October 31, 2013

Kind of a Big Deal

Ashley was in no shape to party, so I volunteered to take her back to my apartment and put her to bed. Nina offered to come as well, but Brad was there and he seemed really into her knee highs, and I figured at least one of us should get some that night.

Ashley wasn't making any sense in the cab. I kept asking her what happened, why Tom broke up with her, and all she kept saying was that I didn't understand. That I was so lucky, and I didn't understand. "What don't I understand?" I demanded. My good Samaritan patience was wearing thin.

"You just don't," she sniffled.

I got her upstairs and in my bed and then collapsed on my couch with a bowl of Halloween candy and a glass of wine. So my night wasn't a total bust.

In the morning, I finally got the whole story: Tom's sister found out about their 'incident' (I visibly gulped when Ashley told me this). Tom thought he could trust Ashley to keep their private business private, but clearly she was too immature to do that. So he ended it.

I'd been meaning to tell Ashley about my conversation with Isabel, but she hadn't responded to any of my texts after the party. I could have called, I guess, pushed a little harder. But I did try.

"Okay," I said, "first of all, you are not immature for telling people what happened. You were smart. Victims of domestic violence are usually—"

"Jesus, enough with the domestic violence crap," Ashley groaned. She was sitting on my couch, her legs tucked underneath her and a big bottle of water balanced in her lap. "I was not a 'victim' of 'domestic violence'. We had an argument that got a little heated. I pushed him first—does that make Tom a victim?"

"Okay, Ash," I said, "I have to tell you something and you're not going to like it." I took her through my conversation with Tom's sister. When I finished, Ashley laughed softly and shook her head.

"I knew you'd find a way to involve yourself in this," Ashley said. "You couldn't have just removed yourself from the situation, like Nina. You had to stay and insert yourself because you can't stand when people don't do things exactly the way you think they should be done."

"Are you fucking kidding me?" I said. "Nina bailed on you and I stood by your side—I was your only freaking friend at your engagement party, and I blew off my plans last night to take you home—and I'm the one you're mad at?"

"It's like you're incapable of doing nice things out of the goodness of your heart. You do them so you can hold them over my head!" Ashley said.

I took a deep breath. "Seriously, Ash? You may not like how I handled things, but I handled it the best I could. Sorry it wasn't good enough for you." I shook my head. "I think you should go."

Ashley's eyes welled up with tears. "Oh my God, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm such an idiot." She buried her head in her hands and her shoulders started to shake. We just sat there in silence for a long time. Ashley is one of my oldest friends, and we've been through a lot together, but sometimes I just don't know how much more this friendship can weather. As much as it pains me to say it, Ashley becomes more like her mother every day. Just a difficult person to be around. Someone who doesn't believe it's possible to really be happy. Someone who is always so suspicious of people and their motives. I'm no saint, but God that can wear on you.

So that was the rest of my weekend. Fun times! And I was so nervous to meet my new boss on Monday that I barely slept on Sunday night. I got in at my usual time, 830AM, about half an hour before everyone else. Right away, I noticed the light underneath William—I mean Frank's—door. Evidently, my new boss is an early bird too.

I dropped my things by my desk and pinched my shoulder blades together. First impressions are everything and good posture is one way to make a good one (Thanks for that lesson, Mom!). Plus, as a short person, it gives the illusion of another inch or two.

I knocked on the door and Frank called me inside. "Hi, Frank?" I said. "I'm Josie."

Frank was sitting at his computer and he stopped typing to give me a look like, who are you and what are you doing in here?

"Your assistant," I said.

"Right," he said. "Hi."

Frank was a good ten years older and fifty pounds slimmer than William. He had stark white hair, delicate looking glasses, and he was wearing a bow tie my Mom would have described as 'spiffy-looking'. He was also not a fan of a smile or speaking, apparently.

"So I just thought I would introduce myself since we'll be working together," I added, lamely. "Is there anything I should get started on today?"

Frank went back to typing. "Not right now," he said so quietly I almost didn't hear him.

Alrighty then! I stuck my tail between my legs and headed back to my desk.

Around 11, Frank finally emerged from his office and asked me to come and talk to him.

"So the first thing you should know about me is that I don't like to be disturbed in the morning, because that's when I'm in my flow," Frank said.

"Noted!" I said.

"The second thing you should know about me is that I don't do email," Frank said.

"Okay," I said. "How do you...I mean, how should I...I mean, how do you communicate with your assistants?"

"Exactly how mankind has been doing for millions of years and how we're doing right now," Frank said. "We talk."

I nodded. "Okay. I mean, that sounds great actually."

"Tell me about you," Frank said. I realized I still hadn't seen him smile yet.

"What do you mean?'

"I mean, what are your hobbies? Where are you from? What's your favorite book?"

"Um, I'm from New Jersey," I said, feeling like I was on the worst first date in the world. "And, I like to run. And read and write."

"Who are you favorite authors?" Frank asked.

"Um, I've loved Gillian Flynn since before she was Gillian Flynn. Her first book is still my favorite." Frank grimaced, so I quickly added, "but I also love, like, Donna Tartt, Jeffrey Eugenides," the grimace was slowly disappearing from Frank's face so I kept going, "and Louise Erdrich and Elizabeth Strout. Oh, and Alice Munro."

"Isn't it wonderful that she finally won?" Frank said, referring to her recent Nobel Prize get.

I nodded feverishly. "It is." I once read a tip in an advice book written by a body language expert that Frank would certainly turn his nose up at, and it said that mimicking others either by copying their mannerisms or language is one way to get them to like you. "Really wonderful," I added.

"So here's my question," Frank said, "it seems like you are a well-read young lady. So why," Frank spun in his chair and picked up a pile of manuscripts William hadn't taken with him, "are you pushing this crap." His desk shook as he slammed the pile down in front of him.

"Um, it's cheap. And fast. And people buy them," I said.

"You know what I think?" Frank said. "I think people want good, quality books. I don't want to read something by some downmarket blogger who thinks she's Lauren Conrad. I don't even want to read anything by Lauren Conrad." He snickered. "Not like she actually writes herself. I want to read about Michael Douglas's triumph with cancer, or Lance Armstrong's fall from grace, in his own words. Quality, interesting stuff."

"I mean, I'd love to read that," I said.

"So why haven't you gone after those people?"

Because William holds the complete opposite viewpoint that you do. He doesn't think people want quality. He thinks they want quantity, the fluffier and easier to digest the better. "That just wasn't the direction I was told to take," I said, trying to be diplomatic.

"What if that's the direction I want you to take?" Frank said.

"I'm game," I said.

Frank smiled for the first time since I'd met him. "Good."

Frank reminded me of Megan—serious, committed to maintaining the integrity of the book industry. I don't know if I've been drinking the William kool-aid for too long, or if this is what I genuinely believe, but it seems like a lost cause to me. A noble one, and one I'd prefer to pursue over what I was doing with William if money weren't an issue. Of course I'd prefer to work with more elevated writers, truly accomplished people who are talented and have great stories to tell, over the 'writers' I was currently working with. Every single one of those bloggers and YouTube personalities needs a ghost writer, and it's a freaking joke. But when it comes down to what sells and what doesn't, a quality book by a reputable writer just doesn't sell as well as an easy read. Not only that, but it takes longer to produce, and it costs more money to produce. It may be what I prefer to read in my downtime, but if I ever want to make money in this industry, it seemed like the only way to do that was to do it William's way. William was a business man, whereas people like Frank and Megan? They're crusaders. They're in it because they're passionate about what they do. I'd love to be able to be passionate about what I do and pay New York City rent, but it doesn't always pan out that way.

When I met William for dinner a few nights later, he was on me like Amanda Bynes on Drake about what direction Frank was taking the company in. It was uncomfortable—I need to play both sides of this, and I don't want to alienate William or betray Frank's confidence, since he is my boss now.

"He wants to go more upmarket," I said. "He wants to reclaim the era of the writer. Back before the Internet was so ubiquitous and not everyone could be a writer."

William snorted. "How idealistic." He pointed his fork at me. It was shiny with the grease from his steak. We were at the Bobby Van's in Midtown, and the entire staff knew William by name.  "I can't wait to see this yo-yo crash and burn."

I shrugged. "Maybe people are fatigued by all the crap out there. Maybe this works."

William laughed. "He's gotten to you already. Listen, there is always something to be learned from a new boss. Even if you hate him and you don't agree with the way he handles his business at all." He went back to sawing his fillet. "So take what you can from him. When I make a move, you know my door is always open for you. But," he shrugged, "maybe you decide not to walk through it."

He was testing me. "Of course I want to go with you wherever you end up," I reaffirmed.

William grinned. His teeth were purple from the wine. "Good."

After dinner, I decided to walk home. Halfway there, Richard, of all people, texted me. 'I'm in your hood. Come to this Halloween party I'm at.'

'I don't have a costume,' I wrote.

'Of course you do, you're a dick tease,' he said, followed by a smiley face emoticon.

'You're such an asshole,' I wrote back. 'Where?'

The bar was three blocks from my apartment, so I decided to stop by for a drink. I hadn't seen Richard since that night in my apartment, when I'd thrown that Social Media viewing party. It had only been for a few minutes because he had a date, and that had been weeks ago.

I showed my ID to the bouncer at the door, who was dressed as a SWAT team member. The bar was crowded and smelled like boy. I chalked it up to all of the guys, overheated and sweating in their costumes.

I finally spotted Richard. He was dressed as Ron Burgundy from Anchorman. It was actually a great costume for him because he's so tall and lanky. I was glad to see he'd put on a little weight since the last time we saw each other. He'd been looking a little gaunt.

"Josie!" Richard said, and waved me over.

"You look awesome," I said.

"Well," Richard leaned in close, "I am kind of a big deal."

I laughed.

"Oh and meet my co-anchor, Veronica Corningstone." Richard gestured to a petite blond, who was dressed up as the Christina Applegate character.

"I'm Sam," she said, and extended her hand.

"Josie," I said.

Sam turned to Richard. "Babe, I'm getting a drink. You want anything?"

"Scotch!" Richard said.

"Right," she said. "You?"

"Um, whatever you're having," I said.

"Be right back!" Sam turned on her heel and practically skipped off.

"She's cute!" I said to Richard.

"I'm really happy," Richard beamed. "I wanted you to meet her. Your approval means a lot to me."

I searched his face for any sign that he might be putting it on, but he appeared totally earnest. "I'm happy for you," I said, and I meant it.

I only stayed for a little bit. Frankly, it wasn't the most comfortable thing in the world to play third wheel to a couple still in their honeymoon stage. I am happy for Richard, but my gag reflex operates on another level than my emotional compass.

On my short walk home, I called Nina to tell her about Richard and his rapid fire 180. She didn't pick up, so I ended the call and moved on to Ashley. Then I remembered, Ashley and I weren't exactly speaking right now. It had been four days since she'd left my apartment, and I hadn't heard from her since. I stared at her name on my phone a little longer, contemplating calling her anyway. Then I stuffed my phone back in my purse. I was tired of chasing after Ashley. Tired of her accusations that I'm the bad friend. If we were going to talk again, she had to come to me.

29 comments:

  1. I'm so sick of Ashley. I understand how Josie feels, honestly. I don't think she was trying to insert herself into the situation at all, but things like that come out sometimes. And it's not like she ruined a good surprise or anything; I can't imagine that the incident between Ashley and Tom never would have repeated itself if they stayed together. I just hope she doesn't go crying back to him now that she's pissed Josie off, too. Ashley has been a nightmare of a friend for practically this whole blog.

    I love these posts so much, Thanks Jess.

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  2. Even though this isn't what Ashley needs right now, there was only so much Josie could do & so much she could take as a person. Ashley clearly is lost, has issues, & needs help but it'll only work if she's willing/wanting to get better.


    Moving on, it's good that Josie recognizes a poisonous relationship & has the strength to cut it out just like she didn't leave with Justin. Also her coming to terms with Justin being a bro & not good for her.

    It's going to be interesting to see how this new boss & William thing plays out. Definitely nice to see a smarter side of Josie, it goes along with how much she has gotten to know herself in terms of the career she wants or the person she wants to be in her workplace.

    Basically good development professionally & emotionally. I'm curious to see if she heads from that doctor or runs into him again, although I know it's not likely.

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  3. First I love this blog, it is so entertaining and well written. Thanks, Jessica. Now onto today's post, I'm guessing my take will be in the minority but here goes. I sympathize with Ashley, it's not like some random guy turned her down for a date, her fiance - albeit a shitty man - broke it off with her. Her heart is broken and she lashes out at Josie. Who's best friend throws it in their face that they broke plans to take them home? I was taught that if you do something nice for someone and have to talk about it you didn't do it for the right reason. I'm not saying Josie is a bad friend but for once put yourself in someone else's position. Ashley has been through a lot and Josie needs to either be her friend and support her or move on. How many times has Ashley dropped e everything to be at Josie's beck and call? Seems like since Nina arrived Josie didn't need her anymore.

    Does Richard have some spell over Josie? After telling Kate everything and then texting her to come to this party as a cock tease, she still goes? WTF? I think the new boss will find out she's hanging out with William and fire her. She is a writer but feels William's way is better. Aren't writers suppose to be into quality and not quantity. Cheap isnt always better.

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  4. I like the work angle that's going on here.

    I also would be completely sick of Ashley as well. She's so high maintenance and ungrateful.

    And finally, not to be super nit picky, but Richard was definitely described as being short when he was first introduced in the blog. Little details.

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    1. I wasn't sure if my memory had just created a version of Richard but I was certain he was supposed to be shorter too. Handsome, good build but like 5'8. The tall and lanky threw me for a loop.

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    2. Keep in mind, Jessica & Josie are small. 5'8" might seem tall to someone only 5'.

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  5. Sometimes when you're hurt you say things you don't mean and I think that's why Ashley acted like that. It's sad that Ashley was brought up in an environment where her mom believed happiness is not attainable. In a way I think she felt her warped relationship with Tom was her way to happiness and breaking the cycle she saw growing up. I hope that Josie and Ashley can get back to a happy, place with no drama like how they were when the blog first started.

    I like Josie's new boss and feel that she can learn so much from him. He can open her eyes to a whole new world and as she stated if she didn't have to worry about paying bills/rent that is the direction she would like to be in. I think she should learn as much as she can and still maintain a connection with William because you never know. Networking is uber important in every industry.

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  6. Okay, here's the thing with Ashley - she's just been dumped by her fiance, who she thought she loved, and believes was not abusive. OF COURSE she's going to lash out at Josie for being part of the reason. She's still too close to the abuse and to Tom to understand the gravity of it. She'll get it eventually, but for now I think Josie's done all she can. I don't love that Josie threw it in Ashley's face that she gave up her plans for her and that Nina bailed - seems petty and guilt-trippy. But that's just me.

    I hope nothing bad happens with Josie leaving to work with William, but it's starting to look like something will come up to bite her in the ass.

    I might be in the minority, but I think the Richard storyline was good. I didn't like him calling her a cock tease and her going to the party anyway, but I think it was a good way to seal off that storyline (for now, at least).

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    1. I understand why Josie brought up the point of doing things for Ashley. Ashley is manipulative and sets her friends up to fail. When the whole Tom thing happened Ashley straight up told Josie that she knew she didn't approve but that she wanted her to be there for her anyway. When Josie does, she lashes out at her for "not disengaging herself from the situation". She did the same thing with the Luke. Ashley knew that Josie would be uncomfortable, Josie gave her blessing anyway, and when Josie wasn't showering Ashley with puppies and rainbows she became the enemy. Josie wasn't throwing what she does for Ashley in her face, she was pointing out that her assertions that she is a bad friend were unfair.

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    2. I disagree srob. How is Ashley setting up her friends to fail? With Luke, Josie gave her blessing and blurted out how she saw Luke kissing a girl when they weren't exclusive. Then she and Nina and emailing back and forth about not wanting Luke at the summer house, an email which got back to Ashley. Josie set herself up there not Ashley. Josie should have been honest and said I am not comfortable with the situation. All she wanted to do was say I told you so when things didn't work out I find Josie to be petty and immature at times. With Tom, picture this you think you are in a perfect relationship and in love and engaged and out of no where your fiance breaks up with you. You best friend tells you what she said and you realize that it is because of her your "perfect" relationship is over, wouldn't you be pissed? Ashley never saw herself in a bad situation like we do. Josie always tries to act like she is a great friend but she isn't. She drops her friends when a new guy comes along and expects them to be there for her when she needs them.

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    3. How is it Josie's fault that Ashley lives in an alternate reality? She still tried to support her and it blew up in her face. TOM was the cause of Ashley's breakup with him. His sister figured out that he was hitting Ashley, it's not like Josie was offering up the information. And your remark about "dropping her friends when a new guy comes along and expects them to be there for her when she needs them" just described Ashley exactly. Josie however, has left a romantic weekend with Peter to go back to the city with Ashley when things got weird with Fedora, gave Ashley the ok to date Luke after Ashley started hooking up with him behind her back, and showed up to her friend's engagement party to an abusive asshole. Putting up with friends' abusive, alcoholic, destructive boyfriends is a kindness, not a requirement.

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    4. And seriously?? Josie "blurted out" that Luke was making out with some girl when she thought he was dating Ashley makes her a bad friend? I was not aware looking out for your friend's feelings was a bad thing.

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    5. I think that Josie sets herself up to fail by not being totally honest with her friends. She only tells half-truths and then it blows up on her when she lets them know how she really feels. The situation escalates because she isn't upfront. They are just all immature.

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    6. I respect your opinion and I think we should both remember this is suppose to be fun and entertaining. We have differing points of views and we are both passionate about defending those views. Ashley thought the she was in an ideal relationship, that doesn't mean that she leaves in an alternate world. Tom broke up with her and good riddance but his reasoning was because she couldn't keep their issues between them and then she finds out that that is because Josie told his sister what happened. I'm guessing she felt blindsided. Thankfully I've never been in an abusive relationship so I can only guess how one would feel. Sometimes we are blinded by love and don't realize the situation we are in is bad for us. How many times has Ashley dropped everything to meet up with Josie to discuss her Josie's relationship issues? A lot. With Luke, yes she should have told Ashley but ease into it. It shouldn't be the first thing you blurt out. The way she did it was hurtful. If memory serves me correct when Ashley tried to warn her about one of the guys she was dating she didn't react well either. I've read the blog from the beginning as I'm you have and it seems like maybe it's time for them to move on as friends. Sometimes we all are emotionally draining because of the situations we are in. True friends help you through tough times and don't throw it in your face. Most of their friendship issues are so petty and high school. That's just my two cents.

      I must add that Jessica is such an awesome writer, if not we would feel so passionately about these characters.

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    7. I'm interested in this back and forth and, clearly, you two have been reading this blog far longer than I have but overlooking that you have to show up to brunch with your friends wearing a woolen turtleneck sweater to hide the bruises on you from your fiance is hardly an 'ideal relationship' and, quite honestly, she needed someone to wake her the f*ck up to that fact. Understood that she's going lash out a Josie when her little fantasy world comes crashing down, but that anger should be directed at Tom, the SOB who was hitting her, not her friend. Hopefully it will be correctly aimed in the future.

      Also, is Josie supposed to just takea verbal lashing for being a crappy friend in this situation from Ashley? She had every right to defend herself. Ashley has some serious growing up to do.

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    8. Both Arianna and SROB make valid points. I feel Josie is a good friend but superficial. Remember how bitchy she was when she first met Kate. When she had no one else to hang out with she turned to Kate because she had no other choice. She very judgmental. I agree Ashley shouldn't have said what she did to Josie but also agree that she was upset and felt Josie was to blame.

      Side bar, I would like to know more about brad. He and Nina have been together months and we know almost nothing!!!!

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  7. Hi Jessica, I recently started my own blog. Would love to get some feed back! Follow me!

    http://newyorkdixie.blogspot.com/

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  8. How were Josie and Ashley friends for so long? Ashley is the worst.. she's stubborn and clueless, and she does not know how to take advice.. or take it with a grain of salt. Everything Josie says turns into a THING. I wouldn't want to walk on egg shells all the time, which is what Josie has to do.

    Also, Richard calls her a cock tease and she goes to the party anyway? A joke, maybe, but a rude one. I guess they are in "that place" where they can insult each other. That's a little below the belt though.. pun intended.

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  9. Am I the only one who noticed that Richard seems to be in a legit relationship after all his talk about not believing in monogamy, etc?

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  10. I like that fact that Josie is having a break from the guys at the moment.

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  11. dammit, i was hoping there was a surprise update. Now i have to read for Corporations

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