DEAR AMY: My friend and I have been close for the past five years, despite some distance — I have lived abroad for the past two years.
I am now back in the states, living with my parents and actively trying to re-enter the job market.
While abroad I got married, and it was around this time that I felt our friendship changed (she is single and very much wants to marry).
I felt our communication was getting a little aggressive in nature and the overall tone was turning negative.
I wrote to her about it, apologized if I was in part to blame and explained that I would like to continue to be friends.
I didn't hear from her for weeks.
When she did respond, she claimed she was "shocked" by my email and said that I must be "very disappointed" with my life (because I currently live with my parents and am unemployed).
She said this is a result of my "aggression" and "negative attitude."
I didn't expect her to take any blame for this situation, but I also didn't think she would place all blame on me and accuse me of being "unhappy." (I'm not!)
She said she would forgive me and that she would like to remain friends.
At this point, however, I don't know that I even want to be friends with someone who acts like this when confronted about her behavior.
Should I respond to her email, and if so, what would you suggest I say?
Or, should I just walk away?
— Conflicted Friend
DEAR CONFLICTED: Examine your correspondence. Is it possible that this friend is right about you?
If not, then examine her behavior. Someone who trashes, pities and then "forgives" you for no reason is passive-aggressive in the extreme.
You shouldn't have to prove that you are happy, successful and positive.
Functioning friendships ebb and flow — true friends should be able to hold up a mirror to each other and move through their challenges peacefully and respectfully.
If you are not the negative and aggressive person she accuses you of being and if you feel the friendship has no future, then the best way to maintain your hold on reality is to let the correspondence — and this friend — slide into the "spam" folder.
DEAR AMY: We are very annoyed by the noisy kids next door (boys who are 6 and 8).
They play basketball for hours seven days a week.
While bouncing multiple balls at once, often with several friends, there is screaming, yelling and a yappy dog.
The bouncing ball can be heard in every room of our house even with the windows closed. Unfortunately, it's loudest in our bedroom and master bath, which are close to the fence surrounding their yard and basketball net.
My husband has asked the parents several times for the noise to be lowered a bit, and things would get better for a day or so, but then it ramps back up again. The mother said we are the only neighbors who have complained. She said, "My kids deserve to play for a few hours every day."
We're at our wits' end and hope you can suggest how to get through to these people. We would like to be able to use our outside space without it sounding like elementary school recess.
— Neighbors of the Not-Neighborly
DEAR NEIGHBORS: Your neighbor kids do deserve to play for a few hours every day.
You live in an environment where houses are very close together. If you lived on a highway you would have to tolerate traffic noise. You live cheek-to-howl with little boys; noise will definitely happen.
You should ask this family to agree to "quiet hours" — no basketball before 10 a.m. on weekends or after 6 p.m. during the week, for instance.
DEAR AMY: "Lonely Team in the Burbs" described my situation. Like this Lonely Team, my husband and I didn't really fit in with any specific group of people.
I'd like to suggest that they try contra dancing — they said they were a little bit on the "dorky" side, and that pretty much fits the description of our dancing group.
— Contra Indicated
DEAR CONTRA: Great suggestion!
Send questions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.