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Existential Crisis!

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Totally Married Podcast

Episode 124

Elizabeth and Andy discuss what’s taking place in their house that is sending Elizabeth into a bit of a tailspin as well as ask the listeners for help on a precarious dog situation. Then they answer listener questions about how to be a compassionate co-worker when your colleague is going through hell, what to do when your boyfriend won’t stop talking to a girl who is in love with him, how to navigate the holiday drinking when you are secretly pregnant, how to throw a fun wedding and reception on a budget, how to include your newly-mothered best friend in your birthday festivities and lastly, why does talking on the phone suck so bad and MUST you always call to ask someone out on a date?! Enjoy!


G-Dog says:

Concerning the dogs, you could get the dog house and straw and knock on the door. Tell the owners a little white lie and say that you had an extra dog house/straw around and noticed they haven’t gotten a dog house yet. You thought you’d be neighborly and give them the one you weren’t using. (You could also say that it was from a dog who is no longer with you and make it seem like they are doing you a favor by taking it – with being pregnant and needing to get rid of old things you are no longer using to make room for baby.). Just a thought.

James says:


Although actually I don’t think Operation Doghouse Drop is such a bad idea either. I’d advise against confrontation, it pretty much never works.

Amy says:

I agree with G-Dog. I would go over and tell them you have a dog house to get rid of and you wondered if they might want it. That is not at all confrontational and most likely will work.

MrHallsBetterHalf says:

This is a really great idea. Make them feel like they are doing you a favor by taking it off your hands. BRAVO.

Danielle says:

This is the exact idea that popped into my head while listening to the episode. You could also say that you saw it for super cheap at a yard sale, but for some reason your own dog just won’t take to it, so you thought they might get some use out of it.

Basically just a tell a white lie that makes it seem like you’re doing them a favor instead of trying to save their dogs from winter.

Anna says:

Yep, I was going to suggest this as well. Say a friend gave you a doghouse, but it’s too big and you’ve noticed they have bigger dogs and thought they might like it!

Mara says:

This is exactly what I was going to say. Or, that you work for a rescue and were about to drop off some things there to donate. Figured you would drop it with them.

Marisa says:

Regarding the dogs, I like the other commenters suggestion but if you want to actually educate the owners I think you should involve your local animal rescue or animal services group. The last thing you want is to get confrontational with strangers while pregnant. Just my two cents.

Regarding the coworker of the bereaved parent, if it was me I would discreetly change my wallpaper on my computer and take home the mug. The other photos are in your desk space which can be avoided by the coworker if he desires but the scale of the desktop and the portability of the mug mean that it’s everywhere all the time. Maybe get a holiday mug to bring in so it just looks like you are being festive. Regarding “bragging” or speaking about your child, that is likely unavoidable to some degree. Maybe try to let him guide the conversations. If he says “how’s the family” then talk about your child is probably ok. If he says “how are you” or “how are things” talk about your annoying inlaws and your latest home project instead. I have lost a baby during pregnancy and personally these small gestures would not make me uncomfortable but rather I would appreciate them – the days are likely already difficult for him to navigate. Also, You are a super considerate person.

allison says:

Ok, this might be a bit convoluted. What if you have a yard or garage sale for the extra things you are moving around in anticipation of baby Oprah. Include a dog house in the mix, oops it doesn’t sell, sad face.

Hey neighbors, you want this dog house? You would really be helping a lady out and I’m sure your little guys would enjoy it! You do! Fantastic!

Matt says:

I am on the board of directors of an animal shelter in CO, we hear these types of concerns a lot. I agree with Marisa, you should contact your local animal control agency and report this. Most cities have ordinances that require you to have shelter for your dogs if they are left outside. The owner usually won’t get in trouble for the first report as long as there are no signs of intentional abuse or neglect, so no need to feel bad about “turning them in”. The animal control folks will educate them on what they need to do for their dog. You might also be able to tell the animal control people that you’re willing to anonymously donate a dog house if they can’t afford one.

Ashley says:

To the girl who is planning a budget wedding, we had a few friends get married over the summer who were on tight budgets. One couple got married at their family farm and had only immediate family at the ceremony and dinner, they had family members make the food for the dinner. Than they had an after party for extended family and friends which consisted of small dancefloor with an iPod playing some upbeat music a small bonfire with a smores bar and some small finger foods. It was probably one of the funnest wedding receptions we’ve been to. It was so laid back and they were able to do it for super cheap.

MrHallsBetterHalf says:

Stacking books in threes and tying ribbon around them in your color would make a great endcap at each row of chairs in the isle and you could also place a candle in a mason jar to set on each one . I hope you have a stress free wedding preparation. Congratulations

Robin H says:

Our wedding was on a budget as we were just graduating from college. We had an afternoon wedding so a big meal wasn’t expected by the guests. Instead we had heavy appetizers which were prepared by my aunt’s church group (a few hundred bucks to buy the food and another couple hundred as a donation to the church). To keep the food and drinks fresh, we had a Girl Scout troop (teenagers) on the job, again for a donation to their troop.
Our cake was made by a family friend who wanted to learn how and took the free classes at the craft store. Other family friends helped out in a lot of different ways. It never hurts to ask someone who has a special talent to help you celebrate your day.

Regarding the pitbulls and the dog house, what if you just played the pregnant card. Just knock on the door, bring cookies, a nice card, and simply say,”Hey, pardon my craziness, but I just wanted to stop by and say hello and that I think you puupies are so cute. Would you be offeneded if I bring them some supplies? I think my hormones are making me too motherly.”

HAHA, I mean, I’d be like, awww she’s cute, sure please help me.

emily says:

I say, just write them a letter! You can make it anonymous, or not. If they don’t do anything after that, contact a shelter?

Leen says:

Oh E, I feel for you. You just want to do the right thing for these dogs but it’s super hard. I think maybe let the authorities take care of it? You can call the rescue organization, even anonymously if you want, and tip them off about the dogs maybe? That way you don’t have to put yourself in the line of fire (and keep baby Oprah bump safe too!) and you are still doing something good. If you approach the owners there is a chance that they will just write you off as a crazy neighbour and not do anything about it anyway leaving you in a lose-lose situation. If you call the authorities then they will go and have a look and assess the situation and they can actually do something about it. They have the authority to take the dog away if need be because they are the professionals. It also sounds like you already know a bunch of people who work for that type of organization so you can trust that they will do the right thing. I hope that helps! Also I totally understand the changing the office into a nursery situation. It is especially tough because you associate going through personal item with your parents house so it will always be a trigger for you. That’s ok, you are allowed to feel sad about it. There is no use holding it in so embrace it :) Having those types of vulnerabilities is what is making you so compassionate and the main reason why I love this pod cast so much! :) Having the courage to be vulnerable is one of the strongest and most beautiful things someone can do. xoxoxo

Kat says:

If the writer-inner looking for a lower-budget wedding is in Los Angeles / Southern California, check out Bookend Events! They have done so many cute book-themed / DIY weddings. Also Offbeat Bride and A Practical Wedding are great online resources for the lower-budget wedding.

Jeanenne says:

I have a cheap-ish book favor idea. We own a little used bookstore in Buffalo, NY. One of our customers bought a box of mass market sized classic novels from us– we love her so cut her a deal ($1 a book). She wrapped each one in brown paper with a pretty bow so everyone got a some fun surprise reading material! If you have some time, you can hunt around garage sales/library sales to make it even cheaper. Good luck!

Shea says:

I totally agree that the laimewed with 3 kids and lying boyfriend should bounce! That guy seems like a total sociopath! Yuck!

O-Shen Christ says:

Absolutely and cut his balls off at night. He should never reproduce!! You advice is always spot on!!

Chasity says:

Thank you guys for ur input..I’m the writerinner :) think the advice given is accurate, just needed to hear an out siders opinion, you know? Wanted verification that my thoughts of hitting him with a getting pan were justified…and i see they are, so….operation breakup in progress as we speak..
Thanks again!

Lacy says:

In response to the girl looking for cheap wedding ideas…pinterest was a great suggestion Elizabeth! There are so many great ideas out there, but it does get a little overwhelming! It sounds like they’ve got the location covered. And Andy was right about the food. That’s definitely the next biggest thing. My suggestion is ask around with your family. My grandma begged me to cater my reception, and I told her no because I wanted her to be able to enjoy the wedding. I wish I had though! After the reception when all the left over food ended up going to waste I realized that dropping over 3 grand on just the food was INSANE! Chances are someone in your family or close group of friends would love to help out in whatever way they can! And there’s no need to do a huge meal, just do cute little finger foods. No one comes to a wedding expecting to fill up. Alcohol is another big expense. A friend of mine just got married and her reception was BYOB. It may sound a little tacky, but it’ll save you money! Besides, some people may not drink. You should probably provide the non-alcoholic beverages though. Iced tea and water are easy and cheap.
Side note-I’m looking to sell some of my wedding decor from my burlap and lace themed wedding if anyone is interested! Centerpieces were dark purple, white, and teal flowers in vases wrapped in burlap and lace.

Sarah says:

Regarding the guy with the coworker who is losing his son to cancer, I wouldn’t change anything. I would be a little mindful, for awhile, coming in and talking about your son and all the amazing things he does in front of this man. At least for a little while. But I don’t think you need to get rid of any of your stuff. Life goes on. It’s so heartbreaking. I think this guy is being super sweet for taking this man’s feelings into account, and people grieve in different ways and just can’t assume how he’ll feel.

Lisa says:

In response to the dogs outside, As a fellow dog lover I understand how upsetting it is to see dogs left outside in the cold, however you did say that you think the dogs go inside when the dog owners are home, so assuming that is the case they might not have a dog house in their yard due to the fact that many pit bulls will chew up anything in the yard if they are left outside alone all day. I have many friends with very well trained loving pitbulls and most have had issues with them chewing or tearing things up when left alone. Including a giant Kong chew toy that had to be surgically removed. It does not excuse them leaving the dogs to no cover from the rain but it may explain how a plastic dogloo isn’t the solution. If the dogs don’t go in at night and look neglected obviously that really changes things, I just wanted to add that be a possible reason.

Abby says:


Regarding the dog house situation. I have been in the exact situation but on the other side. I had a long haired dog and it was a particularly hot summer. Someone called the authorities and we were told we had to provide shelter that was “adequate” aka a dog house. I was very miffed that this person would call the authorities instead of speaking with me directly because had they done so they would have gotten some background. I work from home so I am constantly checking on the dog, whenever he is brought inside he whines to go outside, we have a large sprawling yard that includes an overhang which provides shade, and many natural shade barriers which our dog has never chosen to use. They also would have known that we have a dog house that our dog does not like to use so we gave it away. We got the old doghouse and put it right where the caller could see (we asked the authorities to give us some detail and determined where she could have seen our yard from) and he never once used it. My family and I were very offended because we love our dog so much and would never do anything to put him in harms way. I think the best approach would be to knock on the door and say “Hey it has been very rainy lately and your dogs seem to be cold during the day in this wet weather- not sure if you would know this since I assume you are away at work.” This will give you the opportunity to educate them a bit on proper dog care(in a nice way!) and hopefully it will put your mind at ease if they are totally nice normal pet owners who just don’t realize the situation. If you just drop it off you will never know what the situation is and may end up continually worrying about the dogs in the future even if they do bring a dog house into the yard. If based on the conditions the house is in currently you think there is no chance they will get a dog house, I might approach it like “hey I have this dog house that im not using but its been super cold and rainy so I figured you could use it if you like.”

emily says:

To the lady worried about the heavy drinking family and not tipping them off that you’re pregnant: I’ve thought a lot about this for myself in the future since my family is kinda like this – not alcoholics, but we like to drink and if you’re not drinking you’re probably pregnant – anyway, the best thing I’ve come up with so far is a diet excuse. I recently wanted to try out the paleo diet, and you can’t have alcohol. I tried this recently with my fam and it went over fine (I’m not pregnant, I really was trying out the diet, but it should work as an excuse!). It doesn’t even have to be paleo – it could be any general diet/cutting carbs/processed stuff/whatever. Anyway, hope that helps! Otherwise, you could always do the ole club soda with a lemon slice trick.

ashley c says:

Doghouse Sitch:

Here’s the deal- people totally love free stuff. Draft up a cute letter about how your group (Totally Dogs?) gives away free doghouses in Silverlake for the holidays. Let them know that someone in your group noticed that their dogs don’t have one, so you wanted to make sure they were on your list this year.

Attach this cute letter to said doghouse with a large bow and feel free to pull a doghouse drop. Totally legit; I’ve actually done this before and it worked well. Good luck and keep us posted!

Amber says:

To the fellow who isn’t great on the telephone…I think you should use whatever mode of communication makes you feel most comfortable is the one you should use! I get really shy on the phone and I would be RELIEVED if a guy text me instead of calling. Also, if the lady you’re contacting has mutual feelings, I’m sure the WAY you choose to contact her isn’t going to be scrutinized, she will just be pleased that you did! Once you snag the date, you can talk about your preferred way to communicate with each other.

Jessy in Zürich says:

Not drinking because you’re secretly pregnant?
If you tell people that you’re taking antibiotics (you can be vague about a little infection – bronchial?-) they will understand that you can not, should not, must not have alcohol. Certain antibiotics (metronidazol) can make you violently ill if combined with alcohol.

Elle D says:

I think I understand your office angst. I was recently accepted into a graduate program and when I am done I will work in my field at the highest level and it’s great news for me and my future that I applied and was accepted.

Applying and pursuing this degree, however, has meant I have even less time to spend writing, which is what my fine arts undergrad degree was in. Becoming a writer has been in my head for as long as I can remember as what I wanted to “do”.

Applying to this program was like taking a step back from one of my futures and stepping in another direction. So although it’s a great feeling, there is an undercurrent of sadness that’s hard to talk about.

Mark says:

Regarding donations, I feel a little weird giving a “donation” to something that isn’t an established charity or not-for-profit. Elizabeth, have you ever looked into setting up an official NFP? I don’t think it would be too difficult. You’d have to come up with a mission statement for your podcast empire, which it seems like you already kind of have in your head. Then just a bunch of paperwork. I after that mostly it would involve keeping good track for money coming in and out related to the podcast. Jesse Thorn did it; maybe you can hit him up for suggestions?

I’m a CPA, so I might be able to help with any IRS filings, though I don’t know a lot about 501(c)(3)s, which is what you’d be.

Plus then all your donors would get tax deductions!

Laura says:

RE: The outside dogs: I’m not sure if someone already says this but PETA (their office is in your neighborhood on Sunset) deals with this specific situation already. They have a program where they approach dog owners such as this and also donate doghouses and bedding for dogs that are left outdoors. They do this all the time and know how to talk to these people without offending them. I know they would have no problem with you contacting them about this or any situation where an animal is possibly being mistreated (they will look into it).

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