Sunday, July 25, 2010

Between Jobs: A Novel is available now!

My book, Between Jobs: A Novel, is now available for purchase on! (click here!)

Here's a summary:
Fired from her first real job, Pam thinks it will be a piece of cake to find a new one. After all, she has a Masters Degree! She soon realizes, however, that she has a far greater task at hand. From committing massive conversational idiocy when first combating the question “So, what do you do?”, to contemplating her role in the world of work, to developing an acute case of “The Nasties,” Pam’s journey into this new phase of her life is never a dull one.

Based on the author’s experience as a budding young professional, Between Jobs: A Novel is a charming lemons-to-lemonade tale. Pam’s trials and tribulations, as well as her unique perspective and style, will leave you laughing long after you’ve put the book down.

If you would like to buy a copy (available in paperback and download), please visit my Lulu storefront. I hope you like it! If you do, tell your friends and/or send me a comment on my website.

Thanks for reading!

URLs for links embedded above:
Lulu Storefront:
My website:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heat Wave = Sleep Talking

So I've probably mentioned that I occasionally talk in my sleep. It's nothing like the Sleep Talkin' Man or anything, but it's there. And sometimes, it's a problem.

When it's over 90 during the day and over 75 at night, my sleep talking phenomenon is much, much worse. The other night, under said conditions, I may have given my wife a heart attack. She apparently took the sheet with her when she rolled over during the night, and then, quite suddenly, I pounced on her. I also said "NOOOO," gave her quite a look (through closed eyes, which is impressive), and attempted to steal the sheet back. Why I was upset baffles me because who would want to be covered by anything, even a sheet, in this heat? Anyway, she thought I was awake because of how coherent I sounded and seemed, so she was asking me logical questions like, "what, what's wrong?!" and "what do you want?!" Her heart was racing for at least another 25 minutes. I, however, was softly snoring within seconds. I don't remember any of this and was appalled to learn it the next morning.

Arguably worse, the night after that, I woke her up because I was yelling in a shrill, panicked voice, "HURRY NO HURRY NO HURRY NO" over and over again. She woke up and possibly turned on the light to see what was wrong. Was there a robber? Was our house on fire? Was someone going to win an Olympic medal if only they could HURRY but oh NO there was someone catching up? No. Just me, sleep talking over nothing. Sometimes, I wonder if there's something wrong with me.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

You stored your blood and malaria in my house, next to my yogurt. Thanks for the memories.

Do you ever fail to process something fully until days or weeks later?

About 2 weeks ago, my best friend surprised us with a visit as she was passing through Boston on her way elsewhere. My best friend, it should be noted, is a scientist. She can tell you more about cyanobacteria, herpes, and now malaria than you will ever need or want to know. When she stopped by 2 weeks ago, she was on her way to TA for a parasitic biology course and she was carrying with her some materials for her lab. Some of these materials included not-yet-tainted blood and little vials of the malaria parasite. I'm not going to lie to you, I was worried that we would all catch malaria and die. Jess warned that it sounded much like the beginnings of a doomsday film, where a seemingly harmless and minuscule event leads to the mass extinction of the human race. Even the dogs were concerned when she brought her bags into our guest room/office/room full of stray crap: They sniffed the bag and snarfled loudly as they tried to nose their way closer to the blood and parasites, presumably to get a better idea for these new, fine-smelling house guests.

Of course, nothing happened. The malaria slept nicely through the night in the guest room with my best friend. They even had a nice "meal" at one point, when my friend fed them to keep them at their healthiest. The blood slept the night away in the fridge, next to our yogurt. All was well.

And then this morning, I was somehow reminded of these events (I don't know or remember how), and I thought: Wow. Now THAT was bizarre. I thought of sending a text message to my friend saying: "Thanks for storing your blood next to my yogurt. Glad the malaria slept well." But, it being 2 weeks later, I refrained.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day! Love, your Recliner

My father's relationship with his recliner has always been intimate. For as far back as I can remember, we always had a recliner and it was never occupied by anyone but my father. Well, I shouldn't say never: When I had my wisdom teeth out and was woozy from the anesthesia, when I was sick and he wasn't home, and on other such joyous occasions for me, I was allowed to sit in the recliner. For me, the association between sitting in the recliner and feeling like absolute death was so potent that even when I felt fine and snuck a seating session, I started to feel mildly crappy within 5 minutes of sitting down.

My father, however, slept in that thing. Every night around 9pm, we would be gathered in the family room watching TV and I would notice a light snoring. Post-popcorn & soda snack and fully reclined, he would drift into a light sleep that lasted until he had to get up just to go to bed around 11:30pm. The recliner really had a hold on him, and sometimes he was very difficult to wake up. At first, my mother was in charge of this, but as it grew increasingly difficult, she gave up and appointed Sparki. Sparki, however, was easily influenced by The Popcorn Man, as I'm certain he must have thought of my dad. The two of them would sleep in the recliner until about 3am when Sparki could contain his urge to go outside no longer. My father, awakened by the Sparki shuffle, grumbled, took him out, and went to bed. This was their habit for a good eight years while I was in high school and college.

I keep referring to The Recliner as if it's a singular recliner, but I witnessed a string of about 4 recliners over the past 27 years of my life. Recliners, of course, have a finite lifespan, and in human years, my father's recliners were quite old by the time he dumped them. His last recliner (now he has multiple reclining sections in their new leather couch), was passed on to Jess and me.

Naturally, for the past 3 years with this thing, the time when it saw the most action were when my mom and dad would visit. My dad would resume his rightful position in the chair and ask us if we wanted him to make some popcorn (which usually meant "can you make me some popcorn?"). Then we'd put on a movie, usually a lively action movie at top volume, and he would promptly fall asleep. When my parents weren't visiting and it was just us newlyweds, Jess and I sat on the couch as the recliner stared back at us, unfulfilled. Jess avoided it because she wanted to sit with me. I wanted to sit with her too, but it was really out of habit and fear of impending nausea that I avoided it.

And so, after over a year of feeling uncomfortable sharing the living room with the recliner and intensely disliking the way it jutted out into the middle of the room the way it did, I decided to sell it on Craigslist. Perhaps this wasn't the best way to honor my father (and his relationship with The Recliner) on father's day. It felt akin to visiting Canada for Independence Day. So, as the buyer and her muscular friend took it out of our apartment (awkwardly and with much grunting), I played a mental taps for its final send off. I only hope it brings its new owner as much popcorn-related joy and good sleep as it did my father. Of course, with less nausea for anyone else in the house.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Big News

Big news: I have my own garbage can and recycle bin at my part time office job! These receptacles came with a bigger desk, too! Score! Wow, and it only took over 3 months. Maybe at this rate, in another 3 months I'll have my own key to get into the building. And then 3 months after that, maybe I'll have taxes taken out of my paycheck. Another 3 months after that, maybe I'll have paid sick days and health insurance tied to the old jobberoonie. 3 months after that, maybe I'll even have full time status and a 401k! Ok, that last part was pretty funny, as that's not likely to happen any time soon, but a girl can dream. Ok, end b*tching here.

I really am grateful for my garbage can and bigger desk. I'm in the same room (the suite preceding the executive offices), but now I have a totally different view. My back is no longer to the door (and my only remaining in-suite coworker), I can see when people enter, and my computer screen is not on display for the whole world to see. My new view really ties the room together; as much as something abstract like a vantage point can, anyway. I just hope a Chinaman* doesn't pee on it, but I suppose that goes without saying. Oh, and an added bonus to my new view: The floor where I sit is slanted and I have one of those mats that makes it easy for my chair to roll, so when I pick up my feet, I can travel to the left side of my desk with no effort whatsoever. That, and I feel drunk just sitting still. The potential minus, however, is that I feel like I'm developing spontaneous scoliosis the longer I sit there and try to resist the pull of the slant. But, despite the slant, I want you to know I'm trying to make lemonade out of my scoliosis-laden lemon that some Chinaman probably peed on when I wasn't looking. It's going swimmingly.

*The Chinaman isn't an issue - i.e. I'm not racist. It's from The Big Lebowski.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bring a cleaver? Ohhh spring fever!

It's that time of year that so many folks are fond of: Spring. Light green, blossoming, fragrant, enlivening spring. They think of 70 degrees and sunny, children skipping and holding hands on the way to some lake, baseball, spring cleaning, eating ice cream, wearing khaki pants and pastels, and other such things of a springy nature. Lovely.

In the northeastern US, we don't always have a stereotypical spring. In fact, where I've lived (CT, NY, MA), we hardly ever have one. Starting in late April, it's rainy and 45-60 degrees out for about a month and a half, breaking only for Memorial day (which is always hot...but don't be fooled, more rain is around the corner) and other select weekends. Then, some time in mid-June, BAM! it's summer. Just like that. All of a sudden, your khakis won't do and you are forced into suddenly summer attire. You feel unprepared, especially when it comes to what others will wear in public (ahhhh the return of the daisy dukes), but you're grateful it's stopped raining and smelling like worms and mud.

It's been so long since we had the stereotypical spring that I'd almost forgotten what it's like. This year, however, we are having that ideal spring. We're actually transitioning from winter to summer and having full weeks where it's just 65 and sunny. Children are eating ice cream as they skip to a baseball game in their khakis. It doesn't always smell like rain and mud and worms. My galoshes feel remarkably left out as I don my sunglasses once again.

But something has happened in this lovely springtime, the intensity of which was unexpected. My allergies have been absolutely ferocious. The worst they've ever been. I mean, they're usually pretty bad, as spring for me mean tissues, claritin, zyrtec, neti pots, sudafed, and the like. But this year, it feels like I've been rolling in flowerbeds, taking deep breaths and shoving pollen up nose. Or like I've taken a bunch of budding trees and planted them in my face. Or like I've fashioned all of my clothes out of freshly cut grass accented with sprigs of ragweed. I do look good in green, after all.

I won't go into what it feels like too much because it's not a pretty picture, but it suffices to say that the inner workings of all that allows me to breathe, hear, and see are both itchy and malfunctioning due to blockage. Gross! I know. But apparently only 1 in 5 people in the US suffer from allergies, so I thought I'd put this out there in case you are one of the lucky ones who does not. It's not just a cute little sneeze and then relief. "Oh my silly allergies, ha ha." No sir. I believe it's this misconception that allergies are just silly sneezes that allows people to conclude someone suffering from allergies must have a cold, because in reality, the symptoms can be the same. People see me blow my nose on the T and then move to the other side of the train. I want to tell them "Don't worry, I'm not contagious, it's just my allergies," but if I did it would sound like "Don worry, Imb nod codtagious, ids juds my allergies."

Communicating in general has become difficult, and not only when speaking to someone. I have whole days where my ears go on strike. For example, once when Jess was reading, she told me she had 20 pages left. I thought she said "funny pinky sweat." Another time, my friend and I were at a mutual friend's house. She asked if there was something in her teeth. I said, "Can I get you some tea? Why are you asking me, I don't live here?" The other day I thought my coworker called me a "F***Tard," but she was actually pronouncing "Spaniard" incorrectly. Yesterday, I thought I overheard someone on the T say, "so, did you hear no-tooth Nicole is having another baby?" I want to guess and say that's not really what she said, but because it was on the T, I can't be sure.

Most of the time, I'll ask for clarification in these scenarios. A simple "huh?" or "I'm sorry?" usually does it. But, if I can't make out what someone is saying after the third time or so, I just guess. If someone is telling me story, I do my best to mirror their facial expressions. I'm very good with appalled, astonished, excited, sympathetic. It's when they ask me questions that I get into trouble. Sometimes I'll say yes, hoping it was the right answer and in some cases, that it was a yes or no question at all.

In short, this allergy season, everyone around me has become James William Bottom Tooth.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Silent but funny

I work in an office in a room with 2 other people (and doors to 3 other offices, and a printer, and a postage machine, and now we're getting a little too descriptive). It's an open layout, so we have our own desks and work areas, but not so much our own cubes. Unless we are directly conversing, it's usually pretty quiet.

Some of the work I do can be mind-numbing (God bless my iPod). For example, there was a project for which I had to update contact information for folks by researching online. During this specific project, I came across several funny names, pictures, websites, and "professional" biographies.

One day, it was about hour seven of this nonsense and the room was absolutely silent. This was when I came across the man that changed our coworker dynamic forever: Attorney Gary Crapster. Yes, in my search, I found someone with the last name "Crapster." Immediately, I heard myself saying "Crapsteeeeeeer! What up?" in my head as if greeting Mr. Crapster, Esq. familiarly from across the room. Thoughts of crapster as slang cut through the silence and mapped themselves onto Gary personally, as if he himself were made from defective parts. I pictured him walking along rather mechanically as parts of his robot body fell off and clanged to the floor.

All of this happened in less than a second, during which I found myself trying to fight laughter, but, it being 4:30 and the room being invitingly silent, unable to do so. Laughter eeked out of my mouth slowly and in the form of that uncomfortable "kkkkkk" sound that happens at the back of your throat. I put my hand to my mouth, foolishly hoping that mere action could contain the inevitable. Finally, I let it out. I laughed into the silence.

I subsequently had to explain why I was laughing, and luckily, my coworkers found Attorney Crapster as funny as I did. (I mean, how could you not?!) Thus, the floodgates were open for moments of random laughing. Silence, as a result, became a deadly invitation for laughter. In fact, silence mocked me to the point where sometimes I find silence itself funny.

I'll be sitting there and, out of the blue, something that was funny five minutes (or days) ago will hit me again. Like the time my coworkers and I watched the SNL sketch of Justin Timberlake dressed up like an omelette at lunch. "Bring it on down to Omeletteville" will sometimes smack me in the face and dare me not to laugh.

Or I'll remember something funny that happened years ago. Like the time I cut up Jess's corduroy pants and made little outfits for Sparki and Emma. They looked absolutely ridiculous. And nothing would have prompted this thought specifically, but nevertheless, there I'd be, laughing uncontrollably.

Or I'll think of something that's neither happened nor is currently happening, but could happen. Like what if someone were to go into the bathroom (which is right next to our room) and start singing "The Star Spangled Banner" loud enough so that we could all hear it? Or better yet, Taylor Dane's "Don't Rush Me?" That's gold. Well, it would be gold, anyway.

Luckily, my coworkers are arguably just as quirky as I am and not only understand when these things happen to me, but often do it themselves, tripling the random entertainment throughout the day. The best part is, sometimes we explain why we're laughing, and sometimes we just don't. Leaving the laughter hanging there is enough to make the other 2 in the room laugh anyway, despite the fact that they aren't sure why their coworker cracked up. The way I look at it, whether the source of laughter is shared or not, it's a win-win and it makes the day go by a little faster.