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DEAR ABBY

Friend invited on trip seizes control of agenda

DEAR ABBY: A few years ago, I asked a friend to accompany me to a concert for which I offered her a free ticket. (I paid $150 for each one.) The original plan was to travel from New York state to Ohio, which would have been a three-day weekend. She responded with a grateful yes, then instantly changed the location to head in the opposite direction, planned out the entire trip, including the driving, and turned it into a five-day trip!

Well, it happened again. She’s a great travel companion, so I asked if she’d like to go to Nashville with me for a couple of days. It instantly changed to a week, and she invited other people to join us without discussing it with me. Within 90 minutes of bringing up the trip to her, it no longer includes Nashville! It’s like she waited for me to invite her to do something just so she could change it to something she wanted to do.

It really hurts that she oversteps my invitations. If I continue to plan the trip, including everything she wants to do, we will be gone for weeks. What can I say or do to make her see I really wanted to go to Nashville? — DERAILED IN NEW YORK

DEAR DERAILED: Here’s what to say to this presumptuous person:

“The itinerary you have planned isn’t what I had in mind at all, so carry on by yourself. I am going to Nashville.” And then follow through. Bon voyage!

DEAR ABBY: I currently live in my parents’ house with my 1-year-old son and husband. We live here not because of unfortunate circumstances or events, but because we help my elderly and disabled parents with things such as bills, rent, groceries, etc. Unfortunately, my lazy sister also lives under the same roof. She refuses to get a job or help around the house, and often creates extreme drama. Benign events seem to set her off.

I have told my parents on numerous occasions that I can’t deal with the madness, and either she goes or we do. But I end up feeling such immense guilt at the thought of my parents struggling with bills and daily rituals that I end up pushing those feelings of anger and resentment aside.

I don’t know what I should do. Should I free myself from my sister’s unhinged behavior and move out, or should I stick it out and suck it up in order to be a good daughter and help my parents? — ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

DEAR ROCK: The problem with issuing an ultimatum is that for it to be effective, one has to be prepared to follow through.

You haven’t done that, so your protestations aren’t taken seriously. You and your husband need to have one more talk with your parents and make clear that the current living situation isn’t working for you because it is too stressful. Tell them if the situation isn’t changed — and your sister at the very least finds a job and contributes — you and your husband will be moving. Then follow through.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Game show announcer Johnny Gilbert (“Jeopardy!”) is 93. Actor Patrick Stewart is 81. Actor Harrison Ford is 79. Singer-guitarist Roger McGuinn (The Byrds) is 79. Actor-comedian Cheech Marin is 75. Singer Louise Mandrell is 67. Director Cameron Crowe is 64. Comedian Tom Kenny (“Spongebob Squarepants”) is 59. Bluegrass singer Rhonda Vincent is 59. Actor Ken Jeong is 52. Singer Deborah Cox is 48. Actress Ashley Scott is 44. Actress Aya Cash  (“You’re the Worst”) is 39. Soul singer Leon Bridges is 32.

TODAY'S HOROSCOPE

Be charming, helpful and open to suggestions. A positive attitude is infectious. Step into the future with optimism, hope and faith. Strive to excel; don’t let the past hold you back. Take ownership of what’s to come and move ahead.

CANCER (June 21-July 22) — Explore the possibilities, associate with like-minded people and see what you can achieve. Your happiness is in your hands; choose the path that makes you feel good about who you are and what you do.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) — Do your best to make a difference. Make suggestions and offer your services. Your time and effort are as valuable as cash, if not more so. Do what feels right and works for you.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) — Discuss matters of concern openly and honestly. Taking charge will help you bring about positive change and gain respect from your peers. A professional incident will strike an emotional chord.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 23) — A disciplined approach to whatever you do will help you reach your goal. Take good care of your health and physical well-being. Stay in shape and don’t take risks with your health.

SCORPIO (Oct. 24-Nov. 22) — You’ve got the right moves and brains to bring about positive lifestyle changes. Stop dreaming about what you want; begin the process that will lead to better days ahead. Expand your mind.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 23-Dec. 21) — Emotional situations will be costly. Distance yourself from people who try to take advantage of you or who are misleading. Look inward and consider what will make you happy.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) — An unexpected change will encourage financial gain. An investment, major move or boost to your earning potential looks promising. Pay attention to detail; focus on what you can do to get ahead.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Do your best to get along with others. Look for common ground, and you will overcome setbacks. Put your skills to the test, and implement adjustments if needed. Romance is featured.

PISCES (Feb. 20-March 20) — Embrace opportunities. Help bring about positive change. Home improvements, discussions with loved ones and big plans will brighten your day. Avoid physical risks.

ARIES (March 21-April 19) — Don’t take on too much. Channel your energy where it counts. Change begins with you, and your success depends on finishing what you start. Romance is on the rise.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20) — Spend more time gathering information and studying the possibilities, and less time thinking about what others are doing. Be a leader and you will avoid bad situations.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20) — Spend time fixing up your space and putting things in order. Don’t let outside influences override what you know is best for you. Gauge your success by the happiness you achieve.

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

By Chuck Sheppard

Compelling Explanation: When Lee Bowman’s neighbors in Sioux City, Iowa, failed to mow his lawn by the afternoon of May 23, after he had asked them to, he visited their home to complain, then tried to peel a registration sticker off one of their vehicle license plates. Some time later, however, police and firefighters were called to the neighbors’ home, which was on fire. Investigators found a pile of sticks and plywood piled against the side of the house and evidence that gas had been used to start the fire. Bowman, 53, told police that he had seen the fire burning but didn’t call 911 because it wasn’t any of his business. But the Sioux City Journal reported that the kindling came from Bowman’s home. The fire caused an estimated $3,000 damage to the home, and the family requested a no-contact order from the court. Meanwhile, Bowman was held at the Woodbury County Jail on suspicion of arson.

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