Category Archives: Book

A passage from ‘Beyond the Sea’

 *  *  *

I have a new mantra. Every morning and night after I brush my teeth and apply my anti-wrinkle creams, I repeat to myself in the mirror that I am a brave and strong woman. Not sure if it works though. Today I woke up way before my alarm clock was about to ring. I lay in bed too depressed to even get up and fix me some coffee. I felt lonely and almost forty. I am lonely and almost forty. The truth is, time is unraveling fast and I don’t know how to catch up. Penny says that I look depressed and that it is normal to feel depressed when your husband leaves you for your best friend and your house burns down (she keeps repeating it in details as if making sure I don’t forget!) but I want to shake off this melancholy and reinvent myself. At first I thought it was going to be easy but now I’m having doubts. Also, we have a new person in the office courtesy of new CEO ‘upping’ (his favorite word!) our game with a customer service representative (a dull corporate robot) that he handpicked himself. Her name is Annie Davis. An ugly character with a friendly name. I showed her how to edit a PDF document and later when Brian came round she told him that she ‘figured it out’! When somebody shows you how to do something that’s not called ‘figuring it out’! I was pissed off. I am tired of being nice and have decided to create an alter ego to help me develop some nasty traits that will help me deal with nasty people like Richard, Hope, and Annie Davis. I was thinking what would be an appropriate badass name for my new self when Klaus and Vincent showed up by my desk and asked why I was mad. I explained that I wasn’t mad but deep in thought. Klaus said I was subconsciously mad. Vincent agreed. I felt that I was getting mad but just because they were pissing me off with their insightful questions and opinions. So I told them my name conundrum.

Lily Poppy is such a weak name. What were my parents thinking? How am I supposed to be a strong woman when the slightest wind sends my petals flying? What is a strong name?

‘My dog’s name is Warrior’ said Vincent.

‘What are you saying – that I should look into dog’s names?’

‘No, I’m just saying it’s a strong name.’

‘I need a strong woman’s name.’

‘Ronda Rousey’ said Vincent.

‘Who the hell is Ronda Rousey?’

‘She’s a cage fighter’ said Vincent. Klaus watched our exchange like an exciting tennis match. I had no idea that cage fighting for women existed. Neither did Klaus.

‘Is she fighting men or other women?’ he asked.

‘Other women’ said Vincent.

‘So there are more of them!’ said Klaus impressed.

‘Of course there are more of them – she is not fighting herself’ I said.

‘She could take out a few men, too, I’m sure’ said Vincent, the expert in Ronda Rousey. Richard’s mother’s name is Rhonda. I want to be strong but I’m not that desperate to take the name of my former mother-in-law. I am actually, but there must be another strong name that I could appropriate.

‘Dolly Parton was named after a sheep and yet she is a strong woman’ said Klaus. ‘It’s not the name, it’s you. If you are not happy, change yourself not your name.’

‘She was not named after a sheep’ I said. ‘Dolly Parton came first. Dolly the cloned sheep came after. Who would name a child after a sheep?!’

‘My cousin named his child after a dog’ said Klaus. ‘His wife is Italian and she wanted the name to be Salvatore and now they call him Toto. Like he belongs to Dorothy. But he is cute boy. And you,’ he looked at me, ‘you have the name of a flower, not of a sheep or a dog. Flowers are pretty and you should be happy.’

Klaus is right, but it’s difficult to be happy when your husband runs off with your best friend. It feels like they joined forces and blew all my petals away and I am now in a field full of blossoming wild daisies and poppies, that one balding flower that nobody wants.

        *  *  *

blur-1837295_1920

‘Beyond the Sea’ book excerpt

As I had promised to myself, I pushed Klaus in the water. It took him by surprise, maybe because he still had his clothes on or maybe because he did not anticipate such an act at all. I remember my father telling me I was unpredictable. Now Klaus knows. I watched him splash around and wave his pale, slender, Russian arms. I took a few shots with my phone, thinking about how much fun he was having. Then I realized that he was flapping around struggling to stay afloat. Klaus was drowning! I dropped my phone and jumped in the water to save him. I thought how I must have put on a pound or two because I went in really deep. It took me a few seconds to resurface and catch a breath. I came face to face with Klaus who then put his palm on top my head and pushed me back in the water. Klaus was lying. He could swim. He pretended to be drowning to get back at me for pushing him in the water. That little weasel! We got out and sat on the pier. I watched my Garbo hat float away in the distance. I told Klaus that he should never cry wolf. He said he was not afraid of wolves.                                                                                  We caught a fish! It was small and silvery and because we did not recognize the kind we agreed that it was a toddler silver perch. We admired its slippery beauty for a little while and then returned it to the water. We then admired our fishing skills. I never caught a fish before and when it first pulled the line I was so surprised I almost let go of the rod. Klaus jumped in and helped me pull it out. We wrestled with it for about ten, maybe twenty seconds. There are some tricks about how you hold the rod so that the fish does not escape. It was very intense – almost like in Jaws except with a harmless baby fish.

framed pier

Book excerpt

* * *

It’s Friday and everybody at work has some amazing weekend plans. I bet that most of them just sits at home, folds laundry and watches TV. Klaus came by to ask me who is he going out with? He wanted some insider info on Mandy. I told him that she was as tall as him but probably stronger and that he can only hope that she does not have some dangerous mental issues. I meant it as a joke but after seeing a glimpse of worry in his naive bluish-greenish eyes I decided to explore the subject. I told him that Mandy has been very sensitive ever since she had pubic crabs and everybody in her college class laughed at her. And she has hard time getting rid of them. It was a stupid and totally implausible lie but it was all I could come up with at that very moment. Klaus didn’t think twice about believing me – he bit that hook like the baby silver perch that day on the beach.

‘She has pediculosis pubis and she can’t get rid of it?!’ he said.

‘You know how to say crabs in Latin?!’

‘Yes, pubic crabs, not regular crabs. She can use shampoo to kill them. I’ll buy her one.’

‘No, you won’t. Who does that? Besides, she thinks…she thinks that the scratch comes from some skin disorder.’

‘She can’t see the crabs?’

‘She also has very poor vision.’ I was out of control.

‘Why nobody tell her?’ insisted Klaus. I noticed that his grammar would always drop down a level if he was in any way confused or excited. I guess he’d lose the linguistic focus.

‘Because she is very sensitive. You don’t just walk up to somebody and tell them they have crabs. This is not Russia.’

‘We don’t do that in Russia. Only when you know the person well.’

‘Well, don’t say it to Mandy. She is too sensitive. It could send her over the edge.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘It means that…well, she is also…she is a little mentally unstable so it means that we don’t want to disturb her. You promise you won’t say anything.’ Whoever said that lying is like quicksand was right. I could feel that mud around my throat.

‘It is very difficult for me to withhold the truth,’ said Klaus.

‘Even when truth is none of your business?’

‘Truth is everybody’s business.’

‘I will tell her, okay. You don’t say a word. You are a man, and a foreign one for that matter.’

‘I am almost American.’

‘I am almost five five.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘My height. I am almost five foot and five inches tall. Keyword almost. You are almost American but you are still a foreigner so zip it when you talk to Mandy.’

‘Zip my pants?’

‘No, zip it means don’t speak.’

‘You mean I should not speak when I talk to Mandy?’

‘Exactly.’

‘That’s impossible. If I talk to somebody then I have to speak.’

‘No, you don’t. Let her do the talking. You just listen and smile politely and mind your own business.’

‘Dating in America is very complicated…five five…you are not very tall.’

‘You are not very muscular.’

‘Don’t be mad, I think your height is very feminine. It’s the perfect height for wearing high heels. I love high heels. For a woman, not for me, I prefer desert boots. I am not cross-dresser. ‘

‘I don’t wear high heels.’

‘I know, you also wear desert boots, but if you did wear high heels your height is perfect.’

‘Just don’t say anything to Mandy.’

* * *

Excerpt from book

    ***

I spent my lunch-break shopping. My ex-husband Richard (calling him Dick now) never liked anything about my looks. When I say never, I mean after we got married. My high heels were inappropriate, my eyes the wrong color, my feet too big, my boobs too small, my legs too thin, my makeup too strong, my taste in fashion frivolous – the list could go on and on. Sadly for me, I really wanted him to like me. I mean, he was my husband, and I loved him – and the thing is – if the one who actually married you (for whatever reason) sees you as a complete visual failure – what are other people seeing? I remember that my self-esteem at the height of my now broken marriage was at an all-time low (ironically) and no fake smile could hide the fact that I was unhappy. Those smiles, they show up on photographs. Sort of like age. You smile and you think you look fabulous and plump like a cherubic 18 year old, and then the picture comes out and you think ‘Who is this old hag with a creepy grimace?! Oh, it’s me!’ I thought of that while smudging different colors of eye shadows on my eyes and wrist at a beauty counter of a local department store. I tried different eye shadows, lipsticks, lip-glosses, blushes, BB creams and whatever the rather amused saleslady offered. By the time I left the store, I looked like a clown. But not the creepy, scary clown that makes people shudder. I was a thirty something divorcée (what an ugly word!), well dressed, smelling of Coco Mademoiselle (because there is no Coco Divorcée), stylish, and most importantly – happy clown. I crossed a little girl and her mom on the way out, and the girl looked up at me, smiled and said to her mom ‘I want to look like this’. Her mother glanced at me a bit uncomfortable and not quite sure how to respond.

Clinique counter’, I said, ‘straight down and to the right.’

***

 

Excerpt from ‘Beyond the Sea’

Everybody in the office did the Myers-Briggs test today. First the test, then the discussion about the results received. Everybody kept saying how they finally feel understood. My type turned out to be ISFJ-T which means that I have good practical skills, I am supportive, reliable and patient, observant (I disagree on grounds of husband and friend’s affair), enthusiastic, loyal and hard-working. I sound like such a bore. No wonder Richard turned to Hope – my lameness is hopeless and I did not need a test to tell me that. The irony is that this is supposed to be a good personality, helpful and altruistic – and yet, I feel resentful towards it. Klaus is ENFP-T which makes him curious, energetic and popular. Joann is ESFP which she summed up as Excellent Slut For Parties and made sure that everybody heard it. I decided to take my weaknesses into consideration and work on them. It does not sound like a fun project but then again, my personality is not about fun so it should not be a problem!’