Annie's mailbox: Girl is sending me threatening messages

Dear Annie: I'm a 15-year-old girl who has been having problems with another girl for about a year. She's basically stalking me over the computer. I've received multiple threatening messages from her on MySpace. She says, "Why don't you just go and kill yourself already?" and that she is going to beat me up.

Her latest tactic: She somehow got my cell phone number and calls me from a blocked number. I've changed my phone number twice. I've reported this to the police, but they won't do anything. This girl has a record and she's not afraid to go to jail. What can I do to get her to leave me alone? -- Stalked in Inverness

Dear Stalked: Apparently this is someone you know. Many states are now enacting laws against cyberbullying, and if this is a classmate, your school should step in. Since the girl has managed to get your cell phone number after it's been changed twice, it probably means you have a mutual friend who is giving it to her, so you might want to look into that. Talk to your parents, and let them speak to the police and the school principal. You can also contact the National Center for Victims of Crime (ncvc.org) at 1-800-FYI-CALL (1-800-394-2255).

Dear Annie: I married young and didn't consider that my mother-in-law might feel she was intruding if she invited herself over, or might think she was stepping on my toes if she offered parenting advice. She cooked different recipes than those I grew up with, and I became angry with my husband if he mentioned that his mother "didn't make it that way." It never occurred to me to ask her out for coffee or to go shopping, and I didn't dream of getting recipes for those dishes her son liked so much. When we had kids, I never asked her to watch her grandchildren.

I'm now a mother-in-law and would love to be closer to my new daughter-in-law, but she doesn't have time for my side of the family. She was in town with my grandchild for several months while my son was overseas, and even though we volunteered repeatedly, she never let us baby-sit. We had to go to her parents' home to see the two of them.

I am so sorry I didn't make more time for my now-ex-husband's mom. I could have learned so much from her, and it wouldn't have been a betrayal of my own mother to make room for one more woman in my life. To all daughters-in-law out there, I know it can be hard and you'll grate on each other's nerves on occasion, but remember that she loves the person you married as much as you do. Give her a chance to be part of your life. -- Wishing To Be Closer

Dear Wishing: It's too bad your life lesson had to come so late, but there is still time. Call, e-mail or write a letter to your daughter-in-law. Tell her how much she means to you as a member of your family and the mother of your grandchild. Let her know you'd like to become closer to the woman your son loves so much. Be the mother-in-law you wish you'd had.

Dear Annie: I have a suggestion for "Frustrated in Elgin, Ore.," whose husband is debilitated by arthritis. Tell her to take a vacation to Arizona and see whether that dry climate can help him as it does thousands of others.

I know several people with severe arthritis who are now driving, swimming and walking on their own with relatively little pain. A friend from Michigan whose dog was so crippled from arthritis that the vet suggested euthanasia now lives in Tucson, where the dog runs around like a puppy. -- Arizona Vacationer from Wisconsin

Dear Vacationer: There is no scientific evidence to bolster the contention that those who move to Arizona stop suffering from various forms of arthritis. But if it makes a person (or dog) feel better, it's OK with us.

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