Congratulations Vanessa Mdee on landing a new deal. More blessing your way.
Here are some of wallpapers for your phone. If you have more, feel free to share them with us in the comment section.
Kuelekea kuumaliza mwaka 2017, ningependa ku-share nanyi moja kati ya vitu vilivyonipa ujasiri/moyo kuanza mwaka 2018 kwa matumaini zaidi bila kukata tamaa au kuwaza vikwazo vilivyo mbele yangu.
Licha ya barua hii kuwa inahusu wajasiriamali wanaoanza, kwa upande wangu naona pia kwa maisha kwa ujumla inahamasisha. It’s worth reading.
Barua kwako Mjasiriamali Unayeanza, By Carol Ndosi ( @CarolNdosi ).
Salaam kwako, ni matumaini yangu kuwa Mwaka 2017 unaumaliza kwa kushukuru Mungu kwanza kwa uhai na afya uliyo nayo wewe, na uwapendao. Ni wengi walitarajia kufika, lakini mipango ya Mungu haina makosa.
Nitaongea kama ninavyoongeaga na vijana wengi tukikutana kubadilishana mawazo..Nitaongea kama Sister Carol.
2017 umekua ni mwaka ambao personally nimesikia vilio vingi sana katika fani yangu ya ujasiriamali. Ingawa wengine wameweza kutafuta upenyo wa kubadilisha ‘challenge into opportunity’, wengi wameishia kufunga biashara, kubadilisha biashara, kurudi kuajiriwa kwa wale waliokua wamejiajiri na wengine kukata tamaa kabisa ya maisha.
Mzunguko wa fedha haupo kama ulivyo kua miaka 2 iliyopita, na kwa wasomi ni kitu kinachoeleweka kabisa lazima nchi ipitie mtikisiko kukiwa na major reforms kwenye sekta za biashara na uchumi. Nilisoma mwezi wa 9 au 10 kuwa zaidi ya biashara 7000 zimefungwa ndani ya mwaka mmoja. Nilijiuliza sana ‘what became of all those who depended on these businesses all the way down to the value chain?’.
Nilijifunza siku nyingi kuwa ukitaka biashara iwe sustainable, uongeze value kwa kushirikisha watu wengi zaidi kwenye chain. Kwa mfano, kwenye biashara ya matamasha ambayo wengi ndio mnanifahamu kupitia Nyama Choma Festival, tunajivunia kuwa sio tu ni biashara lakini tumeweza kuunganisha supply chain kutoka kwa mfugaji, mkulima, wauza nyanya na tangawizi sokoni, wafanya usafi, watu wa maturubai, viti, meza, vyombo vya usalama, vya afya..the list goes on.
Ndio maana jukumu la kuendesha hili tamasha ni kubwa mno na tunaamini kwa miaka 6 hatujaweza wenyewe bali kwa kudra za mwenyezi Mungu na neema zake pamoja na support kutoka kwa wananchi na wadau wetu.
Nakuandikia wewe mjasiriamali leo, ambae ulianza kama mimi, kwa juhudi na bidiii na mtaji wako MWENYEWE, no offence kwa wale ambao wamekua spoon fed, tena kuna ambao nawafahamu ‘wameboostiwa’ lakini mafanikio yao ni kutokana na juhudi walizoweka baada ya ‘kuboostiwa’. But I honestly have issues with arrogant condescending pompous people who did not knock down their own doors.
Nataka nikusisitizie kuwa haijalishi mara ngapi utaanguka, au nani alianza safari na wewe akakuacha au umepoteza mali ngapi, cha msingi ni nafsi yako inakwambia nini kuhusu dhamira yako. Dhamira yangu ni kufanya kazi kwa bidii, kuleta maendeleo kwa wanaonitegemea na wanaonizunguka. Huwa najitahidi kama nina furaha, basi wanaonizunguka wawe hivyo pia. This pushes me everyday, together with what I believe is my purpose, which is to aspire to inspire.
Sasa nikueleze tu tuliyopitia sisi kama Nyama Choma Festival mwaka huu, ujaribu kuona kama unaweza kupata inspiration au motivation kutokana na hili. Kujenga brand si jambo dogo, tumejitahidi, 7 years in 2018 ; we are beyond grateful for the run that we have had. We have seen the best and the worst. Kama nilivyosema, miaka 2 kidogo kama nchi (false modesty) tumetikisika kwenye mzunguko wa fedha, hata wadhamini nao mtikisiko umewaathiri. Haya makampuni ya bia na telecomms ambao ni big spenders kwenye sponsorship wamecut down sana marketing budgets zao.
So kwa mfano, TNCF ilikua inaendeshwa kwa 65% ya sponsorship fee na 35% ya makusanyo toka kwenye kiingilio getini. 2016/17 imekua ikiendeshwa na operating capital ya kampuni, na mwenye tamasha pamoja na 25% sponsorship fee na chochote kinachopatikana getini.
Kwa wachumi mtakua mmeelewa kabisa ilihitaji turnout kubwa kuwa na turnover kubwa. Haisadii pia kama brand umeijenga kwa standard fulani kwahiyo scaling back itaathiri quality of the event. 2016 kwanza tukasema kwasababu hali sio nzuri, tunapunguza Dar editions from 4 to 3 maana purchasing power ya watu pia imeshuka..ma-buckets na ma-ndafu hayanunuliwi kama yalivyokua yananunuliwa 2015.
Anyways, tulipitia changamoto nyingine ya crack down ya mamlaka ya kodi, si kwetu bali kwa washiriki wetu. Wengi wa washiriki wetu ni wajasiriamali wadogo au ndio wanajaribu, chochote wanachokipata pale ndio kinampa nguvu ya kwenda kufanya kikubwa zaidi. Utekelezaji wa makusanyo ikabidi wajasiriamali na wafanyabiashara wote nyama choma kuwa na mashine za EFD, failure of which walichukuliwa hatua kwa kupigwa fine. Hii iliwanyong’onyeza wajasiriamali wengi na tukapoteza wachoma nyama na washiriki wetu mashuhuri katika kushiriki tena kwa kuogopa fine maana ilikua sio kukosa mashine tu, hata kama unayo, umejisahau kutoa wakakukuta hata kwa mteja mmoja ilikua ni fine not less than 2.5 Mil TZS. Iliwaathiri pia sponsors ambao walikua wakishiriki wanauza na bidhaa zao pia so guaranteed return on investment.
So 2017 tukabadilisha ratiba na kufanya tamasha la kwanza Dar es Salaam 29th April..siku mvua KUBWA sana iliponyesha in years. Ile mvua ilikua historical, na Leaders Grounds bahati mbaya tulikua hatujashuhudia mvua ikinyesha kama maji yakijaa panakuwaje. It was horrible. Palifurika! First event of the year in Dar,( shimo lenu la hela) and this happens.
On top of that media partner wa kipindi hicho alituangusha ilikua tufanye media campaign kabambe lakini hadi Jumatano kabla ya event bado tulikua tunatafutana na MOU…labda promo zaidi ingesaidia.We were devastated. Not just because sisi kama sisi tulipata hasara ya 68 Mil+ ( mind you hamna sponsorship funds tunabeba budget wenyewe hapo na mdhamini mmoja mkubwa), but sababu hamna kitu huwa kinatuumiza kama mabanda ya nyama choma yakibaki na chakula. Kwetu sisi hapo ndio tunaona tumeshindwa kudeliver, even if the rain was out of our hands contrary to what people used to say about us eti tunastopisha mvua..smh.
Anyways, dusted ourselves off, head held high and marched on….so fast forward the next event in Dar..again ndio shimo letu hili. Tumepiga loss in April, we have 3 events to do before the Dar one..tulifanya..ila kwa mbinde. Ikaja ya Dar ya August, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good either, ndio sheria ya matamasha ilikua imeanza kutekelezwa, ikabidi tuzime mziki saa 7…tofauti na saa 8 au 9 tuliyokua tunaendaga.
Tukapiga moyo konde na kusema let’s keep pushing, na tuwaze namna gani tunaweza endelea kwenye fani aidha kwa kuscale back au kucome up na njia nyingine ya kuwafikia wateja wetu. Tabata BBQ Fever was born, tukasema sasa tunafanya nyama choma kwenye vitongoji. Tukafanya matayarisho yetu ya Tabata, ingawa tulitapeliwa uwanja at first (si kwa hela), watu tuliokua tunaongea nao kumbe sio wamiliki na baada ya mmiliki kujua kidogo ikawa problem..lol..anyway tuliisort tukafanya set up Friday, Saturday event.
Come Saturday, event is ongoing..tukafuatwa tuzime mziki na kusambaratisha wanachi saa 4 usiku. Kibali chetu kilisema Saa 6 usiku ndio mwisho. Hapo tukawa tumeingia loss ingine, because kwa wale kwenye event business 2 hours is a lot and can give you 10 Mil Tzs easily. So hadi hapo ikawa ni loss after loss.
Bado tukaendelea kupiga moyo konde, tukapambana na za mkoani, Mwanza, Arusha, Dodoma huku tunaendelea kurecover loss na tuko na sponsor wetu yule yule mmoja maskini hajawahi kututupa #TeamGreen. Tukawa tunajipa matumaini Dar 2nd of December walau tutapumua. Uwanja wa Leaders ukapigwa marufuku one week before our event, with non refundable expenses amounting to 23 Mil TZS. Tulitoa tamko na kuwafahamisha wateja wetu, tukaomba sana ushirikiano kutoka kwa washiriki na wahudhuriaji maana kama nilivyosema, nyama choma sio ya waandaji tu, kuna wengi mno wanaotegemea jukwaa hili na ndio maana ilibidi tuappeal to the masses to save this.
Tanganyika packers was the only option lakini kama ilivyo desturi ya Watanzania, huwapeleki tu venue mpya, we saw this tulivyohamishwa toka UDSM to Leaders the first time. Tukajitahidi kufanya matayarisho lakini siku ya siku, masupppliers kutoka wenye mabati, mobile toilets, tents walituangusha MNO.
Washiriki wetu walijaribu kupambana na MVUA kubwa tu na hata baada ya kunyeshewa mkaa na nyama waliamka tena mvua ilivyokata na kuendelea. Kuna wateja walikuja mvua inanyesha wanatembea kwenye mvua kuja kutusupport. Kuna wajasiriamali wadogo walifanya wawezalo kutokana na mazingira ili biashara iendelee.
9 Dec jambo la msingi nililo kuwa najiambia ni ‘ I just want this night to end’. Everything was just going WRONG. Mziki ukazimwa na DJ aliyekua anatake over sababu aliingia kwenye mfarakano na walinzi katika kujitambulisha wakakosana lugha. IT WAS A HORRIBLE DAY. So another loss incurred, brand suffered. Kesho yake bado uamke uwaze ‘what is the next step?’.
Nimetumia wiki moja kukaa na kupanga tena mawazo na ARI maana yataka ARI kuendelea. Bado naendelea kujipanga na team, lakini ninalofahamu ni QUITTING is NOT an option. Leo nimeamka, mdhamini wetu #TeamGreen amepledge tena for 2018, lakini yabidi kukaa chini na re-strategize. At least thats good news and we are hopeful. I want to insist on these things, choose your partners wisely..kuna ambao tuliwategemea lakini wametuangusha vibaya mno. Some support systems are just there for material things and when you have something, We are not friend-less for no reason. You might have better luck than some of us. If you are a woman, Some support systems because of their sexism and male chauvinistic behaviours will turn on you when you don’t agree with their shenanigans or do not accept defeat..they will even go to the length of tarnishing your brand and when they fail claim you did not ‘appreciate’ them hence the retaliation. The other is resilience to keep going..kama hujazungukwa na ambao wanakwambia ‘unaweza’ inabidi ujiambie mwenyewe.
Some will just want to watch you drown because you were a good swimmer, so ‘kama alikua anajua kuogelea mbona leo anazama’ kind of mentality.
This happened to us 6 years down the line, and we were broken. You will fall, you will rise but you cannot STOP. Kama wewe unasoma hii sasa hivi na ulikua ndio kwanza unaanza au umekutana na misuko suko please, first know your purpose. My purpose is to use what I have to uplift others, and because of that I keep going…no matter what you throw at me, I will stand up and keep walking. GOD gave me a bullet proof vest that only HE can penetrate. Find your purpose and let it drive you! let it be the reason for you to keep going everyday no matter what.
Sympathy? why not for those filled with compassion and empathy will reciprocate. Only the evil spirited will mock. Tunaonewa? Hell YES! Walk in our shoes and tell us that is not true. It doesn’t stop us though! We keep pushing! Against all odds! Nilienda kuappeal decision ya leaders nikawa rejected na kuishia kuzimia mbele za watu..did I stop? No! Niliomba nionewe huruma? NDIO! Sababu this is bigger than me…way bigger.
I take my failures in what I do seriously because if I fail..Aunt Asia na Muhsin wa mabati amefeli, if I fail, Imani wa tents amefeli, If I fail, Abraham wa sound system amefeli, if I fail, G4S, JKT SUMA, POLICE wamefeli, if I fail, Aggreko amefeli, if I fail, Mabanda ya Nyama Zaidi ya 10 na wafanyakazi sio chini ya 7 wanaotegemea kipato hicho wamefeli, if I fail wote waliowauzia chochote hawa mabanda na hawakumaliziwa hela zao wamefeli, if I fail, watoa huduma wote wamefeli, if I fail, mamlaka ya kodi imefeli, if I fail my team imefeli, if I fail my family, my two beautiful daughters wamefeli, if I fail, my country has failed. I CANNOT AFFORD TO FAIL, and when I do, I CANNOT NOT TRY AGAIN. That is my purpose. All the best with yours!
🇹🇿 |Development Advocate|#GlobalGoalsTZ Champion|Feminist|MWF ‘16|Social & Biz Entrepreneur @MaMaendeleo @nyamachomafest @bongofesttz @thelaunchpadtz
People tend to push aside the vacation they want because of money—or lack thereof. By using these tips, you can save money and have the vacation you have always dreamed of.
Everyone has a bucket list—or at least a list of places that they want to travel to. Whether you want to visit the Amazon Rainforest, see the Northern Lights, go on a safari in Africa, climb and explore Mayan ruins, explore the pyramids of Egypt or hike the gorgeous mountains of British Columbia, you will have to save money. This often prevents people from doing what they truly want to do.
Let’s face it: traveling is expensive, which easily deters people from even considering crossing these places off their bucket lists. However, traveling to whatever destination your heart desires can easily be done. All you need to do is use the right methods to save for your travels.
Don’t sit back and let life pass you by while you wait, and definitely do not let your dreams and exciting things you want to do in life slip past you. Don’t struggle to fit travel in; incorporate it into your life and money plans with these easy and effective tips and tricks on how to save money.
1. Change stash
Having a system where all your change or even extra bills go is a way to ensure that you are putting money away every time you spend as long as you use cash. This method works wonders because no one likes carrying around change.
By doing this, you are also less likely to buy something small because, psychologically, you won’t want to break any bills or use your credit card for said item. The bonus to this is that you won’t even realize the amount of money that is adding up as long as you don’t touch it and you just put excess change and the occasional bills in. You will have a lot of money saved up by the time you are ready to count it.
2. Hunt for deals
Hunting for deals is a smart way to save some cash: why pay more when you can pay less for the same thing? When buying everyday items, it is a good idea to wait for items to go on sale, look at other stores that offer the same thing or use coupons.
The money you save on the necessities you are buying will add up faster than you think. Just remember to avoid buying items you don’t need. Similarly, when booking your trip, use sites such as Trivago or Kayak as they will also help you find great deals for your airfare and hotels with offers from countless other sites.
3. Luxuries vs. necessities
In order to save up for what you really want, you need to realize that there’s a difference between necessities and wants. For example, instead of buying new shoes, purses or clothes, save that money. Similarly, you can always pack a lunch with snacks, which will not only help you to stay healthy, but will also help you keep your piggy bank full. The same applies to coffee: if you can make it at home, then go with that because it will save you money and remove the temptation to buy it on your way to work.
4. Credit cards
These can be evil: you go to the mall, say you’re going to buy one thing, but then buy a whole bunch of items and don’t pay too much attention to how much you’ve spent. You then feel like you can keep spending thanks to this small piece of plastic, which really only wants your money in reality. Once again, this is where cash comes in handy: by using cash, you will realize how much you are spending, and will not feel the urge and temptation to spend as much.
The only benefit to credit cards is that you get benefits such as cash back or those that allow for cheaper flights thanks to air miles. Some stores also offer credit cards, so if you are going to buy something from a particular store regularly, use the card for that store as it will give you points that you can use for future necessities, meaning you won’t spend actual money on that item. Just remember not to spend money on items that you don’t actually need; acquiring points will take a long time, but it will also help with future buys and future plans.
5. Money challenges
If you insist on having Starbucks every day and not giving up that luxury, then challenge yourself every month to go without buying an overly expensive coffee for a week. Who knows: you may actually like how much money you save and might continue the challenge.
This challenge can be done with a variety of things, and is an effective method when it comes to saving money, making you realize how much you spend on certain things, and how you can continue to save even more money.
These tips and tricks on how to save money are easy and effective because all the money you’re saving technically still comes from your job and income, but it isn’t involving you saving money from where there is no money.
The money you would be saving comes from other places you already spend money, meaning it isn’t money you technically don’t have. All you have to do is save, and not touch the money you’ve saved up for travel.
Live your dreams, be happy and take the vacation you have always wanted. Do not let traveling pass by you. Use these tips and tricks to save for what you really want. If you have any more tips and tricks on how to save money for your dream travel destinations, feel free to share!
Heard it’s freezing in New York right now…I ate lunch outside today. What I’m trying to say is that New York is the worst and LA wins ALL THE COASTAL WARS.
This is the most insensitive transition in the history of mankind, but one of Doug’s clients received some bad news this morning. Health-related. She’s had to clear her filming schedule because of it, but I heard her make a crack to Doug that now she finally has a reason and the time to write her memoir. I think she would seriously document this. She’s Ron Burgundy levels of big deal. Can’t go into details over email so call me when you get a chance.
I’d befriended Gretchen on my trip to LA. She was Simon’s assistant, and when I was introduced to her I complimented her on her adorable cobalt blue booties. It had been the right thing to say, because she immediately invited me to lunch with some of the other assistants. Frank had plans of his own, and gave me his blessing. “You need to make an assistant network,” he said. “You won’t believe the valuable information you can attain from those relationships. Assistants are more in the know than the CEO.”
Here was proof of that. I read Gretchen’s email coming out of the subway and called her the second I had service. By the time I got into the office, I was dying to tell Frank what I’d just learned. Ignoring his dumb rule about not disturbing him until at least 10AM, I barged into his office.
“I’m sorry but this is”— I stopped mid-sentence. Frank wasn’t alone. His son, Nick, was with him.
“Come right in,” Frank sighed.
“Sorry,” I mumbled. “I’ll come back.”
“You’re fine,” Nick said. “I was just leaving.” He smiled at me. “It’s Josie, right?”
“Yes, it’s Josie,” Frank said, “my assistant who apparently can’t tell time.”
“Christ, Dad,” Nick said, “ease up.” Frank looked chastened, which I’d never seen before and enjoyed immensely.
“It’s actually good you’re here,” Frank said, recovering quickly with a smile. It was literally the fourth time I’d seen him smile. His son knew what strings to pull, apparently. “I was hoping you could help connect Nick with some of the editorial assistants, or any other friends you have in media or film here. My son,” he looked at Nick over the bridge of his nose, playfully disapproving, “is trying to decide if he should move back here after he graduates and I want him to make all the connections he can while I’ve got him.”
“I thought you said you couldn’t wait to get back to the East Coast,” I said to Nick.
“Well,” Nick shrugged, “it’s more like I can’t wait to leave the West Coast. It’s not for me. But I’m torn between here and Paris.”
“It’s where my Dad lives,” Nick said.
For a moment, I was confused—his Dad was right here in front of me, giving me the stink eye. Then I realized—he meant his other Dad, Frank’s ex-partner. I glanced at Frank quickly. He looked stricken at the mere mention of Paris.
“Well, no problem,” I said. “It’s humpday.” I swear if Frank was wearing pearls he would have been clutching them. “We usually go out for drinks to celebrate the halfway point. Give me your number and I’ll text you the details when I have them.”
After Nick left, Frank said to me, “I will literally do anything to keep him in New York.”
I didn’t know what to say. Frank and I have never really discussed our personal lives, and the desperation in his voice was shocking to me. Frank seemed to regret showing that card, because he switched gears, asking me why I’d “barged” into his office in the first place. We were back to business.
I told him about Gretchen’s email. “You’re never going to guess who the actress is,” I said.
Frank exhaled loudly and his nostrils flared like an angry bull. Why did I think Frank would appreciate even a modicum of suspense?
“It’s Jennifer X,” I said, quickly, and Frank’s expression turned on a dime. “She’s going to be fine. But she has a battle in front of her and apparently her Mom went through the same thing. But she’s estranged from her Mom since she first made it big—so she had to find her in order to get this genetic testing. Her idea for the memoir is to kind of weave in her upbringing with Mom—which is very dramatic—and how this disease is what ultimately brought them back together.”
Frank looked as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. He cleared his throat and said, “I’ll call Simon in a bit to discuss it.”
I nodded and turned to go. “And Josie?” Frank called when I reached the door. “Nice find.”
“Thank you.” I walked back to my desk with a smile on my face.
I put together an email with some of the Literatti assistants, and cc’d Ashley, Nina, and Richard. Richard had finally gotten a job, doing online advertising, but he was working on a start up sports website with a few friends and had even managed to wrangle up some investors. It would be good for Nick to meet him, and also nice to see him since it had been a while.
After I sent the email, Kate swung by my desk. “Was that guy who was in here earlier Frank’s son?”
“No way Frank’s swimmers are responsible for that,” Kate said.
“Yeah,” I said. “I get the feeling he’s either adopted, or he’s the biological child of his other Dad—who apparently lives in Paris?”
“Um, yeah he lives in Paris,” Kate said. “You don’t know the story?”
I shook my head.
“Josie, it was like a huge news story. On the cover of The Post like ten times over six months.”
“I read the Times.” I stuck my nose up in the air.
“You read Dlisted,” Kate said.
“Just get back to the story,” I said.
“It was one of the first major custody battles over the child of a gay couple in New York state. Frank’s ex is some Parisian socialite. They wanted a kid, and they asked their, like, Mexican actress friend to carry the child. When they split up, they both claimed they were the father. I don’t know if they ever did a DNA test, but it got so ugly the Mom ended up taking him back to Mexico with her.”
I collected my jaw off the floor. “For how long?”
“I think until he was eighteen. Then I guess he decided to come back here to go to school.”
So I had detected a slight accent. I’d just been off about where it came from. No wonder Frank was desperate for Nick to stay in New York. He’d missed his kid’s entire childhood. The realization warmed me to Frank a little more—no wonder he was such a curmudgeon.
“Well, even more of a reason for us to show him a good time tonight,” I said. “Imagine him coming home and being like, ‘Dad, Josie is the best and I’m moving to New York!’ Do you think I’d get promoted?”
“I don’t think anyone here is getting promoted anytime soon,” Kate said. “But if you want to stack the cards in your favor, I’d suggest not taking Nick to Flannerty’s.” That was the bar I’d told everyone to meet at—it’s a faux Irish pub in Midtown, around the corner from the office. It’s totally generic and lame but goddammit sometimes I just want to go to a place where people don’t judge my hideous commuting shoes.
I sent out a revised email and told everyone to meet us at Houston Hall, this newish beer garden in the West Village which, while not the most authentically New York, was that perfect balance of scene-y and laidback.
Houston Hall kind of looks like the Hogwarts cafeteria. It’s dark and cavernous with ceilings as high as the Christmas tree in Rockefeller center. Long wooden tables crowd the interior, black Chanel bags lining their benches. “Um, this seat’s taken,” some chick in a Barbour coat will say if you try to move her stupid overpriced purse to sit down. It can be very intimidating! But I walked in that evening determined not to take any shit. I put on my fiercest resting bitchy face and secured a good chunk of a table in a prime spot.
“I didn’t know places this big existed in New York,” Nick said, looking up at the ceiling in awe. Nick had met me and Kate at the office, and the three of us had cabbed it down together while our other co-workers took the subway. When we arrived, I refused to let Nick pay for the cab even though he offered and even though he can definitely afford it. Normally I would not take a cab from Midtown to the West Village during rush hour because the fare makes the big vein in my forehead want to pop, but I wanted to show Nick how charming New York could be and that morning on the Subway the guy across from me had been clipping his yellow toenails and nibbling on them like they were Cheez-Its, so….
“Yup,” I said. “You’d be surprised how much space you can get here.”
“How big is your apartment?” Nick asked.
“500 square feet,” I mumbled into my Pale Ale. Even that was a lie. Technically my apartment is 450 square feet and in case you were wondering, yes I cry every time I pay my rent check.
“Hello!” I looked up. It was Nina and Ashley. Nina was wearing a sheer sweater and no bra. I know this because at the height I was on the bench, I was staring directly into her nipples. I noticed Nick noticing them too. They were hypnotizing.
As I was introducing Nina and Ashley to Nick, my co-workers strolled in, Richard right behind them.
“Who did you have to blow to get us this table?” Richard asked as he gave me a hug.
“Always classy, Richard.”
“You missed me,” he said.
“Where’s the Gee Eff?” I asked as we sat down across from each other. Richard had a little scrub on his face, like he’d been too busy to shower or shave this morning. He looked good.
“Out with some of her friends. She might stop by.”
“Still in love?” I teased.
“Still trying to pretend like you don’t feel empty inside?” Richard shot back.
“Seriously, Josie,” Richard said. “I know. I’m the last person to take advice from on this. But I’ve got a few years on you so I feel like I can say it. I wasted my twenties dicking around, avoiding commitment. I thought it made me happy, but it didn’t.”
“Richard, you’re twenty-nine years old and this is your first girlfriend. Ever. You can’t seriously be pulling this smug couple shit on me right now.”
“I just…I can recognize bravado when I see it.”
“Well then you need to get your batteries checked because there’s no bravado here. I’m happy.”
Richard was about to say something else but Ashley plopped down next to me. “Um, are you seeing what I’m seeing?” She nodded to the end of the table. Nina and her nipples were in Nick’s lap. Granted, we were short a few seats, but standing was an option. Some of my other seat-less co-workers were up and milling around.
“What the hell is she doing?” I hissed. “Please tell me she and Brad broke up at least.”
Ashley shook her head. “They’re not broken up.”
“Can you ask her to go to the bathroom with you and I’ll meet you in there? I don’t want Nick to think I’m like, cockblocking him or something.”
I waited for a few minutes until I got up and made my way to the bathroom. Nina was washing her hands in the sink when I walked in. “What are you doing?” I asked.
Nina shook the water off her hands and leaned forward, examining herself in the mirror. “I’m not doing anything.” She smoothed a flyaway in her hair. “Frank’s son is a smokeshow. I’m not allowed to flirt with him?”
“Please don’t do anything with him, Nina,” I said. “You have a boyfriend.” Nina opened her mouth to say something but I cut her off. “A boyfriend who is kind of being douche, yes. But this is Frank’s son. Don’t toy around with him.”
“I’m just flirting, my God,” Nina said. “I thought you wanted to show him a good time. I’m showing him a good time.”
“Can that good time not be in your pants?” I pleaded, and Nina gave me award-winning side eye in the mirror.
On my way back to the table, my phone rang in my back pocket. I pulled it out—I couldn’t believe it, Ian was calling me.
“I’ll meet you guys back at the table,” I said to Ashley and Nina.
I hurried over to the entrance, where it was quiet.
“Hi,” I said.
“I know you’re still annoyed with me. But how could you not respond to that text?”
“The one I sent you. With the picture of us.”
“I didn’t get a”—my phone vibrated against my ear. “Hold on. I think this is it.” I pulled my phone away and opened the text from Ian. I suppose it’s not a huge surprise that Hogwarts would have terrible reception.
‘Packing and came across this. A few hours shy of #TBT but too good not to send.’ Attached was a picture of the two of us at a swim meet, rocking our green and white Speedos. We both desperately needed a tan and not that you could tell from the picture, but I desperately needed to do something about the woogie bush I was sporting underneath my suit.
I brought the phone back to my ear. “I can see why you held on to that. We’re just so…attractive.”
Ian laughed. Neither of us said anything for a moment.
“So I get in on Saturday,” Ian said.
“Oh, don’t torture me.”
“I have to work Monday and Tuesday,” I said. “I’m coming out on Tuesday after work.”
“Need someone to pick you up at the train station?”
I smiled. “Yeah, I do.”
I was still smiling as I made my way back to the table. It disappeared when I took inventory of the group.
I grabbed Kate’s arm. “Where are Nick and Nina?”
“Ow!” Kate said, and I let go. She looked around the room. “I don’t know. I saw them a second ago.”
I approached Ashley. “Please tell me Nick and Nina didn’t leave.”
“Okay,” Ashley said, “Nick and Nina didn’t exit out the South entrance.”
I couldn’t believe Nina would do this to me. I know she’s going through something with Brad, but she also knows how desperate I am to get in good with Frank. Yeah, he’s happy with me at the moment, but with Frank I get the feeling that you’re only as good as your last home run. My best friend using his son to make herself feel better about the rough patch she’d hit with her boyfriend wasn’t going to do me any favors.
I was afraid to text Nina what I really wanted to text her (‘You and your nipples need to get back here IMMEDIATELY’). God forbid Nick saw. To his knowledge, Nina wasn’t involved with anyone, and I wanted to keep it that way. I took a deep breath to calm my crazy ass down and typed out, ‘Hey! Where did you guys go?’
‘Nick was hungry. Just grabbing a bite to eat.’
‘Are you guys coming back?’
Nina started to write something and stopped. She started and stopped again. Finally, she said, ‘Probably not.’ Before I could fire off another text, she wrote, ‘Stop worrying it will be fine’.
I exhaled irritably. Those were some famous last fucking words if I’d ever heard them.
There is only a three hour time difference between LA and New York, but that ish did me in. By Friday, all I wanted to do was go home and spend the evening with a bottle of Pinot and this guy:
Love me some Keith from Dateline. I was in my neighborhood wine shop, trying to decide whether I should spend $13.99 on a corked bottle or $17.99 on a screw top (how can that be?), when I got a text from Nina.
‘What are you doing?’
‘About to get Mom drunk.’
‘You know, like how Moms get drunk. A few glasses of wine and they’re down for the count.’
‘Not my Mom. Anyway, Brad and I just had biggest fight. Can I come over?’
I went with two bottles of the $13.99.
Nina’s face was swollen and blotchy when she showed up at my door. I’ve seen Nina cry twice before. Once, when she accidentally missed the deadline for the study abroad program in college, and another time while watching that scene in I Am Legend where Will Smith kills his dog. This had either been a huge fight or a huge overreaction.
“What happened?” I asked.
“He’s fucking moving to Chicago is what happened.”
“He was transferred,” Nina said.
“Okay, well, it happens”—
“No! It’s not like he was transferred and it’s out of his hands. He’s been interviewing for the position for two fucking months and he kept it from me. He said he didn’t want to worry me unnecessarily in case he didn’t get it.”
“He said we’ll be fine. That lots of people do long distance and make it work. Fuck that.”
“Okay.” I handed her a glass of wine. “Lots of people do do long distance and make it work.”
“Do lots of people go behind their girlfriend’s back and interview for a position that will deliberately put a million miles between them without even telling their girlfriend?”
I didn’t say anything so Nina answered her own question. “Yes, lots of people do that. Lots of people who want to be single but don’t have the balls to break up with someone outright.”
“Oh, come on, Nina,” I said. “He’s not moving to Chicago to get out of being in a relationship with you. That’s insane.”
“I don’t think it’s the only reason,” Nina said. “It’s a good job and I know he’s excited about it. But he doesn’t seem too torn up about us being apart. It’s kind of like, well, if it works it works but if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
I didn’t know what to say to that, because I’d probably feel the same way. “So are you guys broken up?”
Nina sighed. “No.” She took a gulp of wine. “Not yet.”
“It will work out,” I said. “No matter what. It will work out.”
Nina rolled her glass around in her hands. “I guess. Anyway, tell me about LA.”
“Well, I’ve got a doozy for you…” I launched into a full recap.
“You should start like, The Ian Club with those other girls,” Nina said. “Like The First Wives Club or something. Plot your revenge.”
“I don’t feel like I need revenge,” I said. “I really don’t think what he did was premeditated. I can see how it just kind of happened. He’s gorgeous now…and really, like alpha and confident. I completely believe that those girls wanted to sleep with him because of that, not because he like, manipulated them or something. I was actually more bothered by what he wrote about them. But the more I think about it, I mean, is it really that different from what we do?”
Nina rolled her eyes. “Come on.”
“We sit around and judge the guys we’ve slept with and don’t always say the nicest things about them. Hello—Sad Dickie?”
Nina spit out her wine. “Sad Dickie! I haven’t thought about him in so long.” Sad Dickie was Nina’s nickname for a guy she hooked up with in college who could never get it up and refused to talk about it or acknowledge there was a problem. He was also unfortunate enough to be named Damien Dickie. I mean…it was just tragic all around.
“I guess I just feel like it’s worse when a guy slams a girl’s body,” Nina said. “He’s in more of a position of power than she is. Guys are just not subjected to the same level of scrutiny about their bodies as we are.”
“I know that,” I said. “I’m just saying…I get it. And you should have seen him that night—he wouldn’t make a move. I initiated it all. Maybe I would feel taken advantage of if he’d come on strong. But he didn’t.”
“That’s probably part of his plan too,” Nina said. “Play it innocent. Make you come to him.”
Nina was not the person to talk to about this at the moment. Her bitterpants were on good and tight. So I kept it to myself that Ian had texted me since I’d gotten back to New York. He was going to be in New Jersey for a few days next week for Thanksgiving. His exact words: ‘This is a long shot, but can we go out for drinks or dinner while I’m in town? I know there’s something here. Tell me to fuck off if you want but I know you know it too.’ I told him I had to think about it, but to tell you the truth, I was leaning towards yes.
Saturday morning I was on my way to a yoga class with Ashley when I got a call from Kevin. “Ummmm, did you hook up with Morrison and not tell me you little sloot?”
“Yeah,” Kevin said, “I went in to get my measurements taken and Morrison said my ‘friend’ is freakier than she looks, winked at me, and then all the other guys in the store laughed.”
“Well, I am freakier than I look but Morrison wouldn’t know that.” I told him what really happened.
Kevin laughed. “Well, that’s not what he’s saying.”
“Do you think I should say something to him?”
“It’s weird,” Kevin said, “I actually still think he’s gay. It’s like he’s telling people this story about you to prove he isn’t. But you don’t want to get involved with a mess like that, believe me.”
“I don’t even have the energy to,” I said.
“I’m totally going to hook up with him now,” Kevin said. “Closet cases are the best in bed. They have so much pent up sexual tension from not being able to express it in everyday life. It’s why I’m such a sexual stallion.”
“Right,” I said.
“It’s true,” Kevin said. “Now imagine the two of us together. Fireworks, baby.”
I laughed. “Go for it.”
“Oh, don’t you even worry about it,” he said.
We hung up and I hurried out the door to meet Ashley. I am normally anti yoga (the whole time I’m downward doggying I just think about how I should be doing sprints on Harlem Hill, getting a real workout), but Bess had told her it would help her work through her depressive tendencies.
“Wait, you’re depressed?” I asked.
“Josie, it’s why I’m always so angry,” she said. “Depression is anger turned inwards.”
“Shut up,” I said.
“It’s true! Even just recognizing that has made me feel so much better. I’m so much more patient now.”
“Really. So will you go with me, please?”
When I arrived at the yoga studio in Union Square, I was surprised to see how many guys were in the class. Lunks I usually eye molest in the weight room too. The few yoga classes I’ve taken in the city were composed of mostly women and delicate-looking gay men with slender waists I envy.
Ashley was already in the corner, sitting on a mat. She waved me over.
“I would have worn the yoga pants that make me look like I have a butt if I’d known,” I said.
“I know,” Ashley said. “To your left.”
I reached my arms up and yawned, glancing over my shoulder while I ‘stretched’ my neck from side to side. There were two winners in the corner, backs up against the wall, impressive arms folded over their chests.
I turned back to Ashley. “Mama likey.”
“You’re such a sick puppy,” Ashley laughed. It felt like forever since we’d laughed together.
“Hello, hello!” Announced a lithe women standing at the front of the room. How do I do yoga and look like that? “Welcome to Yoga Match.”
“What’s Yoga Match?” I whispered to Ashley.
“I think they, like, match your body type to certain moves,” Ashley said.
“Oh! I love that,” I said. Maybe that’s how you get a body like that, you tailor your moves to your trouble spots. Brilliant.
“Did everyone enter their names in the envelopes when they first walked in the door?” The instructor asked.
I looked at Ashley. “Did you do that?”
Ashley shook her head.
“Did anyone not enter their name?” The instructor prompted, and Ashley and I raised our hands meekly.
“Well, hurry up!” She said, motioning us to the front of the room. Everyone watched as we scurried forward, the instructor passing us a shred of paper and a pen, then adding our names to the envelope labeled, ‘Girls’.
I was starting to think the class wasn’t called Yoga Match because it matched your body type to the moves…
As the instructor began to speak, I realized I was right. This was Yoga Match, as in match.com, as in yoga dating and my worst nightmare not yet realized until that moment. Leslie, the instructor, pulled one name out of the ‘Girls’ envelope, and one name out of the ‘Guys’ envelope, and the two were introduced and instructed to pair off on mats next to each other.
Of course, Ashley ended up with one of the Baldwins we’d noticed earlier. The other one still hadn’t been matched up yet, and I crossed my fingers and prayed he would be mine when Leslie called out my name. No such luck. I got a guy with a greasy ponytail and a poppy seed stuck between his front teeth.
“I’m Benji with a G,” he said.
So….Ben-Guy? “I’m Josie,” I said, stiffly.
“It’s phenomenal to meet you, Josie,” Ben-Guy said. I glanced over at Ashley. She was too busy twirling her hair and batting her eye lashes at her Yoga Match to catch my death stare.
All I could think was, they’re not going to make us touch, right? That would be weird if Leslie made us touch. Leslie’s so not going to make us touch.
LESLIE MADE US TOUCH. First, we had to press our palms against each other and maintain eye contact for sixty seconds. You do not realize how long sixty seconds is until you are palm to clammy palm with greasy ponytail guy, him looking into your eyes all pensively like he’s fucking Edward Cullen or something.
I didn’t think it could get any worse but then Leslie instructed us to ‘spot’ each other while we assumed a downward dog position. Why do I need a spotter to balance on my hands and knees with my ass in the air? It’s like the most stable position ever.
“Would you like to go first?” Ben-Guy asked and I had a split second to decide which was worse—my ass in Ben-Guy’s crotch or his in mine? I decided it was the former.
I tried to imagine I was anywhere but where I was as Leslie instructed the downward doggiers to inhale and press ‘deeper’, which translated to Ben-Guy pushing his butt into my pelvis—nothing but a thin layer of spandex and mesh separating our goodies—and moaning with every exhale. This had to be the universe’s way of punishing me for not recycling.
At the end of the class, Leslie encouraged us all to share our information if we felt a connection to our partner. Ben-Guy said he had a ‘transient experience’ and asked if he could call me sometime. I mumbled something about just getting out of a relationship and needing to pee and fled.
I hid out in the bathroom until Ashley came to find me. “I need a shower,” I wailed.
“Oh my God,” Ashley laughed. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea I signed us up for this.”
“Please tell me you at least got your guy’s number?”
Ashley held up her phone and showed me her new contact for Andrew Engle. I would have held creepy eye contact with Ben-Guy for a million more seconds to see the big grin on Ashley’s face again. It had been too long since I’d seen her that happy.
“I can put in a good word for you with the friend if you want,” she offered.
“That’s okay,” I said.
“Jos, just because you don’t want something serious doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun.”
I could have told her the truth. Which was that I couldn’t stop thinking about Ian. But honestly, I was embarrassed. I’d been all on my high horse about Ashley and Tom, telling her she deserved better. She did, and Ian was in no way as bad as Tom, but still…. I made up some excuse about work being too busy right now. I wanted to explore this thing with Ian on my own first—find out if I could really trust him, if there was something there, or if the Ian I knew was really gone.
I couldn’t have been happier to see Frank’s face in the hotel lobby. That reproachful expression he always wears like I’m his teenage daughter and he just caught me drinking Malibu rum in the basement with my friends—I could have hugged him for it. He reminded me why we were really here—to do work, to find A-list clients with A-list stories to tell. Ian had just made me feel lower than a dog, and I couldn’t control that. But I could control how well I did my job, how much my boss valued me, and there is something incredibly soothing about that.
“Ready?” Frank asked, and I nodded.
Our first stop was a meeting with one of Frank’s old friends, an agent at CAA. The meeting wasn’t until 10 (“LA,” Frank sneered, and I didn’t dare mention how William used to get in closer to 11), and we arrived twenty minutes early.
Finally, we were ushered through a long hallway and into an office less spectacular than I thought it would be, given the level of talent CAA represents and the fact that we were in LA, where the real estate potential far outweighs New York. I mean, our office was nicer than this, and as Peter put it—we’re bleeding money.
Frank is a slight man, barely taller than me. We could totally share jeans if he was into that sort of thing. Frank had briefly mentioned something, a few weeks back, about having to share his Sag Harbor home with his ex-partner, which made me think his ex-partner was a man, but I couldn’t be entirely sure. I had these hippie dippie professors in college, together thirty-three years, with kids and a mortgage, who balked at the institution of marriage and refused to make it official. For the longest time, I’d assumed Professor Chiala was a lesbian, because she was always talking about her partner this, her partner that, until someone clued me in to the fact that her partner was actually Professor Leonard, my English teacher, the sweetest man who teared up whenever he read poetry to the class (oh, Professor Leonard!).
So when Frank hugged Simon, his agent-friend, and Simon asked him, “How’s your kid doing?” I was shocked. I had no idea that Frank was a father. He didn’t exactly have the warm fatherly thing going on unlike my dear Professor Leonard.
“Doing well,” Frank said. “I’ll be seeing him tonight.”
Tonight? Frank’s kid was in LA? His ex-partner, whoever he/she was, must be based out of here.
“This is my assistant, Josie,” Frank said.
I shook Simon’s hand before sitting down.
“So what can I do for you?” Simon asked, stretching his arms wide and yawning. “Sorry,” he said. “Late night. Had the GQ Men of the Year party last night for Matthew.” He yawned again.
I didn’t think much of that comment until Frank mentioned that he couldn’t wait to see Dallas Buyers Club. Oh, Matthew. McConaughey. I nodded my head nonchalantly. It’s not cool to look impressed but goddamnit, I was impressed.
“Well, we’re reinvigorating the imprint,” Frank said. “Focusing on big names who have big stories to tell. We’re strictly going to publish celebrity memoirs, and we want the next Open or Growing Up Brady.” He held his hands out. “Or, of course, High on Arrival.”
Simon laughed. “Everyone wants to find the next High on Arrival. But sorry, I don’t rep any actresses who have had sex with their famous fathers.”
“That’s a shame,” Frank said, and they laughed. I was starting to feel a little gross. I’d read that Mackenzie Phillips memoir—hadn’t she claimed she was raped by her father? Not really something I’m down with joking about, with two privileged old white dudes nonetheless, but I kept my mouth shut. The perils of being a lowly assistant.
“Here’s the thing,” Simon said, “you approach any celebrity, and it’s, ‘Oh yeah, I could write a book. I have an interesting story to tell’. They’re famous, they’re surrounded by a bunch of yes people, and I’m certainly one of them, and they think every word out of their mouths is so fuckin’ brilliant, when half the time I could take a nap using my fifty dollar filet as a pillow.”
I laughed, and Simon and Frank both looked at me. “Sorry,” I mumbled. “It’s just, I think you’re so right. So it’s our job to actually find the people who have a good story to tell.”
“I’ll tell you what,” Simon said, “I’ll put out an email to see if anyone on staff reps someone who even has the time to write a book. We’ll start there.”
“None of your clients have any interest?” Frank asked.
“They’re all tied up,” Simon said, already typing up the email. “Film schedules and whatnot.”
This was the reason why William shied away from A-lister memoirs. The odds of finding an interesting celebrity, one who would even compel a reader to pick up a book with his picture on the cover, and then keep the reader interested with his story, well, they weren’t that good. And you had to pay these people out the wahzoo to even get them to do it, and it needed an intense re-write when all was said and done because most actors can’t write for shit. It was a tedious process that may or may not result in a big return. William’s idea was to go to the people who were desperate for their fifteen minutes—they would do anything, and for not a lot, and those little lifestyle advice books? Or funny stocking stuffer books like Go the Fuck to Sleep? They did surprisingly well. Frank’s mission was admirable, and I would love to find the next Mackenzie Phillips bombshell confessional, but it’s not going to be easy.
Frank thanked Simon for his time and we collected our things to go. Once we were in the car, I was dying to ask Frank about his kid but I glanced over and saw the expression on his face, even tighter than usual if that was possible, and thought better of it.
The book reading was held at The Last Bookstore in LA, this cool indie book shop. The author was a former rock star, now in his forties, reading an especially moving passage about his battle with heroin. There was a huge turnout, and the book was good. It made me want to make Frank’s vision come to life. Because if I could be responsible for a book like that hitting the shelves, I’d be pretty proud of myself.
After the reading, Frank and I made our way up to the front to speak to the author and his management team. After chatting for a few minutes, I heard someone call my name. It was Ian.
“Oh my God,” I muttered under my breath.
“Friend of yours?” Frank asked.
“Yeah, excuse me,” I said.
Ian had texted me a few times that day, apologizing profusely, but I hadn’t responded. I had told him about the reading and where it was at dinner the night before— I’d asked him if he’d ever been to The Last Bookstore and he said it was a pretty cool place.
I made my way over to him. “What are you doing here?” I hissed.
“You weren’t responding to my texts,” he said. “Please, just give me one minute to explain. One minute, and I’ll leave you alone.”
I glanced over my shoulder. Frank was hugging some guy practically two times his size. “One minute.”
“I haven’t updated that thing in almost two years,” Ian said. “I stopped, because I realized how gross it was.”
“But when you wrote that thing about me”—
“I know,” Ian said. “This is stupid and so embarrassing to admit, but I was excited. I wrote it the way you would write it in a diary. Like, yeah! Going to happen.”
“Even if that’s true,” I said, “You, like, hunted down our classmates.”
Ian shook his head vehemently. “It wasn’t like that, I swear. It started with Nicole. We just happened to hook up at this Labor Day party at the shore. I was shocked—she was such a bitch to me in high school, I couldn’t believe she was interested in me now. Then I ran into Tara at a party and normally, I never would have made a move, but after Nicole, I thought, well, maybe I have a chance now. And it happened. And then again because we had shore houses in the same town that summer. I never like, made a hit list and checked each girl off one by one, I swear. I didn’t even want to hook up with you last night.”
“You didn’t even want to hook up with me last night?” I repeated, incredulously.
Ian smacked his hand against his forehead. “That came out wrong. What I meant, is that I was nervous. We are friends, well, we were. I should never have said that wasn’t true, because it is. It just felt loaded with you, and I froze.”
“But what you wrote,” I said.
“I know,” Ian said. “It’s disgusting. I don’t have any excuse for that. I was in college, or just out of college, and I was an asshole. Just a total asshole.”
I glanced over my shoulder at Frank again. “I have to go,” I said. “I’m here with my boss.”
“I know. I just…I just couldn’t have you leave without knowing the whole story.”
“I have to go,” I said again.
Ian nodded. He didn’t try to hug me, just hung his head and walked away.
I took a deep breath to center myself and went to find Frank.
“Josie,” Frank said, “meet my son, Nick.”
Nick smiled. He was about my age, and he towered over Frank. He had dark skin and I’m assuming dark hair, but he was wearing a beanie even though it was 65 degrees out. Oh, LA. I detected a slight accent as he said, “Very nice to finally meet you.”
Okay, so Frank’s kid was clearly not his biological kid, unless Frank’s ex-partner was in fact a woman and a 6’3 glamazon from Columbia or something, which I found hard to envision.
“Hi,” I said.
“Nick is getting his MBA at UCLA,” Frank said, proudly.
“Very cool,” I said. “In what?”
“Film and media,” he said. “I graduate this year. Can’t wait to get back to the East coast.”
“Well, we’ll see you for Thanksgiving,” Frank said.
“Can’t wait,” Nick said. “Anyway, I’ve got to get going. Nice meeting you, Josie. Maybe I’ll see you when I’m in New York.” He gave me a smile that despite all the drama with Ian, gave me an uh-oh feeling in my stomach. Even so, wasn’t happening. He’s my boss’ son. That would be career suicide.
These maternity pictures are amazing . Congrats once again Millen.
I hopped off the plane at L.A.X with a dream and a cardigan (this really cute camouflage printed one from H&M). I couldn’t wait to get to our hotel and crash. It was 8PM PST, which meant it was 11PM in New York, and I hadn’t been able to nap on the plane even though I desperately needed to. You all know how much I hate to fly—hates it, hates it—so I’d taken my anti-anxiety pill right before I got on the plane, and chased it with a glass of wine because the doctor told me I could do that if I still felt on edge and I always still feel on edge. I was feeling all warm and sleepy as we boarded, and fully intended on passing out the second I sat down. I figured Frank would fly business class and I would fly coach, so I was surprised when we were seated next to each other in the pedestrian section of the airplane.
There was no way I could sleep with Frank sitting next to me (what if I snored? Or drooled? Or had a sex dream and said something in my sleep like, ‘Ohhh, Ian’?). There was also no way I was renting the movie I really wanted to watch (Pitch Perfect) with Frank sitting next to me because that would be aca-awkward. So I whipped out my copy of The Luminaries (which is riveting by the way) and Frank raised his eyebrows approvingly. If I had to be awake, I could at least score some brownie points with the man.
Frank and I were staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which Frank actually had the audacity to complain about. “It’s a little run down but it will have to do,” he sighed. I have never stayed in a more luxurious hotel in my life but I kept my mouth shut lest Frank think I was some kind of country bumpkin.
I really only had two full nights in LA since we got in so late on Sunday. Frank and I had meetings all day Monday and Tuesday, plus a book reading to attend Tuesday night. The only night I could see Ian was Monday. He had made reservations at one of his favorite restaurants. I asked if that restaurant happened to be called SUR and sadly, it was not.
I slept like a damn rock and woke up at 6AM feeling fan-freaking-tastic. I decided to go for a quick run in the hotel gym, assuming it would be quiet at that hour. Silly me I’d forgotten we were in LA! Every machine was utilized by some woman who looked like a video game avatar come to life. I did some ab work until a treadmill opened up, then banged out three miles before showering and meeting Frank in the lobby for our breakfast meeting with a manager.
“Did you have a good run?” Frank asked when he saw me.
“I did,” I said.
“I happened to pop into the gym and saw you in there,” Frank said. “I was going to go for a little bike ride before I saw every machine was taken.”
“It’s unbelievable, right?”
Frank nodded. “Totally different world out here.” The bellhop motioned to us that our car was ready. “I like a person who prioritizes their health,” Frank said as he strode towards the car. Was that…was that a compliment?
“Thank you,” I said, not really sure if that was the right response.
Frank fumbled with the keys and we drove to Nate ‘n Al’s in silence.
It was a long day, but I loved every minute of it. We met with a lot of high profile agents and managers who represent A-list celebs. Frank had set up the meetings, and I was really just there to take notes, but I was asked for my input on a number of things and I felt like Frank was genuinely interested in my perspective.
Finally, it was time for my date with Ian. I actually do have Morrison to thank for the outfit I settled on—just a white tee, statement necklace, and dark jeans with booties, a leather jacket thrown over my shoulders in case it got chilly. Simple, not trying to hard—every guy loves a form-fitting pair of jeans and a tee, right?
Apparently the answer is yes because when I walked into the restaurant, I saw that Ian was wearing the same thing (minus the statement necklace thank God).
Ian laughed. “I don’t know who this is more embarrassing for,” he laughed. “But regardless, you look fantastic.”
I laughed too. “Ditto.”
He gave me a big hug, his hands low on my back, just grazing the top of my butt and I would have been fine skipping out on our dinner reservation and just going right to his place.
“I can’t believe you’re in my hood,” Ian said, as we sat down.
“I can’t believe this is where you live now,” I said.
“Do you hate it?” Ian asked. “I think New York will evict you if you say you don’t.”
“I don’t hate it at all. But I don’t know if I could ever live here.”
“I used to think that too,” Ian said. “I used to think everyone here was lazy compared to New York. Then I realized, they’re not lazy. They’re happy.”
“That’s so funny you say that,” I said, “because lately I’ve been wondering if you have to always feel stressed out in order to be successful.”
“I used to be like that too,” Ian said. “The East coast conditions you to equate happiness with laziness. It’s not true. I actually have a work life balance here. My office clears out at 6, but we still work hard. That was never the case when I was in New York.”
“I’d have to ask for permission to leave at 6,” I said.
“That sounds awful,” Ian said.
I shrugged. “I don’t hate it. I like working late. It makes me feel like I’m doing something important and urgent when I’m in the office all alone, even if it is just a stupid book proposal.”
“Well, when you burn out you can move out here and be with me.” Ian winked, and I thought my uterus would explode.
After dinner, Ian suggested we go to this piano bar he likes. We drank martinis and played footsie under the table for a few songs before he asked me if I wanted to get out of there and hell yes did I want to get out of there.
Ian lived in a very nice apartment building in Westwood. He had two bedrooms even though he lived alone and I just found this unbelievable. “Wait, how much do you pay?” I asked, as I gave myself a tour of his apartment. I realized how rude that was and apologized. “Don’t answer that.”
Ian had followed me into his bedroom and he laughed. “Another reason to move to LA,” he said.
I turned around and smiled at him.
Ian suddenly seemed very aware of the fact that we were standing in his bedroom. For the first time since I’d reconnected with him, I could see the old Ian underneath his newly curated bravado. He looked nervous…shy even. “Do you, uh, do you want to watch a movie or something?”
“Sure,” I said.
I followed Ian into his living room and kicked off my shoes before curling up on his couch. Ian picked up the remote control and I could see that his hand was shaking.
Ian has been nothing but confident ever since he reappeared in my life, and that confidence is incredibly sexy, but for some reason, this side of Ian—nervous and unsure—was even sexier. I’m not sure exactly why that was. Maybe it was because it made me feel like he really wanted me, that us sleeping together was a big enough deal that it stripped him of his cool-kid demeanor.
Ian sat down on the couch, as far away from me as he could get. “What are you in the mood for?” he asked.
“Something funny maybe?”
Ian nodded and started browsing through the channels. The Hangover was on and he looked at me.
“Sure,” I said.
Ian put the remote control down on the coffee table and settled back onto the couch. It occurred to me that I was probably going to have to make a move if I wanted something to happen. But I didn’t know how to slide closer to him without seeming like a mega creep. What should I do? Oh my God, this was so middle school. Finally, I came up with a plan.
“Where’s your bathroom?” I asked, even though I’d seen it on the tour I’d given myself.
Ian pointed it out and I got up to use it. I didn’t have to pee, so I washed my hands and counted to twenty. When I came back to the living room, I sat right next to Ian. He lifted his arm so I could snuggle up against his chest. Victory!
We sat like that for some time before I realized once again that nothing was going to happen unless I initiated. So I let my hand roam over his chest, again and again. And again. I’m pretty sure the only reason Ian finally kissed me was because if he didn’t, he was going to get a nasty case of nipple burn. But whatever, because when he slipped his fingers under my chin and tilted my head up, it was a good kiss. Before I knew it, he was on top of me, hands in my hair and pressing the entire weight of his body into me, and it felt amazing.
“Want to go in the bedroom?” he whispered.
I did! I did!
It’s been a while since I’ve had really sweet sex, and that’s exactly what it was like with Ian. Every step of the way he asked me if what he was doing was okay.
When he finally put on a condom and came inside of me he slipped his hand between our bodies and pressed his fingers against me. “Here?” he whispered, and I dug my nails into his back in response.
“I can’t believe this is finally happening,” he said, nipping my lower lip, pressing his fingers against me harder.
There were no crazy acrobatics, no complicated sex positions. Our history made just plain old missionary intense enough without all of that.
In the middle of the night, I woke up to use the bathroom. When I climbed back into bed and snuggled into Ian, I felt that he was, ahem, very much awake. Without saying a word, he slipped inside of me from behind. He wrapped his arms around my body and held me tight, rocking me back and forth, his breath warm in the nook of my neck.
I woke up to my alarm at 6:30AM. Ian was already in the shower—he’d offered to drive me back to my hotel in time to get ready and meet Frank at 9AM in the lobby.
“Hi,” I said, loud enough for him to hear me over the water.
“There’s coffee in the kitchen,” Ian shouted back.
Coffee sounded good. I climbed out of bed, stopping in front of Ian’s dresser to find a t-shirt to put on before I walked into the kitchen. As I was rifling through the t-shirts, I noticed our senior yearbook, buried underneath a stack of sweaters.
“Oh my God,” I smiled. I hadn’t looked at our yearbook in so long. I pulled a t-shirt on and sat back on the bed, the yearbook in my lap.
There was Ian, looking so awkward and gangly in his photo. I flipped through a few more pages, but some red scribble on Nicole Beddington’s page made me stop. Nicole Beddington had been the quintessential babe in high school. She was the star of her lacrosse team, tall and blond with absolutely perfect skin and bright blue eyes. She had a little mean girl streak in her, so we hadn’t exactly been friends. Next to her picture was a note, ‘Check, 9/3/09’. I wonder what that means, I thought. I continued to flip through and every now and then, and always on a picture of one of the popular girls in high school, was a similar note. On Erika Felding’s page, I sucked in a sharp breath. Written next to her picture were the words, ‘Check, 2/22/12, total dead fish’. I flipped for a few more pages and found on Tara Hunter’s page, ‘Check, 7/8/11 and again, 8/15/11, saggiest tits’. I quickly flipped ahead to my page. I thought I would throw up when I saw the words, ‘Will happen, 11/11/13′.
I heard the water turn off in the bathroom but I didn’t scramble to hide the yearbook. Instead, I just waited calmly until Ian entered the bedroom, his towel looped around his perfectly flat waist.
“Did you get—” Ian cut himself off when he saw the yearbook in my lap.
“What is this?” I asked, my voice shaking. I was dangerously close to crying.
“What do you mean?” Ian asked, innocently.
“You know what I mean,” I said. “These checks and dates next to the photos. The note next to my picture—’Will happen’, with yesterday’s date? Well congratulations, it happened.”
“That’s not what that means,” Ian said, but there was a flush creeping up his neck, giving him away.
“Oh really?” I slammed the yearbook shut. “It doesn’t mean that you aren’t making your way through every girl who wouldn’t fuck you in high school as some sort of sick revenge plan? And writing the most disgusting things about them? What are you going to say about me?” I tossed the yearbook on the floor and started gathering my clothes and my purse. “I thought you were my friend!” I yelled as I stormed past him and into the bathroom.
Ian followed me but I slammed the door and locked it. I got dressed quickly, and dug around in my purse for my cell. I called a cab and gave the driver Ian’s address.
“Josie, please open up,” Ian said. He was jiggling the door knob. “Let me explain.”
“Go ahead,” I said. “Explain.”
“Please don’t make me talk to the door.”
I sighed. Reached forward and unlocked the door, letting it swing open. Ian was so big he took up the entire door frame.
He hung his head. “I’m so embarrassed. It started out like that, yes. But then I got to know you. I liked you.”
“You already knew me,” I said. “We were friends.”
Ian looked at me. “Come on, Josie. We were never really friends.”
“Yes, we were,” I insisted.
“I was your buddy you talked to during swim team practice. You knew I had a crush on you. But you never would have considered hooking up with me.”
“I’m not obligated to have sex with you because you have a crush on me!”
Ian slammed his hand into the door frame. “You strung me along.”
“By talking to you at swim practice?” I spat. “That’s how I strung you along?”
My phone buzzed in my hand and I looked down. It was an LA number. “Hello?” I said. It was the cab driver. He was outside.
“I have to go.” I pushed past Ian.
“Wait.” Ian grabbed my arm. I glared at him and he let go. “Sorry,” he said. “Please. I can’t stand the thought of last night,” he ran his fingers through his hair, “and then, leaving things like this.”
“Even if you changed your mind about whatever this was? What you wrote about those other girls… saggiest tits?” I shook my head, sadly. “Do you know my ex said that to me once? I don’t even like to get on top because of it.”
“It’s inexcusable,” Ian said. “I can’t even believe I wrote that. I hate that someone said that to you.”
I had a lump in my throat as I turned to go. I didn’t want to leave like this. But I didn’t know what else to do. I’d always thought of Ian as a good guy, a guy who would never have sex with a girl for sport, or say something so ugly about her body. It was like the guy I thought Ian was didn’t even exist. And that made me more sad than anything, because that guy? I’d really liked him.
All the LA plans are in place and I’m so excited. Jessie Spano levels of excited. Also like Jessie, a little scared—the stakes are so high for the long overdue sex Ian and I are totally going to have. There is no room for error here, which of course means something will go terribly wrong. Like…what if we’re having amazingly intense, passionate sex and I go and ruin it by queefing or something even remotely human?
I’ll only be in town for three nights, and Frank even asked me if I have any friends on the West coast who I’d like to visit while we’re there. “We have a dinner one evening, but the other two nights are yours to do with as you please,” he said. Oh, I will do with them as I please, thankyouverymuch.
In the meantime, I had some business to attend to on the homefront: That wax I desperately need, laundering my favorite pairs of Hanky Pankies, and cutting out carbs so that my stomach looks flat when we try weird sexual positions, which we are totally going to do.
Oh, and want to hear something really bizarre? Ashley found a therapist…and she wanted me to go with her for a session. She said that her therapist suggested she bring in an unbiased friend who can provide an outsider’s account of what Ashley had just gone through, and she knew I would be brutally honest.
“I know it’s a lot to ask,” Ashley said, “but it would mean a lot to me.”
“Are you going to be there when I’m talking to her?” I asked. “I don’t want you getting all annoyed with me if you don’t like my version of things.”
“I will be there,” Ashley said. “But Bess said it would probably be better if I leave while you two talk.”
“Your doctor’s name is Bess?”
“Well, it’s Dr. Schweiger,” Ashley said. “But she said to call her Bess.”
I found this all very unconventional, yet also extremely intriguing. I personally love the idea of therapy. If I was willing to give up going out and shopping to be able to afford therapy (I’m not) and if I felt like I really had some serious issues to work out, I’d totally be one of those annoying people who is all like, ‘Well, my therapist says that…’ all the time.
Ashley had already seen Bess the week before and given her the general rundown about her situation. “I think she wants to hear about it from an outsider to determine, like, how I perceive things,” Ashley said.
On Wednesday evening, after work and before my drink with Morrison (so fine, I didn’t cut out all carbs), I made my way to the Upper West Side. Ashley met me outside of Bess’ office and we headed inside together.
Bess was in her mid-40s, with dark, perfectly blown out hair and a Cartier Love bracelet on her wrist. No wedding band. I always find it interesting when therapists who specialize in relationships aren’t married.
She thanked me for coming in and asked me some basic questions, like what my relationship was to Ashley and how long I’d known her. After that, she asked Ashley to give us a little alone time.
“So,” Bess said, “I’ve heard from Ashley about why she thinks she needs to be here. But I’d like to hear it from you.”
“Well,” I said, “I don’t think Ashley needs to be here more than any of us do, but I think it’s smart to look at yourself and see a pattern, and decide that you don’t like it and that you want to fix it. I’ve been there before.”
“And what was your pattern?” Bess asked.
“I hopped from relationship to relationship, even when I knew the guy wasn’t right for me, or that the timing wasn’t right.”
“You’d be surprised how much our patterns are a result of our blueprint, and how we were raised,” Bess said.
“I can totally see that with Ashley,” I said. “Her parents aren’t the most loving people and I feel like that’s the example that’s been given to her of what a relationship should look like. But my parents are awesome, so I don’t think that’s true with me.”
“It actually doesn’t matter how great your parents are,” Bess said. “I’m sure your parents are wonderful, selfless people who only want the best for you. They can still leave an impression on you that can be problematic when it comes to finding a successful relationship in your own life.”
We were totally getting off topic, but Bess had me hooked. “In what way?”
“Just a shot in the dark,” Bess said, “but were you a daddy’s girl when you were younger? Did your father light up when you walked into a room?”
I wrinkled my nose. “Gross, no. I hate that cutesy daddy girl stuff. Weirds me out.”
Bess just smiled.
“What?” I asked.
“Again,” she said, “just a thought, and I don’t know you well enough to say, but did you ever stop to think that because you didn’t get that adulation from your father at a young age, that now you seek it out as an adult through this incessant need to be in a relationship?”
I felt like I was drunk and someone had just dumped a bucket of cold water over my head. No, Bess, I’d never stopped to consider that before, but it made perfect sense.
“In any case,” Bess said, “we should get back to Ashley. But if you ever want to talk more about your own patterns, it could do you some good.”
And here I was, all cocky that I didn’t have issues. Apparently I was a textbook case!
I took Bess through my version of events with Ashley and Luke, and Ashley and Tom. The forty-five minute session flew by. Before I left, Bess pressed her card into my hand. “In case you ever need me.”
“She is good,” I said to Ashley, as we said goodbye.
Ashley smiled. “I know. I’m excited. I feel like this is going to help me turn over a new leaf.”
I gave Ashley a hug goodbye and we are not huggers. Then I made my way to my favorite wine bar by my apartment. Morrison had some business to take care of at Barney’s, which is only a few avenues from my apartment, so he said he would be happy to meet me somewhere in my neighborhood.
I was dying to tell someone about my conversation with Bess, and even though I don’t know Morrison that well, gay guys generally make good confidantes. Plus, with the crowd Morrison hung with, at least half his friends had to be in therapy, so he wouldn’t be that weirded out by it. A therapist on Park Avenue was better than the new designer handbag.
“Darling,” Morrison said, when he saw me. He pecked me on the cheek. He smelled like apartments that have washer/dryers and windows in the bathroom: expensive.
“I’ve had the weirdest day,” I said.
“Then you need a martini,” he said. He snapped his fingers at he bartender, which irked me a little (I was a waitress once and I just find it so demanding and rude). He ordered a drink for me, then rested his head on his hand, his beautiful hair spilling over his forearm. “Tell me.”
I told him all about Bess and her take on my ‘pattern’.
“One time a therapist told me that I would never find true love until my parents get divorced,” Morrison said. “They have a miserable marriage and she believed that I was subconsciously sabotaging my relationships because I didn’t feel like I deserved to be happy until my parents were.”
“Ohhh,” I said, “that’s deep.”
Morrison nodded and sipped his drink. “But if I’m really being honest with myself,” he smirked, “I think I don’t want to be in a relationship because I’m too horny.”
I laughed. “Speaking of…” I told him all about my trip to LA and Ian.
“Why didn’t you just sleep with him when you had the chance?” Morrison said.
I shrugged. “I’d just cut ties with my ex. I was all emotional and mixed up. I didn’t want to complicate things. But I feel much clearer now. Like I could just go and have a good time with Ian and not make it into a bigger thing than it needs to be.”
“I get it,” Morrison said. “So what are you going to wear when you see him?”
I laughed. “I’ve been agonizing over that for the last few days! I don’t know. It’s going to be warm-ish out there, so that kind of throws me off. And it’s LA, which has such a different vibe than New York. I feel like I should run all the nominees by you.”
“I think you should,” Morrison said.
I laughed again, then realized he wasn’t joking. “Wait? Are you serious?”
Morrison shrugged. “If you want me to. I love that sort of thing.”
I was feeling all warm and silly from the martini, so I said why not.
We paid for our drinks and made our way to my apartment. Morrison wanted another drink when we got there, so I poured us both a glass of wine and led him into my bedroom.
I pulled out my first choice, a pair of oversized white leather shorts that I’d snagged at a crazy good price from Ruelala, and a grey t-shirt.
“With black peep toe booties?” I asked.
Morrison shook his head. “Those are cute for like, brunch with your friends. But a guy is going to think that looks like a fucking diaper.”
He was so right. I took another sip of wine, feeling invincible. Man, I was so smart to get his opinion.
“Okay what about this?” I pulled out a pair of distressed boyfriend jeans and this cool white silk top that dipped down low in the back.
“That’s hot,” Morrison said. “Let me see it on.”
I paused for a second, waiting for him to leave the room so I could undress. When he didn’t, I figured, eh, whatever, it’s no different than if Nina were sitting there.
Still, I turned around when I pulled off my top. I was just about to put the white tank on when I felt Morrison’s hands around my waist. Instinct kicked in and I shoved him off.
“What are you doing?” I spun around, clutching my shirt to my chest.
“What do you mean, what am I doing?” Morrison grinned. He took a step closer and tried to get handsy again. I slapped him away.
“Aren’t you gay?” I asked.
Morrison’s eyebrows jumped halfway up his forehead in surprise. “Gay?! I’m not gay.”
“Oh my God,” I said. “Can you turn around so I can put this on?”
Morrison didn’t move so I repeated myself, much more shrilly this time. When his back was to me I pulled my shirt on quickly.
“Okay,” I said, once I was clothed again. “This is really awkward. I thought because of all the styling advice and the—”
“I work in fashion,” Morrison said, huffily. He delivered the word ‘fashion’ with dramatic flair, exactly the way a straight guy would. That is sarcasm, people.
“I thought you were interested in Kevin!” I said.
“Kevin?” Morrison reeled back, like what I’d suggested was so off the wall. “My co-worker was. That’s why we invited you two.” He held up his hands. “You’re not really my type, honestly, but you invited me up here and you were all on that kick about how you don’t want a relationship, just sex, so I thought that’s why I was here.”
I covered my face with my hands. “This is so uncomfortable. I’m sorry. You should just go.”
“Fine by me,” Morrison said. As he was walking out, he shrieked, “And those jeans are hideous!”
I held up the jeans and gave them a good hard look. He was kind of right. I threw them in the bag I reserve for Goodwill donations. I swear I will actually get around to taking it to Goodwill one day.
At least Morrison gave me some good advice before he stormed out! No diaper, no overworked jeans. Check, check. I set to work finding my new perfect LA outfit that would be sure to knock Ian right out of his hipster-y Chucks.