Dear Blake,

I am a 40-something single mother of two teens. A 24-year-old neighbor with a young daughter moved in next door a couple years ago after her divorce. She recently joined the workforce, and being a single working mother for the last year and a half has been a difficult adjustment for her. When she sees me outside, she comes over to vent. She seems incapable of just giving a friendly wave and going about her day.

I like to garden in peace. She has actually come into my yard, sat on my lawn and complained while I continued weeding. She prefaces it by telling me she doesn’t want advice; she just wants to vent. I don’t want to listen to her woes. I find myself sneaking around my yard trying to avoid her. Help!

Signed, Andrea
From Louisville, Kentucky

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Dear Andrea,

Irritating neighbors are the worst, because of the obvious geography. In this case, you should fight fire with fire, even if it burns both of your houses down. Anyway, here are some ideas. Giver he your phone number and tell her she can vent throughs texts only, and after she rants for about ten paragraphs, respond by writing “ok”. If she comes over while you’re gardening, “accidentally” shovel some fertilizer on her shoes. Or, the next time you see her, you should start venting before she does, and do not let her get a word in edgewise. If you do that often enough, she’ll consider you rude and selfish, and at that point, she’ll start avoiding you. And lastly, let her start seeing you wearing a phony hearing aid, and after she sees it a couple of times, stop wearing it in your backyard. Then tell her if she wants to communicate with you, she must learn sign language. My guess is, she probably doesn’t know any, but she might show you a hand gesture with one finger, that suggests she knows you’re lying about being deaf, as she storms off. I hope this helps.

Blake

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