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Author: Jeannie Hoag

Advice from Space: In Closing

Dear Writers and Readers, This is the last of the messages you will receive from me. The past week has been monumental. Okay, that may be an exaggeration. But the past week has been somewhat eventful, with the result that I have been recalled from my mission. Yes, I am going home! This week, after breakfasting on some grape nutritional goo, I started to feel a little funny. The roof of my mouth was itchy. My ears were itchy and hot. My face was itchy and hot and red. It would have been another one of my interesting diversions,...

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Advice from Space: To Be Real

Dear Advisor from Space, I am concerned that the fine print says you are a fictional persona. Is this true? How do you manage? Am I also a fictional persona? How can I tell? Please help. Signed, Mrs. Rachel Lynde Dear Mrs. Rachel Lynde, Sometimes reality gets a little tiresome, don’t you think? Your wardrobe can hold only so many pairs of pants, for example. You can take only so many days of vacation. Your friendships can withstand only so much social experimentation. When things get dull and predictable, a quick way to perk up your day is to...

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Advice from Space: Let’s Make a Baby

Dear Advice from Space, Why does the late fall/early winter feel so warm? Can you see the warmth from Space? Are we doomed? My despair is rising. Signed, Doomed in 2015 Dear Doomed in 2015, I got a wonderful holiday surprise this week! I was informed by my Mission Control Team that they’d hidden a package on board my spacecraft as a little pick-me-up. Rifling through the bag of “Space Extras” I found a few hotel-sized bars of pine scented soap. In Space, my bathing is restricted to various pro- and anti-bacterial chemical sprays, so there’s not much draw...

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Advice from Space: The Hand That Feeds the Squirrel

Dear Advice from Space, In my backyard I have trained the squirrels, or else the squirrels have trained me, to give them peanuts out of my hand. They still jump and scare easily, thinking I will crush or capture them at a moment’s notice, despite my peace-nuts offering. My question: is this bad for them? Am I teaching them to be unafraid of humans, so that they will then trust the wrong human? Should I have children? Signed, Asking for a Friend Dear Asking for a Friend, This week I dumped out my remaining packets of citrus-flavored nutritional goo-packs....

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Advice from Space: Nothing but Flowers

Dear Advice from Space, How can I be more creative? I’d like to start making things, paintings or stories, or whatever. But what if I suck? Signed, Stampy Dear Stampy, In my heart, I would really like to be a landscaper. I love trees, shrubs, and mulch and all the varieties of dirt and soil and loam. But here’s the tricky part: I have a black thumb. Any plant I’ve ever grown has died. Underwatering, overwatering, radiator-induced mold, neglect, the extreme opposite of neglect—under my watch, plants have enjoyed all manners of demise. As a child I climbed trees...

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Advice from Space: Bee! I’m Expecting You!

Dear Advice from Space, How far into unknown or unexplored regions should I travel? [Totally, Mysteriously Unsigned] Dear Letter Writer, This seems like a good time to talk about my recent spacewalk. It does, doesn’t it? But it’s not a good time. It will never be anything but a terrible time to talk about my spacewalk. Instead, let’s talk about you. Do you remember your so-out-of-touch-he-was-cool 8th grade history teacher who said things like “Whoa, Nelly” and taught the entire class how to tie a Windsor knot? Do you remember how he would let you do wacky things like...

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Advice from Space: From the Gut

Dear Advice from Space, Can I illegally download a movie to watch on an airplane if the movie is available at Netflix—considering I have a Netflix account and that Wi-Fi isn’t available on the plane? Signed, I Hate Looking Out Plane Windows in Virginia Dear I Hate Looking Out, This week I focused a lot of personal attention on the state of my core—you know, assessing my propensity toward slouching and the gradually increasing sticky-outiness of my abdomen against my willingness to partake in holdy-inny exercises. I do spend several hours each day with my spacecraft’s gravity function turned...

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Advice from Space: Attack of the Party People

Dear Advice from Space, What is the best way to behave at a party when your friends are there being foolish, but also where there are smart people in front of whom you’d like not to be foolish? Signed, Jim Jo Janet Dear Jim Jo Janet, This week I decided to refresh my spacecraft’s decor, as a way to feel festive and to mark the passage of time. So I undid my wire sculptures and tucked the wires back into my spacecraft’s paneling as best I could. In general, I’m more of a taker-outer than a putter-awayer—putting things away...

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Advice from Space: On Socks

Dear Advice from Space, My socks keep getting holes in the heel. Not both feet, just the right foot. I’m not sure why, but it happens. My problem is that once you wear your sock on the left foot, it’s fit for the left foot. Putting a left foot sock on the right foot is just plain maddening. I’ve gone as far as putting my socks on wet in hopes of reforming the curvature. No dice. Are there any tricks to keeping warm feet up there? Sincerely, Cold Feet   Your socks, Cold Feet, your socks. They are trying...

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Advice from Space: Visitors Welcome, I Guess

Dear Advice from Space, Do you think I should save my money and buy a seat on one of the tourist Space flights? Signed, Space Tourist in Training Dear Space Tourist in Training, In my time in Space, I’ve learned very little. My muscles have atrophied. I’ve started having conversations with my hairbrush. I have not gathered much new about the varied and nuanced desires of the human race. I’m relying heavily on memories of What You All Are Like, but it’s not always clear whether those memories are real or false. My initial reaction to your Space tourism dreams, and...

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Advice from Space: Who Moved My Cheese

Dear Writers and Readers, Please do me a favor. When you are reading this today, please be eating cheese. Any kind will do (even vegan!). If the good, conflicted people I am reaching through this column are eating cheese, then maybe in a way I am also eating cheese? Most of my food is in the form of nutritional goo-packs. They’re flavored like gummy fruit snacks and, like gummy fruit snacks, in my first days in Space I sorted them by flavor and am saving the best (raspberry, strawberry, and grape) for last. This means I have about 4...

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Advice from Space: Clanks in Captivity

Dear Advice from Space, How do I teach a student whose poems are basically “[Frak] you, teach!” Often I feel the sentiment “[Frak] you, teach” but, also… Signed, L.P. Dear L.P., Your student sounds like a clank. This is definitely a Physician, heal thyself topic for me, but why should I let my personal failures prevent me from helping you? You should ignore that clank. I have learned little from my time in Space, but I like to think I know a thing or two about captivity and, by extension, the captive audience. My spacecraft, though small and recently...

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Advice from Space: The Nothing

Dear Advice from Space, I want to know if a black hole can ever vomit—I mean in a constructive way: how to worldbuild in a Deep Space depression? Signed, R$$   Dear R$$, Space can feel like a tangible nothing, and makes me want a tangible something. I’ve been in dark for 138 days. For certain folks, like those living near the Arctic or Antarctic Circles, those working the night shift, and those in basement apartments, this is unremarkable. For me, however, 138 days of dark is a little too much and my physiology tells me so. I’m hungry,...

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Advice from Space: An Introduction

Dear Writers and Readers, This is the first of the messages you will receive from me. I am beyond very happy to be communicating with you through the magic of satellites. I reach to you from a distance of 238,900 miles, in a space machine just to the left of the moon (your perspective). I have been here for four months. Having read eight times over all the romance novels that fit into my suitcase, I seek another diversion—the diversion of your problems.  Each week, I will offer advice on the daily matters of life on Earth that once...

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