Monthly Archives: March 2012

WIW: Clouded, part 5

The first few weeks at Clouded go great.  Jonathan teaches me how to use Quickbooks to enter and pay bills, and create invoices.  Learning how to determine which of the nine companies each bill or invoice should be attached to is the hardest part of the job.  Jonathan doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp on it either, I get the feeling that if he doesn’t know for sure, he guesses.

Laura’s official title is Office Manager, but she is really Seth’s personal assistant. She was the first employee he hired when Sylvie started to taste huge success and has been working with him for nearly ten years. She’s short, shorter than me even, so she can’t be more than about five feet tall.  She’s got flawless skin and beautiful  long, thick black hair that hangs down to the middle of her back, for which she credits her Korean heritage.  I’ve been jealous of her hair since the first time I met her when I interviewed for my internship.  She comes in with it wet most mornings.  It dries stick straight, shiny and beautiful looking, regardless of how humid it is outside. She tells me my first day that whoever is the first one in each morning has to start the coffee.  Most of the time, that will be me.

“I don’t drink coffee,” I tell her.  I’ve tried, but never developed a taste for it.  I often think that if I did drink coffee I’d have an easier time keeping up with my schedule.

“It doesn’t matter whether you drink it or not.  The person who turns off the alarm starts the coffee.” The look on her face tells me that this isn’t open for discussion, so I pay close attention as she shows me how Seth likes it made.

Jonathan is twenty two, just six months older than me.  He and Seth never talk about how they met, or how Jonathan came to work at Clouded, but Laura once hinted that Seth offered the job as a favor to Jonathan’s father. She never said why. Jonathan’s baby face, short brown hair that sticks up in the back no matter how many times he tries to smooth it down with his hand, and the button down shirts tucked into chinos that he wears everyday make him look like a little boy dressed up for church.  He married his high school sweet heart two weeks after they graduated and has a three-year-old son who looks exactly like him.  Jonathan was hired as the in-house accountant for all of the Clouded companies but he had started doing some of the day-to-day artist management almost immediately.

Eventually he took over management of TheBrass, a band from California that makes marching band music sound cool. There are thirteen guys between the ages of 18 and 27.  They have a full brass section that compliments the typical drums/bass/guitar/piano lineup of most rock bands.  The key to their success is their drum line.  In the middle of their concerts the music stops, they each strap on a drum, and perform some of the most amazing sequences I have ever heard. TheBrass has been one of my favorite bands for the last three years.  As an intern I had hoped I would get to meet at least one of the members, but they are stationed in California and rarely visit Nashville.

He also helps out with the last three singer-songwriters leftover from the Sylvie days.  Working with young songwriters was her forte, and Seth let most of them go when he re-incorportated and began to focus on bands like Revolver and TheBrass.  Those left: Peter Jones, Ashley Johnson, and a rapper called, Blue Jay, have all had success as songwriters, but none are content. They want to be performers themselves.  Seth keeps them on because they have potential and they don’t require a huge amount of attention. Josh and Jonathan each pitch in whenever there is work to be done that can’t be delegated to an intern.

I don’t see Seth very much.  He spends most of his days in meetings with record labels and booking agents. Usually he’s in the office only an hour or so, barking orders at Laura and periodically asking other employees for updates.  He spends most of his in-office time with Jonathan.  I assume they’re talking about Shreds.

I end up sitting at the reception desk.  Nicole, who had been the receptionist, had been let go right after Christmas, but no on will say why.  When I try to ask about it, I get vague answers and the subject is quickly changed.





What I’m writing: Double dose

I missed last week, so I’m giving you a double dose this week. Enjoy, and please send me your comments or suggestions! (this is still very much a work in progress.)

If you missed the first two installments, start here.

“There she is!” Kelly, the front desk manager, sings as I walk through the front door of the hotel.  Ethan dropped me off, which is the only reason I’m coming in through the glass and marble foyer that receives our guests.  Normally employees park in the lot at the back of the hotel and enter through the back door into a dark hallway with hospital-taupe colored linoleum on the floors and the walls.  Kelly presses the button hidden underneath the marble desk she’s standing behind and I push through the always-locked door into an unlit hallway the width of the desk.  I know that if I let the door fully close behind me before I open the one in front of me it will become totally black, I will barely have enough room to turn around and I will have a claustrophobia-induced panic attack.

I pull the door in front of me open quickly and walk into what we call the “back office.”  It is a room about six by eight feet with a computer and combination printer/copy machine along one wall.  The opposite wall has a counter with a set cabinets underneath it.  Hanging on the wall above the counter is a series of square wooden boxes the size of post-office boxes.  Each of the employees is assigned one of these cubbies for their personal items. I toss my keys into mine.  My backpack gets dropped on the floor next to the counter.  Only on third shift am I allowed to keep it lying on the floor.  When I work the evening shift I have to keep it in the locker room. I pull my name tag out of my cubby, attach it to my uniform jacket, and go out to the front desk.

“Where’s Daniel?” I ask, not seeing my co-worker who was supposed to be finishing out the evening shift.

“I had him take his bank up already.  When he gets down here you can go get yours, then I’m out.”

On cue, Daniel walks around the corner followed by Simon, one of the overnight security guards.  He smiles.  “Hey sweetie, you ready?”

“Yep.  Let’s go,” I say, pushing my way out the door and following him to the elevator.  The money was stored in the business office of the hotel on the fourth floor.  Each front desk person kept their own “bank” an envelope of six hundred dollars, in a safety deposit box.  The money had to be deposited and retrieved by two people, at least one from security, so I had gotten to know all those guys very quickly.  When the elevator door closes Simon steps in front of me, backing me against the wall.  He puts one arm on each side of my head and leans down.

“How are you?” he asks nonchalantly, as if our faces are not just inches apart.  I look at his lips.  I can’t talk.  I’m afraid if I open my mouth I’ll try to kiss him.

Simon’s tall, incredibly hansom, and very married.  He was working my very first shift at the hotel and I made the mistake of asking Tilly, one of the other front desk agents if he was single.  Instead of just telling me, Tilly said, “Why?  Do you think he’s cuuuuuute?  Do you want to kiiiiiiiissssss him?  Hey, Simon!  New girl here thinks your hot.” I learned very quickly that working in a building full of beds made people act like seventh grade sex-ed students. My face had gotten so red I could feel it in my ears. He milked it for several days, flirting just to see how quickly he could make my face go red. I was very disappointed when I found out he was married.  Even though we had been working together for months now, I still could hardly look at him without feeling the color rise in my cheeks.

I duck out from under his arm and laugh as I shuffled to the other side of our three-foot cage. “I’m good.  How are you?”

“I’m good,” he says, making his voice lower than normal so that it sounded gravelly.  It was like someone had given him a list of everything that turns me on and he was checking each off.  He puts his arm around me as we step off the elevator. He pulls me close, and my stomach flips as he rests his hand on it.

“Simon!” I say, pulling away.  He laughs at my red face as he unlocks the office door and leads me to the safe.

“How’s Ethan?”

“How’s your wife?”

We stare at each other for a moment, an unspoken challenge passing between us.  We let it go, like we always do, and get my money out of the safe.  He stays on the other side of the elevator on the ride down.



“Good Morning!” Sarah-Joe says brightly as I open the door.  When I am lucky, she is just getting in the shower as I came home from third shift at the hotel.  When I’m not, she is snoozing her alarm every nine minutes for the entire hour I have to nap between work and school.  Today she is making breakfast. “Want some coffee?”

“No thanks, I’m going to try to get a little sleep before class.”  I kick my shoes off in the little kitchen, using my foot to push them off to the side, close to the washing machine.  “I’m going to wear those to school, so I’ll pick them up then,” I say, trying to fend off her instinct to pick them up for me.  She does it anyway, following me into my room with them in her hand.

“No problem, I know how tired you are,” she says, placing them on the shoe rack behind my door.  I stripped off my uniform and crawl into bed in my underwear and bra.

“Brad and I are making dinner tonight.  He’s bringing Anthony.  Remember, I told you about him, he plays in the guitar in that band…”

I nod my head, mumbling to indicate that I know who she is talking about.  I keep my eyes closed, partially because I really am that tired, and partially because I want her to take the hint.

Sarah-Joe is a Music Business major at Belmont University with me, and, as far as roommates go, she’s okay.  She resents that I don’t have to study more than a few hours a week to maintain my 4.0 GPA.  I resent that she doesn’t have to work to afford her wardrobe.

Our bedrooms are separate, but we share all of the living space in the duplex we rent.  She’s from Mississippi and is a true southern bell.  Her parents pay all of her bills, including her credit card.  They even deposit spending money into her bank account each week.  She’s constantly inviting me out with her friends, even though she knows I have to work and that I don’t have a lot of money. She doesn’t understand what it’s like to make a budget and stick to it.  When her bank account is low, she calls her father.  When my bank account is low, I try to get extra shifts at the hotel.

“So you’ll be here?  I really think you will like Anthony.” She’s moved farther into the room now, her voice is coming from somewhere near the foot of my bed.  I open one eye and see that she is looking through my closet.

“I’ve got plans with Ethan tonight.” Instead of thinking about Ethan, my mind flashes back to the elevator and Daniel. I feel a pang of guilt, even though nothing happened. In a half-asleep daze, I wonder if he’s happily married.  He never talks about his wife.  Maybe they’re separated. I can’t believe I’m thinking these things.  I have Ethan.  I love Ethan.  Right?

“Oh, too bad,” Sarah-Joe’s voice snaps me back to reality. “You sure are spending a lot of time with Ethan.  How’s that going?” She’s still looking in my closet, oblivious to the fact that I want to sleep.

“It’s good.  Do you want to borrow some clothes, or…” I let my voice trail off, once again hoping she’ll get the hint.  I’m raised up on my elbow now, watching her.  The coffee pop beeps in the kitchen.

“Oh!  Coffee’s done.  Do you want some?”  She turns around and acts shocked to see me nearly naked in bed.  “Oh, Addie!  Are you tired?”

“A little bit.  I’m going to sleep for about an hour before class.”

“Brad is on his way over.  Do you want to put some clothes on?”

“Not really.  Just don’t bring him in here.”  I turn over, closing my eyes again and pulling my comforter up over my shoulder.  “Please shut the light off when you go out.”

“Alright…” she lets her voice trail off.  “You know, I’m glad things are going well with Ethan, but don’t you think he’s a little old for you?”  I don’t answer or acknowledge that I’ve heard her. I know it won’t matter. Sarah-Joe is a master at the art of passive-aggressiveness. “You’ve been spending an awful lot of time together.  I really think you’ll like Anthony.  We’ll make some extra food just in case you change your mind.  Six o’clock.”

She finally leaves my room, graciously shutting the light off as she closes the door.  Ten minutes later Brad pulls up in his old car with no muffler.  He rings the doorbell twice before she unlocks the door for him, then they talk and laugh for a few minutes before I hear her “remember” I’m home.  “Sssshhhh!  Addie worked all night.”

“Sorry Addie!” he yells.

I open my eyes, looking at the clock.  Fifteen minutes left to sleep. I close them again and immediately fall back to sleep.  When my alarm goes off I stumble across the room to shut it off, then into the bathroom, barely opening my eyes.

“Addison!  Brad’s still here!” Sarah-Joe shrieks from the dining room table where her and Brad are sipping coffee in full view of the doors to my bedroom and the bathroom.

“Sorry,” I mumble, knowing we’re going to have to have a talk about walking around in my underwear later.



What I’m reading: Cutting for Stone

I read Cutting for Stone as a part of my second packet for this semester in The Writer’s Loft. This is my essay. I’m now about 3/4 of the way through, I’ll update after I finish.

Marion was conceived, it seems, through an affair between a surgeon and his nurse. A nun. Sister Mary Joseph Praise was Thomas Stone’s right hand in Operating Theater 3 at the tiny Mission hospital known as “Missing” in Addis Ababa. Their affair was a complete secret until the day she gave birth—and died.

The sight of Sister Mary Joseph Praise, nearly comatose and with a head visible in the birth canal drove the normally impressive Doctor Stone to near insanity. Rather than attempt a caesarian section or vaginal delivery, he attempts to crush the baby’s skull in order to deliver the fetus.

It was Marion’s twin brother, Shiva, that Dr. Stone attempted to kill. Hema, the midwife who had been away for several weeks, arrived and delivered the babies via c-section in time to save the children. It was too late for Sister Mary Joseph Praise. Despite the attempts of Hema and Matron, the overseer of Missing, to get Dr. Stone to acknowledge his children, he abandons them and Missing, never to be seen again.

Hema adopts the children and raises them as her own, taking Ghosh, the hospital’s internist, as their father and her de facto husband. The children are raised at Missing along with Genet, their cook’s daughter.


Verghese does a masterful job of weaving details of setting into the framework of the story. He inhabits Marion at each age and stage, at once telling the story as an adult looking back and as a child experiencing everything for the first time. You as the reader see the world through the eyes of a newborn baby, assumed dead, placed in a bowl off to the side while everyone works to save his mother. You watch your parents struggle to cope with your twin brother’s apnea and feel the connection the boys, who were born with their skulls joined by a flap of skin, feel for each other.

The details of the setting, Addis Ababa and Missing Hospital in particular, are laid out clearly, and each of the characters are fully developed. However, it is in the character development and setting of the scene that Verghese lost me a few times.

During the birth, which spans the first 109 pages of the book, you meet several characters: Thomas Stone, Sister Mary Joseph Praise, Ghosh, Hema, the Probationer, various people that were on the airplane from Aden, the plane’s captain and others. At minimum, these characters are given a few paragraphs of back story. Most, however, are given several pages. Verghese weave plot and conflict into the back story and switching from character to character at just the point that the reader stays hooked enough to slog through another person’s life story to find out what happened to the original one. In places, though, this method of introducing so many people so early on left me both confused and tempted to abandon the entire project.

My second issue with Verghese’s writing is minor and all but disappears once you move into Part Two (although I’m only half-way done with the book, so it may come back as Marion grows). His use of medical vernacular and terminology becomes a thick mud, getting my mind stuck on concepts that aren’t overly important for the progression of the story, making it hard to keep forging ahead. However, as I said, once Marion is born and begins to grow, the medical language all but disappears. I have just reached the point where Marion is discovering his love for the science of medicine, so there is the opportunity for it to come back. I am hoping that by learning it along with Marion as he grows it won’t become so daunting.

Finally, the last point to discuss in the first half of Cutting for Stone is setting. Verghese makes Addis Ababa itself and Missing Hospital in particular into characters in the book, weaving in information about the area, the scenery and the political climate of Marion’s youth. His language is poetic and he does a beautiful job of weaving Amharic and English together. In this case, the limitation is my mind and imagination, when I think of Ethiopia and Africa the images in my head are of tribes and photos I saw as a kid in National Geographic Magazine. I have a hard time reconciling the squalor poverty in my brain with a city of modern conveniences like electricity, a fully operational surgical theater, and paved roads for the Emperor’s BMW. Verghese may have anticipated this, because even after the setting has been well established he continues to add details here and there, filling in the picture.

All in all, I’m enjoying the book. I’m hooked to Marion now, I want to know if Dr. Stone really is his father and, if so, will we ever find out for sure? Will we ever see him again? I see Marion’s aptitude for medicine and am eager to see him grow in the hospital and where his life goes. I’m hoping that the person with the week-overdue copy returns theirs to the library by Tuesday so I can renew mine, if not, I’ll buy the kindle version. Verghese is coming to speak at Libscomb this summer and I’m planning to attend. Three months or so ago I listened to an interview with him and really enjoyed it.

Magnetic Paint?

Click photo to be taken to original

I’ve just learned that Magnetic Paint exists. Anyone ever used it? I guess it’s technically primer, so a lot of people paint over it with Chalkboard Paint. I love this idea for my kitchen. I want to do magnetic spice tins, I was going to just get a sheet of metal to hang them on, but this would work better. And I could make a weekly meal calendar, shopping list, etc., if the whole wall was a chalk board.

So??? Help me out! I guess it takes several coats, so it’s not super duper easy, but according to some reviews, it’s worth it. Yes? No?

After the storms

I finally finished re-photographing all of my etsy items tonight (see them here). When I went downstairs to upload the photos I saw this beautiful sky. Click on any of the picture to enlarge them, then you can use your arrow keys to go through the rest. Check out the little wispy cloud in the middle pictures– it just seemed to keep moving without going anywhere, like a kaleidoscope.