landers and her sister Abby.

I haven't used the name Ally on the blog before because I don't want new readers to be confused about who I am.  Once you know me, you can call me whatever you are comfortable with.  I answer to anything.


  1. I think this is a great idea! I love it : ) and I think you should put your email on the blog somewhere on the side so people can send you those emails after this post is archived


  2. Cute idea! I like advice columns too!

  3. Ally suits you- very feminine yet strong and intelligent (I think names can tell us a lot!) This is such a great idea- I have a few relationship questions I will be sending your way!

  4. "What the hell is quinoa and should I eat it?"

    I totally LOL'ed. And I never LOL. Thanks.

    This is exciting! I'll have to think on some questions a bit and then send you off an email. I did an "Ask Ashley" thing on one of my old blogs. Actually, I did it twice. The first time was really successful (as successful as a 15 year old's blog advice column can be, you know). The second time, I got plagued by naughty questions. I don't think you'll have a problem!

  5. I love that you go by Ally - I'm going to use that. I know you as Ralph, but it doesn't suit the you who comes through in your posts. Ally really suits you.

    What a fun idea! I don't have any questions (yet), but I'm looking forward to reading your responses.

  6. This is a Fabulous Idea! My best friend in high school was named Allison!
    : )

  7. What a fabulous idea! I loved those advice columns in my Mum's magazines when I was younger.

  8. Ah, I remember reading Ann Landers; those were really fun! Probably my favourite advice columnist, though, is Dan Savage of Savage Love. Do you know him?

    Also, re: my supposedly having more experiences than you: I wouldn't say that. Well, I guess I've had a lot of some kinds of experiences, not many of others. And if I've learned one thing, it's that how someone appears on paper is not necessarily how they are. I've met a lot of people who live in cool places, speak four languages, are good at sports and music and you name it... and are deeply, irrevocably boring. And some people who have never left their hometown but are amazingly empathetic and informed. : )

  9. Great idea!!
    "What the hell is quinoa and should I eat it?".
    That could have been my actual question you know!

    Love the name!

  10. What a brilliant idea.
    This morning I have realise that a +1 appears next to M-T-Facebook, etc. Any idea what it is for, and should I use it?
    Thank you, Ally.

  11. I do so love this idea Ally ;-)


  12. Cool idea and i can't wait to read your column

  13. I LOVE this idea.. so fun and I like how you are being so creative.. and love the examples of things you can answer... hah hah we eat quinoa all the time.. funny!! now I have to come up with some good questions for you!! xoxo J

  14. I'm glad this is getting a positive reaction. After I posted it, I started to worry (which is my default-reaction to most things). I worried that nobody would like the idea, that nobody would submit questions, and that nobody would even comment to tell me how stupid it is. Fortunately, you guys dispelled those fears.

    A Fine Balance: Good point. My e-mail is already on my blogger profile but, to make it easier to find, I'm going to put it directly on the blog. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Ashley: I live to make you laugh. Really.

    Sheila (and others): I'm glad the name Ally isn't throwing you for a loop and that you like it. Using it is my preference but I'm reluctant to push something like this on people. I don't assume acceptance of my true nature.

    Emily: Yes, I read Savage Love. He has an interesting perspective. And I agree with you about people: I've had the same experiences.

    BTW, quinoa is a trendy new food that's highly nutritious. It looks like rice but isn't actually a grain; technically it's a seed. It's a great ingredient for salads.

  15. This is such a fun idea. You are the perfect candidate for such column. If it takes off you can even create a button 'ask Ally' that we can advertise on our blogs etc... You can have a question submission link direct from your blog.
    Fun, fun, fun. I will have to come up with a good question soon.

  16. Ahhhh We are kindred spirits! I LOVE advice columns! I still remember getting the Korea Times back home in Korea, and the paper ran Ann Landers. Most days, it was the only thing I read in the paper. I still read advice columns today. My favorites are Dear Prudence (by the lovely Emily Yoffe) and Dear Sugar. I have to admit that I miss Ann Landers, and I'm not a big fan of Annie's mailbox. Which advice columns are your faves? :)

  17. I know what the (+1) is Ally. The equivalent of the old LIKE.

  18. I love this idea. Now I need to think about a good question.

    PS: Quinoa is NOT a new food. It's an old food from South American. Hightest protein content in a grain- so great for vegetarians. Cooks as easy as rice (just rinse to remove bitterness.) It is gluten-free, healthy and tasty. It might be new to American palettes, but its an ancient grain. Ok, this cook is now off her soapbox. xo.

  19. this is such a great idea! i need to think about a question :)

  20. Why are you such a genius?
    You are PERFECT for doling out advice.
    I cannot wait until this column begins.
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

  21. I swear when I commented on you being so great and supportive that I didn't see this... Now reading that you'll be doing an advice column just makes me smile. You are perfect for this!

    Not only are you a sweet person but you are also rational minded... and I think you will give people great advice. Can't wait for your first post on this.

  22. I think this is such a great idea !
    I never knew that you went by Ally - now i do :) !

  23. I was thinking about the name Ally, and why I like that you didn't spell it Alli... Synonyms for ally include friend, aide, accomplice, accessory, assistant, abettor; colleague, coadjutor, auxiliary, helper.

    Which is how I think of you. Not just as "ALL-EEE", but as my "ALL-EYE".

    Blogger still isn't letting me log in for comments, BTW. So if you can help me with that, it would be awesome!


  24. Ally suits you, in fact now that I say it over and over in my head, I'm thinking if I had met you as a woman named Ally, I would have thought to myself, here's someone who's true to her name. How did you choose it, may I ask?

    In response to your comment on my previous post, I'm truly happy that you understand the point of view I speak from. And your idea of seeing beauty and the true purpose in every activity instead of considering it as a chore that needs to be gotten out of the way might just be the essential attitude we're missing. So thanks for that thought, Ally. :)


    Twitter - @ishrattrishna

  25. Tashrin, the name was suggested to me by someone very familiar with gender. Immediately upon hearing it, I reaized how perfect it is and adopted it.

  26. What a fun idea! I used to love reading Dear Abby and Ann Landers, especially all the questions that involved mother-in-law drama of some sort (there seems to be an awful lot of that, doesn't there?). Also, what a great way to incorporate your name into the blog. I love it!

  27. Great idea. Looking forward to seeing what you get asked and your answers.

    And I know it won't be like this (

  28. Very interesting indeed, I think you were able to explain the psyche of this so it's easily understandable. You need to continue to embrace being a female, it is what makes you happy and you no longer need to suppress anything.


  29. Thank you, Jazmin, for your wonderful support.