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carolyn hax: at 22, one partner since age 16 and a difficult itch to discuss

adapted from a recent online discussion.dear carolyn: i have been with my partner for six years and have just graduated from college. i love my partner and could see myself happily married to them for the long haul. however, i am beginning to feel wistful about never having dated anyone else — or kissed anyone else for that matter — and if i feel this way at 22, i fear that by 35 i'll go mad and uproot my life at an even worse time.yet, i can't imagine going through the pain of breaking up with the perfect partner just because of a stupid seven-year itch.how do i make sense of these feelings? i tell my partner everything, and hiding this feeling is suffocating, but i would never want to hurt them, and i know this would devastate them. i feel too young to be this seriously committed b...





talking to kids about how the government works

(salwan georges/the washington post)our news feeds are dominated by politicians, politics and public policy initiatives. our dinner table conversations jump from president trump’s latest tweets to congress’s late-night tax-reform vote.and although most parents have no trouble explaining to their kids where they fall on the political spectrum, many have a much harder time talking to their kids about how government works and, more important, how they might one day be able to help fix it.unfortunately, these basic civics lessons aren’t always covered in school, and it is up to parents to fill the education gaps. [kids consume news but don’t know what’s real or fake. here’s how parents can help.] as a lawyer, i know how our government works. yet sometimes i have a hard time expl...





how to refinish a fiberglass door

q: i have a therma-tru fiberglass front door that a friend recently re-stained using the company's stain kit. the door was sanded (i believe lightly with fine sandpaper) but not stripped. the exterior side turned out blotchy and is totally unacceptable. i think the door needs to be stripped and re-stained, but how do i find someone to do that?a: finishing a fiberglass door, whether you use a kit like therma-tru’s or buy the finishing materials on your own, is a two-step process: first you add color via an oil-based gel stain, then you top that with a clear finish, typically a water-based one designed for exterior use.it’s possible to refresh the clear topcoat once it becomes dull. therma-tru recommends prepping the old finish by just washing it and letting it dry, figuring that a dull...





the story behind how the rob porter scandal broke

the white house faced questions about former staff secretary rob porter’s feb. 7 resignation, after two of his ex-wives accused him of abuse. (patrick martin/the washington post)the story seemed to begin innocuously — a tale of a white house romance, delivered in gossipy style, with the help of paparazzi who caught the attractive staffers canoodling around town.but it gave only a hint of a darker intrigue that was percolating — as reporters for strikingly different publications chased a story about domestic abuse allegations against the male half of the couple, rob porter, a key presidential aide.it’s not clear who nudged reporters to look into porter, who had previously kept a low public profile, or why the story was ultimately broken by dailymail.com — the tabloidy american off...





the political playbook for 2018: get angry, then get elected

mallory hagan reacts as she is crowned miss america 2013 in las vegas. the 29-year-old alabama native announced her democratic bid for congress this month. (ap)mallory hagan’s christmas was rather intense. days before the holiday, emails about the former miss america were made public, illuminating the abuse hagan had absorbed at the hands of pageant officials. one email discussed her sexual partners, another ridiculed her body, saying she was preparing “for her new career . . . as a blimp in the macy’s thanksgiving parade.”eight weeks later, the administration and board of directors of the miss america organization have been dethroned and silenced. and mallory hagan is embarking on a new career: she is running for congress.“the things i’ve had to navigate as a human being ?...





the political playbook for 2018: get angry, then get elected

mallory hagan reacts as she is crowned miss america 2013 in las vegas. the 29-year-old alabama native announced her democratic bid for congress this month. (isaac brekken/ap)mallory hagan’s christmas was rather intense. days before the holiday, emails about the former miss america were made public, illuminating the abuse hagan had absorbed at the hands of pageant officials. one email discussed her sexual partners, another ridiculed her body, saying she was preparing “for her new career . . . as a blimp in the macy’s thanksgiving parade.”eight weeks later, the administration and board of directors of the miss america organization have been dethroned and silenced. and mallory hagan is embarking on a new career: she is running for congress.“the things i’ve had to navigate as a...





how to refinish a fiberglass door

q: i have a therma-tru fiberglass front door that a friend recently re-stained using the company’s stain kit. the door was sanded (i believe lightly with fine sandpaper) but not stripped. the exterior side turned out blotchy and is totally unacceptable. i think the door needs to be stripped and re-stained, but how do i find someone to do that?alexandriaa: finishing a fiberglass door, whether you use a kit like therma-tru’s or buy the finishing materials on your own, is a two-step process: first you add color via an oil-based gel stain, then you top that with a clear finish, typically a water-based one designed for exterior use.it’s possible to refresh the clear topcoat once it becomes dull. therma-tru recommends prepping the old finish by just washing it and letting it dry, figuring ...





it’s easier to have a boyfriend from the past than in messy real life

the author with her imaginary boyfriend, president abraham lincoln. (jamie stiehm)i’ve always found it easier to have a boyfriend from the past than in messy real life.historical boyfriends never let you down. they never leave. you don’t have to worry about whether they’ll call or text. they are always in your heart.let me explain.for a long time, abraham lincoln was my leading man. he just had his 209th birthday. i’ve given a few lincoln’s birthday valentine’s day parties to show how much i care. i usually ask the tallest man there to recite the saddest speech our 16th president ever gave, on a february morning, saying goodbye to 1,000 townspeople at a train station. tears and rain mixed as lincoln gave his “farewell address to springfield.” he was about to become the ci...





denali has only sled dogs in national park service

the national park service’s only team of sled dogs noses around wonder lake in alaska’s denali national park. party, one of the youngest dogs, sits atop the sled during last year’s trip. (photo: jennifer raffaeli/national park service) in the winter, thick snow blankets alaska’s denali national park and preserve, one of our nation’s most incredible wild pla­ces. the wilderness stretches over 6 million acres (that’s bigger than the state of new hampshire). it’s home to north america’s tallest peak, as well as wolves, moose, snowshoe hares and grizzly bears.denali is also home to a one-of-a-kind team of canine park rangers: 31 enthusiastic alaskan huskies pull sleds, helping transport park rangers and loads of heavy equipment in the snow.it’s an important job. with tempera...





talking to kids about how the government works

(salwan georges/the washington post)our news feeds are dominated by politicians, politics and public policy initiatives. our dinner table conversations jump from president trump’s latest tweets to congress’s late-night tax-reform vote.and although most parents have no trouble explaining to their kids where they fall on the political spectrum, many have a much harder time talking to their kids about how government works and, more important, how they might one day be able to help fix it.unfortunately, these basic civics lessons aren’t always covered in school, and it is up to parents to fill the education gaps.as a lawyer, i know how our government works. yet sometimes i have a hard time explaining the basics of u.s. government to my children. for some help distilling it, i turned t...





carolyn hax: at 22, one partner since age 16 and a difficult itch to discuss

adapted from a recent online discussion.dear carolyn: i have been with my partner for six years and have just graduated from college. i love my partner and could see myself happily married to them for the long haul. however, i am beginning to feel wistful about never having dated anyone else — or kissed anyone else for that matter — and if i feel this way at 22, i fear that by 35 i’ll go mad and uproot my life at an even worse time.yet, i can’t imagine going through the pain of breaking up with the perfect partner just because of a stupid seven-year itch.how do i make sense of these feelings? i tell my partner everything, and hiding this feeling is suffocating, but i would never want to hurt them, and i know this would devastate them. i feel too young to be this seriously committed...





miss manners: belated reciprocal valentine a bad idea

by judith martin, nicholas martin and jacobina martinby judith martin, nicholas martin and jacobina martinfebruary 19 at 12:00 amdear miss manners: my son received a gift from a girl for valentine’s day (chocolate-covered strawberries and a stuffed bear). he likes her, but had no idea she was planning on getting him a gift.should he now buy her a valentine gift, even if it is after valentine’s day? or just say “thank you very much’’ and move on? my son is 15 years old and a freshman in high school.and indeed, he may well move on. or may she.but a catch-up present is not flattering. miss manners would counsel him to wait and see if the mutual liking lasts until easter, at which time he could surprise her with a chocolate bunny.dear miss manners: over the years, i have become conce...





hints from heloise: the need to read for children

dear readers: today’s sound off is about people who don’t read to their children or encourage their children to read.“dear heloise: study after study has found that parents should read aloud to their children from the time they’re born through elementary school. having taught school for more than 22 years, i’ve noticed that children who were read to at home developed better verbal skills, better writing skills and a larger vocabulary. “unfortunately, many parents today don’t read to their children. i’ve heard adults say they don’t have time to read to their children, but they need to turn off the tv and make time. your children are the only thing you’ll leave behind of any real and lasting importance, so start reading aloud to them, and make them read aloud to you to im...





ask amy: grieving parent wonders how to respond

dear amy: i’m wondering how to respond to people inquiring about your children when one of them died in the not-too-distant past.my 35-year-old daughter died last summer after a hellish battle with cancer. we are all, of course, still struggling with grief, though we’ve had great support and the impacts are diminishing over time.my struggle is with questions like, “do you have children?” “how many children do you have?” “how’s your family?” and similar questions that arise in casual conversation, or with people you’ve not seen for several years.i don’t believe in an afterlife, so i don’t believe my daughter is still around, and using the present tense implies existence, so it feels wrong to me. and this is even worse when her 7-year-old daughter is with me: she know...





daisuke nakazawa is opening a sushi restaurant in a trump hotel. and he’s not apologizing.

chef daisuke nakazawa serves diners at sushi nakazawa in manhattan in 2015. (melina mara/washington d.c.)on a recent saturday afternoon, a sushi chef was admiring a portrait of napoleon hanging in the national gallery of art. he was joking that in those white pants and vest, the french emperor looked like a chef. perhaps he was laughing too loudly, because it caught the attention of a 26-year-old tourist from dallas, who raced over with a glimmer of recognition and bowed, asking with equal parts reverence and revelry: “excuse me, but are you nakazawa?”the name “nakazawa” has been ricocheting around washington’s chattering class since 2016, because it is also the name of a restaurant that is about to open in the old post office building on pennsylvania avenue — a.k.a. the trump ...





miss manners: articulating a formal dress code

by judith martin, nicholas martin and jacobina martinby judith martin, nicholas martin and jacobina martinfebruary 17dear miss manners: my husband and i would like to hold a formal ball, with no particular occasion attached. how should the invitation be worded? (it will, of course, be engraved — or thermographed, but miss manners must not look too closely.) if the ladies are to wear ballgowns, must the gentlemen wear black tie? none of the guests probably owns a tuxedo, and renting one is a financial burden we would like to avoid putting on them. finally, we are providing on-site child care, but i presume that that should not go on a formal invitation, so how do we tell them?a formal invitation (and when it comes to engraving, miss manners always looks closely — she just never speaks o...





the students at florida’s douglas high are amazing communicators. that could save lives.

david hogg is a senior at marjory stoneman douglas high school in parkland, fla. he started recording footage on his phone during the shooting. speaking to the post, hogg urged congress to take action on gun violence in schools. (whitney shefte,jorge ribas/the washington post)telegenic and media-savvy is one way to describe david hogg, a lean and dark-haired senior at florida’s marjory stoneman douglas high school.but maybe a better way is this: change agent.and what could be more sorely needed than a change agent right now? because the mass shootings in america have become a horror of repetition in which meaningful change has come to seem impossible.enter hogg. the 17-year-old is the school’s student news director, who not only interviewed his fellow students during the horrific massa...





sharing stories from decades ago, older women find their place in #metoo

stanice anderson, mary procter, ming crusey, ann geracimos and robin blum talk about sexual harassment and the #metoo movement at procter’s home. (evelyn hockstein/for the washington post)they share their stories one by one, sitting side by side around a coffee table crowded with cookies and mugs of tea.ann geracimos, 82, remembers the boyfriend she dated in the early 1960s who once lost his temper during an argument and slapped her across the face. robin blum, 62, recalls her 30th birthday, when a male co-worker handed her an envelope with a pair of racy underpants tucked inside. ming crusey, 71, describes how stunned she was when a clergy member groped her in church — in the presence of her young children. stanice anderson, 67, says her life was forever changed at 14 years old, when ...





evan birnholz’s feb. 18 post magazine crossword, “upstaged”

happy 76th birthday to the new york times crossword puzzle. to echo what a friend of mine said the other day: it’s hard to believe what a huge impact a grid of white and black squares has had on millions of people’s lives. i’m especially grateful for all of the people i’ve met who enjoy filling out those squares as much as i do.solution to february 18, 2018 crossword, “upstaged”eight one-word musicals have been spelled upward in familiar phrases running down in the grid:3d: [“well, i never!”] is what nerve, which hides rent backward.5d: [former nhl team that relocated to colorado in 1995] is quebec nordiques, which hides once backward.11d: [bandleader pérez prado’s sobriquet] is king of the mambo, which hides mame backward.16d: [some firestone products] is radial tires...





animal attraction: some species act like lovebirds, but is it really love?

even some of the least sappy humans get a little mushy about love around valentine’s day. do other animals love their mates — or family, or friends — in the same way we love one another?you might think you know what your pets are thinking, but it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for us to understand how nonhumans experience the world.let’s use dogs as an example: on the one hand, studies show that when pups make eye contact with humans, both species get a boost of oxytocin (ock-see-toe-sin). that’s a chemical scientists don’t totally understand, but they know that our bodies make more of it when we’re forming social bonds and that it often makes us feel good. in humans, at least, it’s an important ingredient for making a love connection.but even when there are s...