Confessions of a Salesgirl



Paying my way through college, I’ve worked for some of the most well known stores at your average mall, from big box retailers to boutiques. 

 During my time behind the counter, I‘ve seen and heard things that might shock you. Every person whose worked in a store or in customer service has stories to tell, and well, I’m here to tell you some of mine. They include the rude, the mean, and the disgusting. Read on, you might just recognize someone you know (never you, of course).

The happiest sales girl you’ll meet 

First, The Staff 

  1. I had no way of knowing that she paid her card balance like she said she did. 
  1. There’s no way I could override such a thing from the register. 
  1. For all know the card was stolen and declined for that reason. 
  1. Getting unreasonably angry is a common tactic thieves use to intimidate sales people. 


Dealing with crappy people is a given in customer service, but there are also crappy employees. Many of my coworkers have included college students, teachers, and underwriters; people who have full time jobs but need extra cash or know employees at their favorite stores get the best discounts. Usually, this means that everyone wants the best results for the store. 

When you’re dealing with difficult customers, long lines, and heavy traffic, your co-workers are your team. Everyone is supposed to pull in and work together, including the management staff. Making sure that the store operates properly is everyone’s responsibility, if for no other reason that at the end of the day, everyone wants to go home at a decent time. 

There is no torture, however, like working with people who refuse to pull their weight or make your job harder. I’ve worked with people who swore they needed the work, but called out almost every other day, or refused to perform certain functions of their job. I’ve seen manages steal or hide merchandise until they’re marked down within an inch of their lives, something we are explicitly not allowed to do. 

At my very first retail job, a coworker of mine was fired and arrested. He worked in the sports department selling high-priced treadmills and exercise machines. Problem was after making a sale, he would void the transaction in the system and keep the cash to himself. He was only caught because a customer came back to the store to return a treadmill, but in the system, it had already been returned. 



At another department in the same store, an employee got into the habit of putting her old shoes in boxes and walking out with new pairs. Customers did it, she surmised, so it was okay for her to do it too. 

There was one store manager I knew didn’t last very long on the job. We were all excited when she was hired. The store manager before her was curt and borderline abusive, and has to be escorted off the premises, so when the new manager was hired, we were psyched. She seemed energetic and fresh, and had really great hair. 

But once she was on the payroll, everything went downhill. She called out three times a week on average. While she worked there, her grandmother died three times. When she did bother to show up for work, she used any excuse to hide in the back. She never lasted more than five minutes on the sales floor. Instead, she locked herself in office, claiming to be doing paperwork, except the prior manager kept everything up to date. She also kept dropping random pills in the bathroom. 

It got to the point that when she continued to call out sick, saying she was in the hospital, the assistant managers called local hospitals to see if it was true. They never found her. She finally quit after everyone on the management team, including yours truly, filed complaints against her. 

Coupons. Oh, The Fucking Coupons 

If you come up to a register and ask, “Do you have any coupons?” The answer is no. The answer will always be no. People can get very annoying when they want an extra 15% off. What some people may not understand is that associates can get fired for giving out too many discounts. 

Sometimes we can make judgment calls. At my first retail job, for example, where I gave zero fucks and did exactly what I wanted to do (and it just so happened that what I wanted to do lined up with my job description) I would often grab a copy of the paper and keep it at the register bay with me. If the store printed a coupon that week, I’d scan it for every customer I had that day. 

That crap would get me blacklisted today. Not only have stores cracked down on that behavior, printing coupons that can only be used one time or only online, I was doing that because I felt like being nice. Not only can an associate get fired for this practice, but my job isn’t worth risking because you’re too lazy to clip coupons. 

Returns 

If you return an item and have the original receipts and tags, I will love you until the end of time. If you have no tags but a receipt, we’re cool. But if you return an item with no receipt, no tag, and expect me to pull a return out of my ass, we have a problem. 


Returns are a pain in the ass because we need some sort of proof of purchase. Sometimes customers don’t understand this and expect us to accommodate them without providing us with the information we need. Others think that because some stores have more capabilities to find a transaction, we should too. 

For example, some stores have systems that can find receipts by simply using a name or credit card, while others don’t, or don’t train their staff enough so that they know where to look. Other stores give refunds as long as you have your receipt, others have specific time frames, and others simply don’t give refunds at all. Smart shoppers are very good at paying attention to this, but others don’t, or simply don’t care. 

For example, one store I worked at marked certain items at “Final Sale” after it was marked down to a certain price. Items would then be marked with a red FINAL SALE tag, and would also be marked accordingly on the receipt. However, once a week without fail, we had at least one customer who insisted on returning final sale items, saying they were not made aware that the sale was final. 

Salespeople Are People Too 

 We’ve all heard the saying, “the customer is always right”, but what about the person behind the register? 

Although you always have your bad seeds, sales people generally don’t like to antagonize customers, if for no other reason than to keep their jobs for another day. This is why a lot of retail workers hate the nature of the job: you have quotas to fill, managers to keep happy, and a store to keep clean, even when some people try make that nearly impossible. It’s not uncommon having to deal with a customer whose having a bad day and is looking any excuse to dump on you. 

There are customers who go to stores “to feel better about themselves”, trying things on, asking for samples, and sometimes downright wasting sales staff time. It’s one thing to window shop, but when customers have a million question and try on a dozen things without any design on spending money, what they’re really doing is asking sales staff to work for free for the sake of your ego. 

Other customers do it for the power trip. They know that we are obligated to help them, and they love to treat the sales staff like the maids they can’t afford. And we can’t complaint or show that it bothers us. One customer complaint is enough for a manager to report you, demote you, or simply cut your hours to the point that you are forced to quit. Certain types of customers love to exploit this.

One time, (out of many) I had to tell a customer that her credit card had been declined. She was applying makeup, and looked at me for the first time since she walked up to the desk,  and told me that she had just paid her bill at another store. Then she told me to, “simply override it”. When I told her there was no way I could, she asked, “Isn’t that your job? Are you new?” 

The words came out of her face with such venom that I’m surprised the skin didn’t melt off my face. Red faced and humiliated, I tried to calmly explain to her that although I understood she had just made a payment, payments usually take two or three days to clear, and there was no way I could override a declined transaction. 

What I REALLY wanted to tell her was where she could shove that little makeup compact of hers, but I used all the energy I could to hold my tongue. She then mumbled a stream of profanities, snatched her credit card out of my hand and walked away. Exactly an hour later, my manager called me over to talk about a customer who had called to complain about “my incompetence”.

The conversation didn’t go anywhere, my manager at the time knew that our customers were super high maintenance, but it’s a scenario with a a number of complications:

Some customers really believe that by getting angry they will always get what they want, even if it’s something completely unreasonable. One time, a manager of mine had an altercation with a customer over a pair of dress pants whose hem came undone after two years. After several phone conversations, the customer came in, pants in one hand and receipt in the other, and demanded a refund. 

The manager tried to explain that while she understood her frustration, she could not refund the $129 the pants originally cost after two years of wear. The customer refused to budge, so my manager offered to pay to have the pants hemmed. The lady would not accept this, and insisted she was due a refund. After some arguing back and forth, the manager asked to see the pants. The customer then said, “You want to fucking see it? Here!” and threw the pants across the register. This knocked over one of our fixtures, and it split the manager’s lip open. That customer was escorted out of the store by security. 

Dressing Rooms Are The Doorway To A Hell Dimension 

People do crazy things in dressing rooms. They have sex, grab as many clothes as they can and wear them out of the store. Baby carriages are a theft problem. Some people love to use their children to steal, hiding stolen merchandise in carriages and baby bags. But that’s not the worst of it. Once, a co-worker of mine walked into a dressing room and stepped on a dirty tampon. Another found a very dirty, and very open diaper. 

But this one takes the cake: One co-worker was cleaning out the dressing rooms when she found a small shopping bag, the type made small enough to fit makeup. She grabbed it not thinking twice about it, only to find out too late that a customer used the bag to urinate. It spilled all over her arm. It’s to a point that we’d prefer it if you just peed directly on the carpet, and I’ve seen that happen too. 

The best I can do is offer some advice: Don’t take your shoes off inside the dressing room, hang up your clothes after you try them on, and smile at the person behind the register, even if they’re being less than nice. At best, you don’t know what kind of day they’ve been having, and at worst, just remember, you only have to deal with them for 20 minutes at most. They probably have to be there a lot longer.

A Note for Potential Hookups, Sex Partners and Future Boyfriends.

  1. Just because I show interest in you doesn’t mean I want to be your girlfriend or wife. Sometimes it just means I’m bored and you’re a new and shiny toy.
  2. If I ask you a direct question and you dodge it, it doesn’t mean you’re slick. I know what you’re doing. Just because I ignore it doesn’t mean you’re fooling anyone. 
  3. If something is unclear, ask. 
  4. Don’t go on a hookup website when you already have a girlfriend simply because you’re starved for attention. 
  5. Don’t then tell your potential hookup you’re on a break with your girlfriend when your girlfriend has not agreed to said break. 
  6. Don’t then sell your potential hookup this idea that you might end up dating when you absolutely have no intention of doing so. I hope you learned your lesson, Gio. 
  7. Getting a woman pregnant to get her to stay with you is a massively dick move that you should burn in hell for. 
  8. Women are not interchangeable. 
  9. Hanging around a woman for years until she finally decides to give you a chance does not make you a “player” “sex god” or “shark”. It makes you a parasite. A vulture at best. 
  10. True “players”, “sex gods” and “sharks” don’t have to lie for sex. They usually can’t get out of the house without women throwing it at them. 
  11. Hi Ceasar. Miss ya, baby. 
  12. You can’t be a “player”, “sex god” or “shark” and then simultaneously be afraid of women. That’s just stupid. 
  13. Chances are, I’m smarter than you. 
  14. If I tell you to fuck off, fuck off. 
  15. Don’t try to manipulate me. Seriously: don’t. It never goes well for anybody. 
  16. Not every woman is looking to get a ring. I haven’t spent my entire life dreaming of becoming some man-child’s indentured servant and/or babysitter. 
  17. Newsflash: real life isn’t like the Honeymooners, The Simpsons, and/or Family Guy. Women don’t exist to stand around and roll their eyes while you act a fool. 
  18. I have my own life too. 
  19. I can do bad all by myself. 
  20. But I still like to get laid. 
  21. My bedroom does not have a revolving door and my vagina is not a public theme park. I like to focus on one partner at a time. Again, doesn’t mean I want to be your girlfriend, and if that’s too much for you to comprehend, seek help. 
  22. Studies show that men are happier after marriage and women are more miserable. So you’re literally playing games against your own benefit. 
  23. Studies also show that women get bored with the same partners quicker while men are happier with consistency. So joke’s on you, bro. 
  24. Don’t keep me hanging for years and tell me you’re not ready for a relationship. Two years of being told to wait is a relationship, albeit a shitty one. 
  25. Just because I give you extra chances doesn’t mean your games are working. It just means I’m hoping you’ll eventually get over your bullshit and act like an adult for once. 
  26. Sex isn’t something you “get”. It’s something you have with each other. 
  27. There’s nothing wrong with being single. If I want to be with you, it isn’t because I’ve been staring at my ring finger crying myself to sleep at night. It’s because I’ve decided you’re worth shaving my legs for.
  28. If I tell you I’m not interested and your reaction is to suggest I kill myself, something is wrong with you. 
  29. No one is so busy that they can’t reply to a text within a reasonable amount of time. After 24 hours, you’re officially an asshole. 
  30. It’s not guy’s choice. It has never been guy’s choice. We. Pick. You. Some women just have a higher tolerance for bullshit than others. Don’t believe me? Ask your mother.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

(Published in The Recorder on March 28, 2007)

My friends say I have caviar taste on a dollar menu budget.

This was first said one Saturday night when I refused to go to a fast food restaurant and call it dinner. Instead, while my friends were content eating burgers and fries, I wanted chicken cordon bleu, and the label stuck. They thought of me as a spoiled brat; this was partly because while they were saving up for apartments and cars, working two jobs to pay for weddings and master’s degrees, I would spend whatever money I had freely on the things I wanted.

As I figure it, I’m making up for lost time. I’m undoing years of eating nothing but rice, beans and chicken, spending nights watching Telemundo at home or at church. By the time I turned 12, I was tired of the same things, and by 17 I could do something about it.

Sure, everyone loves Spanish food, but imagine eating nothing else for 18 years: no nights out, no visits to restaurants, no variations.

I only drank soda at birthday parties and didn’t eat a pop tart until I turned 16. My mom didn’t like these things, claimed we didn’t like them, and banned any Americanized food from our home.

Now rice is only acceptable on my plate when it’s wrapped around raw salmon and tuna. I go out to dinner often, usually alone but company is always appreciated. While college students are strapped for money and eat mac & cheese for dinner, I spend entire paychecks on nights out at the Olive Garden.

Don’t misunderstand me, however. I am not one of those high maintenance chicks who need to have all the latest clothes and shoes. Mostly because I’m not a slave totrends and styles, and I hate high heels. Also because most trends and styles don’t apply to the big-bottomed, loud-mouthed Latina that I am. While my closet is busting at the seams with clothes, most of them were bought when Clinton was still in office, when I worked retail and had a great discount. No, I am not a Paris Hilton. Instead, I’m a Rachael Ray, because my love affair is limited to food and the drinks that make it taste better, making me more big-bottomed and loud-mouthed every time I indulge in this passion.

Yes, I love food, the different tastes, spices and the joys it can only give you after a long day of exams or a stressful day at work. I can justify a 50-dollar meal, but I can’t justify spending $50 on a shirt, though I should be doing neither. After all, I am only a college student working part-time at a bookstore, who until today had no other responsibilities besides herself.

Until today.

Soon I will be moving out on my own, and will expenses will go from lavish nights out to more practical things like rent and heat. Goodbye steaks, specialty sushi, and a very expensive addiction to books. Instead I will balance a budget and become a responsible adult.

Something I’ve been dreading all along.

On the Bus

(Creative non-fiction circa 2007) 

The bus is early today.

The alarm went off at 8 am. Then again at 8:05, and again and again until I can’t hit snooze anymore and roll out of bed. But before I get out of bed, I do my daily mental negotiation with myself.

Can I get away with skipping class today?

How many classes have I missed already?

Is there anything due?

But I can’t skip, I know this for a fact. 

It’s the day I miss class that the teachers give the most information, tidbits I can use to pass the test or what they’re really looking for in our essays. So instead I drag myself out of bed, dragging my feet on the way to the bathroom very much like a zombie complete with the breath. 

And I don’t wake up until I feel the cold water pelting me in the face.

And I’m awake, not that there’s much of a difference.

I’m always running late.

I’m leaving class now on my way to work. It’s the same bus, the same one that loops between my apartment, downtown, my school, and my job, like a cruel figure 8 with no end in sight. 

I run outside to catch the bus. I can see it coming around the corner from the windows, and run out the door clumsily to catch it. My shoes are untied. I leave the door unlocked and barely grab my bag on my way out. I almost miss it by seconds.

The driver gives me a smug smile as I get on.

See, I waited for you, he says.

I barely glance at him. He smells like rum on the best days, and drives like a snail, so that though he was early today, I know I’ll be late for work.

He starts driving before I find a seat, and I stumble.  

Today the bus is full of people and my favorite seat is taken. Instead I sit somewhere near the middle, next to a lady who is quietly snoring with her face pressed against the window. Her day is over, I’m just taking a break in-between. 

A few stops away, past the cemetery, the Peruvian lady gets on as usual. She’s a small, tiny thing, with long blonde hair and perfect teeth. She always sits up front, and like clockwork the bus driver purposely catches a red light to turn and talk to her. He compliments her tight jeans, her open toed sandals and pretty toes. 

What he fails to compliment is the ring on the third finger of her left hand. 

That he always misses.

They talk about nothing, about the weather. TV. Their favorite old salsas.

He knows I don’t like him; I’ve complained about him to the bus company so many times the dispatcher knows me by name. 

What is your complaint ma’am?

The bus driver got to the mall ten minutes late again.

Nina, is that you again?

I tie my shoes as he drives, careful not to bother the lady next to me. She’s formed a nice trace of drool that’s slowly running down the window. I wish I could sleep that soundly.

***

The bus is nearly empty today.

 When I get on my favorite seat is empty, third down on the left, so I’m close enough to the door without being hit with a blast of hot air every time someone else gets on. 

It’s my favorite driver today. 

He nods at me and says something as I get on, but my headphones are so loud I don’t hear him. I’m sure it’s along the lines of a greeting, but I’m really not sure. We play this game all the time, him saying something to me, while I go “Eh?” and fumble for the pause button. But I like this guy. He knows to get me to the mall five minutes early so I can get to work on time, and holds the bus when I’m running late. 

He has a grandfather quality about him. Almost like Santa, with completely white hair and a round belly. He once dropped me off at home when he was off duty, on a late Saturday night after I had gotten off of work. I had forgotten my coat. I had forgotten my umbrella, and it was both raining and freezing out. He scolded me the entire time, told me I’d catch my death.

You kids today, he said, aren’t very careful.
.
The man in front of me offers me a strawberry. He produced it from a container in his deep pockets, holding it in front of me with dirt stained hands.

They’re from my garden, he says, and I accept it.

He has blackened teeth, like a mouthful of black corn kernels, and though I try not to stare, I can’t help but notice that some of those black spots are gaps. He’s thin and gaunt, with long stringy hair that’s thinning on the top. I can see the spots on his scalp, and I can count six before they disappear at the back of his head. 

For a second he reminds me of a scarecrow that’s been out on the sun too long. His skin is leathery, and he’s so small and frail I wonder just how old he really is.

The strawberry is small and dusty. When I put it in my mouth it tastes sour and soft, like it was a few hours away from being compost.

To him it’s the best strawberry I’ve ever had.

Thank you very much, I say. 

That was very sweet of you. And I realize he has that shake, that look. 

That look that says that he’s dying to talk to someone, and I wait.

I don’t know why. I usually ignore them. Maybe he was lonely. Maybe it doesn’t matter. But instead of putting on my headphones right away, I wait.

I grow them for my wife. He says, with another half-smile. She’s in the hospital.

I nod. I’m so sorry to hear that.

She has Multiple Sclerosis, he says. His voice breaks. She’s been living with it for eight years.
This time I don’t know what to say.

I look out the window. Today is one of those many hot summer days we’ve had lately, so hot you can’t feel the breeze blowing off a fan even if you stood in front of it.

He keeps talking to me. Shows me pictures of his wife and tells me how she loved to dance.
And I listen the entire way. When my stop comes I can only say that I’m sorry softly before I walk away.

I’m early to  class today.
***
I’m early for the bus today.

I wonder what stories I’ll hear along the way. 

Balthus at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

It’s difficult to write about an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art without somehow, first, acknowledging the museum itself, and the work of art it is.

I arrived at the museum with little trouble, a first in many attempts to navigate the city on my own without my trusted car. I, a recent transplant to the city from Connecticut, have had to relearn to depend on public transportation after realizing, the hard way, that driving in New York is a loser’s bet.
Still, it is not like I am not familiar with public transportation. Quite the opposite, I have very recently gained the freedom to drive myself, anywhere and everywhere, and it feels like I am being asked to drop a shiny new toy much too soon. And in the subway I always feel like I can’t breathe.
I was on the ground so to speak, and my sense of direction, to date, still needs help. I tell myself that it is not a bad sense of direction. Instead, I just need to remind myself that it always my secondinstinct that gets it right. The fact that my choices are usually limited to two (left or right, up or down) is notwithstanding. I get there eventually.
I take the train and arrive a few blocks away from the museum, and though my task is clear, I am distracted by the tea store across the street and take a detour. I’m just going to ask for directions, I tell myself. And get a cup of tea in the meantime. The people in the store are of course, incredibly helpful. And while I wait for my tea to steep forever (my original instructions were: “Just let it sit there all day and I’ll come back later. He limited that to fifteen minutes), I ask for directions to the museum.
Right next to the park, they tell me. You can’t miss it. And after grabbing my tea, and the best cheese Danish I’ve had to date from the bakery next door, I head on my way.
There are parts of New York that are historic. In fact, I have found it difficult to find a place in New York that isn’t drenched in history or has been made famous by a movie or song.  As I walk down to Madison Avenue I can only think of the movie Splash and I find myself quoting lines in my head when I see the street sign. I can’t stop but stare at the houses and buildings, historic and works of architectural art, and I know I look like the dumbfounded tourist. Even the gates are beautiful. And as I reach the park, the first thing I ask myself is if I could find the statue of Alice in Wonderland there.
And then there’s the museum. It is being renovated but it’s still beautiful, and the steps are littered with people listening to a group of men singing Du wop. I buy a hot dog and listen, and the moment is perfect.
I walk inside to a flurry of activity. There are people everywhere excited about the art. The energy bubbles, and I, invigorated head straight to find Balthus.
And I am distracted every step of the way. Claude Monet. Pablo Picasso. Geogia O’keefe. I find myself staring inside an empty sarcophagus and thanking every ounce of art and history education I’ve ever had for letting me appreciate these works of art. I make my way to the entrance of the Balthus exhibit twice and am lured away by another painting I had once seen in a textbook.
And then I step into the exhibit.
The disclaimer is the first red flag.
The fact that the name of the exhibit is Girls and Cats feels like a wink to the modern dependence our society has on the internet, and how it would not exist without either of these things. What I didn’t expect, however, was a large SPOILER ALERT at the very entrance of the exhibit, warning that “some” may find these images disturbing.
And yes, disturbing they were. The images themselves seemed harmless enough. Children lying prone in bored play, serious and looking away, but at closer inspection these paintings have a way of making the viewer feel uneasy.
The first realization is the easiest: just like the exhibit says, these are paintings of girls, prepubescent and angular, small and for the most part unsmiling. And then you notice the parts where the painter paid the most attention. The cats themselves, save for one self-portrait, are painted in hurried strokes, quick and fleeting, blurred in motion on dried oil. But the girls, the girls are accented and defined, and if brush strokes are anything to go by, Balthus had a thing for legs.
I find myself trying to look away from the legs, from the folds of a dress, the perfectly detailed lace hem on one, trying desperately to find another point of focus but I come back almost instinctively, to the curve of their perfectly lighted legs every single time.
If this disturbs you and makes you feel uncomfortable, well, that’s the point. Even in the spacious rooms of the museum exhibit felt tight and airless. People shifted uncomfortably, tugged at their collars and gasped for breath.
I heard a woman ask, “What was wrong with this guy?” A couple of guys behind me whispered the word creepy, and everyone seemed like they would rather be somewhere else. It was hard to swallow, even with the kind disclaimer, that these paintings were about the complexities of childhood and puberty when it felt like the artist seemed to be trying to turn the audience into passive witnesses to his pedophiliatic desires.
Balthus had two sons, and yet his muses were young girls. The farmers daughter, and later, Therese, Balthus’s niece who became his muse at the age of 16.
I stare at the paintings of Therese and wonder what she is thinking. She is half naked in a few of the paintings. In one she is topless. In another, she’s just out of the shower, and her smooth glowing skin is front and center. In one of the paintings, the one that struck me the most, the plaque describes Therese’s averted gaze as one that “let’s” the viewer gaze upon her body, as if looking away is an invitation to look elsewhere. And I wonder.
I wonder about Therese and her life now. The plaque say she is still alive. I wonder what her story is, how she’s felt about being the silent muse of a famous painter, a passive object of fame at such a young age. I wonder about these girls and what they have to say, and I’m dying to hear the stories, in a place far, far away from Balthus and his violating gaze.

Out of Control Binge Drinking


(Originally published on Suite101

What to notice when drinking gets out of hand and out of control.


Sometimes partying can lead to destructive behavior. Drinking casually for example, especially among the college crowd, can go from “just for fun” to a full grown dependency. Although alcoholism is a problem in itself, binge drinkers should also be aware of the dangers they put themselves and their bodies into when drunk. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, and it puts you at risks for predators. Below are some tips to help you notice if you’re drinking too much.

You’re drinking too much when:

Your friends say something – Good friends are hard to find, and they are the first ones to tell you when they see something wrong. If a good friend brings your drinking to your attention, take his comments into consideration. Remember, the last thing a friend wants is to see you hurt.

You make decisions you wouldn’t otherwise make – Take a moment to think about something you’ve done after a couple of drinks, and ask yourself, would I have done this sober? Or, would I have done this six months ago? A year ago? You may realize that drinking alcohol is taking a negative toll on your personality.

You can’t remember what you did last night – Blackouts are bad. Drunk blackouts are even worse. They leave you vulnerable for predators and it’s a clear sign that your body cannot handle that much alcohol. All it takes is for one person to notice your inebriated state and take advantage of that.

Your life is falling apart – Ever shown up at work hung over? Or still drunk? Called out of work because you partied too hard last night? Or missed one too many classes? Or, is the majority of your money going to alcohol? These and other things are signs that alcohol is disrupting your life, and it’s not okay. Your life and future are more important, and nothing should ever interfere with that.


What to do if you’re drinking too much:

First and foremost, put the drink down and change your partying behavior. Pick up a hobby, join a club. Do something that you love and spend all your free time falling in love with it again. Catch up on a show you’ve been meaning to watch, just do anything it takes to redirect your energy into something positive. Because exercise raises endorphins, why not start a workout regime? You’ll feel good and look good.

If you still can’t seem to wean yourself from the bottle, then consider professional help. There is nothing shameful in admitting that you need help. And if anyone mocks your new, clean lifestyle, lose their phone numbers.

Reading the Twilight Series


I wrote about Twilight in 2008 for Suite101 and I want to make this clear: I am a proud owner of a very well-worn, first edition, first printing copy of Twilight. Seriously, the dust jacket got lost within days and its now little more than pages barely held together with string. I like Twilight. I think its a love story that resonates. Hates to the left. 

Reading the Twilight Series 

Why the young adult books called the Twilight series, by Stephenie Meyer are a must read. These books include the titles Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse.


The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, which now consists of three books:Twilight (ISBN: 978-0316160179, Little, Brown, October, 2005), New Moon, (ISBN: 978-0316160193, August, 2006) and Eclipse (ISBN: 978-0316160209, August, 2007), is one of the top must read’s of the Young Adult Genre, second only to Harry Potter in popularity among young adult readers.

How Bella’s Story Begins
Twilight differs from its young adult counterparts because it mixes real life emotion with fantasy. Unlike Gossip Girland Clique, Twilight plays at the heartstrings. It’s a romantic daydream gone awry.
It begins with Bella Swan moving to Forks to live with her Dad. Bella misses home, and she misses the sun. In Forks, apparently, it rains most days out of the year. Still she tries to settle into her new school and her new life, and tries to sleep despite the constant sound of falling rain.
Then she meets Edward Cullen. Edward wants nothing to do with Bella at first, and is resentful of her existence. But slowly and reluctantly, he tells her the truth: that he is a vampire, and that her blood, Bella’s blood, is the most beautiful thing he has smelled in a century. He can’t decide whether to kill her or love her.
Edward’s vampire is different from his Ann Rice and other fictional relatives. It’s as if Meyer asked herself, not what if vampires were real, but what if vampires were a realistic possibility. The answer is a highly evolved, dangerously beautiful predator. Some of the vampires also have special abilities, including Edward’s ability to read thoughts. But the Cullen’s are the “vegetarians” of their kind, living among humans and feeding only on animals.

For the Reader
At first sight, don’t be intimidated by the book’s size. Although each book is more than 500 pages each, it targets an age group from the ages of 12 and up, an easy read. Avid readers can finish it in a weekend. Harry Potter graduates will consider it brain candy. Also, because Meyer draws inspiration from classics like Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights, it might reacquaint you with these classics, or inspire your young readers at home to pick them up for the first time.
If the vampires or love story don’t draw you (Edward is a delectable prince charming), then Bella’s every girl persona will. Her character is so relatable that her story sometimes reads as a personal narrative rather than a work of fiction. However, certain scenes get a little redundant. Bella sometimes lacks foresight and insight, which leads to conflict that can otherwise be avoided.

Awards and News
In 2007, New Moon, the second book in the Twilight Series, made #1 in the American Library Association’s 2007 Teens’ Top Ten list. In 2006, Twilight made #2, second to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. The fourth installment in the series, Breaking Dawn, has a tentative release date in the fall of 2008.
Right now, Twilight is being optioned for a movie, with Kristen Stewart (Speak, Panic Room) as Bella and Robert Pattinson (Cedric Diggory from the Harry Potter movies) as Edward. The movie is scheduled to be released on 12/08/2008.