Ask Edna
11 years as an advice columnist

The Gossips

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could just tell us what to do when we have important questions about our lives? Surely everyone has fantasized about this, and surely that desire is part of what drives a persistent love of advice columns. From Dear Abby to Dear Sugar, advice from strangers has been a social constant for a long time.

Today’s guest was an actual anonymous advice columnist. Andy wrote a column called “Ask Edna” for eleven years, from 1996 to 2007, where he fielded all kinds of questions (many of them about office romance, ahem). This interview has been edited for clarity.

 

Tell me about Ask Edna.

My advice column, “Ask Edna,” was written for Wunderman/Y&R for 11 years. The last two of those years, it went global across the agency intranet.

My identity was anonymous the entire time. I chose the pseudonym “Edna” because my name is Andy, and “Andy” spelled backwards is “Edna”….well, almost! LOL.

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My Baby Stole My Confidence

the-dance-of-life

What if I told you that my one and a half year old son stole my confidence? What if I, a 32-year old woman, explained to you that my son grabbed the sense of self I’d gathered from my once-somewhat-assured hands and I don’t know where he put it or how to win it back?

You would laugh at me uneasily, smiling and raising your eyebrows at the invisible studio audience nearby, like, “IS SHE UNHINGED AND SHOULD I RUN AWAY NOW?”  

Stay, please, I’m kidding! I know that my lovely, willful, fascinating kid didn’t abscond with anything of mine, aside from several pennies and a grocery receipt for bananas. I’m not going to foist all that on any human being, least of all one who, with great sincerity, refers to sheep as baa baas. I may be a mess, but I am not a piece of shit.

I wish I could pretend that my career was chugging forward beautifully at age 30, when I got pregnant, but that upon birthing him, he ransacked everything, hijacked my dreams and my heart, and I am now stumbling through the detritus, blindly seeking a path, any path. While that part about the detritus is true, the rest is somebody else’s story. (read more…)

“I found something”

Oscar Shlemmer

Typical conversations about what makes work fun and teams cohesive tend to focus on novel environmental modifications. Think of all the times you’ve heard references to Google’s indoor slides, nap pods, and ping pong tables. Libraries, on the other hand, are known for being quiet, sedate, almost non-descript. But librarians make their own fun using an old-fashioned social construct: potlucks.

Librarians take potlucks very seriously, and generally the food is excellent. This, however, is a story of a potluck dish that went very wrong – and the hilarious efforts undertaken to spare the guilty party from ever knowing about it.

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Imagining the Audience Naked Isn’t Helping! –Better Tips for Public Speaking

George_Caleb_Bingham_-_Stump_Speaking

For a high school video production class, I hosted a live TV segment that was broadcast on our local cable channel. I sat at a desk in our little makeshift news studio to report on a popular security guard at the school and his impact on students’ day-to-day lives. Other students adjusted the cameras and made sure the sound levels were right. At 10:30 am on the dot, we went live. I still vividly remember the feeling of getting the first few lines out coherently, and then…

NOTHING.

It felt like someone hit the eject button on my brain and everything emptied out instantaneously. (read more…)

Freedom from Expectation

Gustav_Klimt_046

I consider myself a creative person, but of all of the jobs I’ve had, I was most content working as an artist’s assistant realizing someone else’s vision.

It was the summer of 2001, which fell between my freshman and sophomore year of college, and I was home in New York City and living with my parents. I had largely avoided looking for a job but, through a former colleague, was offered one as a studio assistant to an artist named Miriam. She did Verre Eglomise, which is the process of gilding precious metals like gold and silver on the reverse side of glass, and etching in a design. My job, basically, was to trace Miriam’s designs by erasing the excess gilding until the pattern she had designed emerged. (read more…)