Level Me

A succession of shrill rings jolted Julie from her mundane dream.

Her left eye barely opened to a slit as she reached for the phone, put it to her ear and uttered, “Yeah?”

“I’ve done it.” Whispered a gruff voice on the other end of the line.

“Hey, is this Dimitri? My friend who lives just down the hall but I haven’t seen in months?”

The line went silent.

“I’m sorry, Julie, I’ve been busy. I can’t explain it, you’ll have to come down and see for yourself.”

“Have you been drinking again? What is it you’ve done?” Julie mumbled as she rubbed her eyes and propped herself up in bed.

“I haven’t had as much as a glass of merlot in weeks. Please, just come down.” Dimitri pleaded.

Julie grunted as she jammed the phone down onto the cradle, flung open the covers and crawled out of bed. She tied the belt on her white terry cloth robe, squinting at the hallway’s painfully bright lights as she closed her apartment door.

As she made her way down the hall to Dimitri’s door her legs felt stiff and heavy. She was growing concerned with what she might find on the other side. He was a completely different person since his fiancee had gone missing a little over a year ago. It was obvious that he and Crystal were crazy in love. For the first few months Dimitri was so consumed with finding her that he lost his dream job as a programmer with Google. Another month passed and he had become a full fledged recluse.

Julie rapped gently at his door with one knuckle and pressed her right eye to the peephole. She heard the click of the deadbolt as Dimitri quickly opened the door. A wall of stench hit her as she crossed the threshold so sour that almost made her wretch. Dimitri looked ashen, as though he’d aged ten years since she last saw him.

His eyes stared through her, he began speaking in rapid clips. “It took so long…because all I had to work with was a few voicemails…a handful…of pictures…I found.” Dimitri clicked the button on his mouse and a beam of light appeared in the middle of the dark and cluttered room. Suddenly a three-dimensional image of Crystal stood before them. The hologram looked so much like Crystal that Julie’s first inclination was to hug her but her second notion was to backhand her and demand an explanation as to where the hell she’d been.

Crystal was smiling in the sunshine as a light breeze blew her auburn hair. She reached in the deep pocket of her chambray sundress, unfolded a piece of paper and began to speak, “Level me with one glance, as you look over your shoulder and smile sweetness with your eyes.” Dimitri was silently mouthing the words to the poem as Crystal continued, “Our years are a dance only just begun. Yet I know in some distant time when the days grow short I will chuckle with content as we sip our tea with a dust of a million miles on our feet and I know this life was lived complete, my Dear.”

Julie carefully stepped over a tangle of wires to embrace Dimitri as his tears soaked her shirt through.

“She wrote that for me, Julie. This took me months of programming but this is the precise moment I fell in love with her. Now I never have to let her go. Code is poetry too you know, now she’s made of it.”

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The Cubicle Jungle

Working in the close quarters of the modern office environment can be more difficult than you think. Below are a few tidbits of wisdom to help navigate you safely through the pitfalls of the cubicle jungle.

 

Homo-Cubiclus – An often intelligent but sedentary creature who sits in a tiny three walled office for 8 to 10 hours a day. These creatures survive on various forms of fried pastry, sugar and caffienated beverages and frequently daydream of places far, far away.

Listed below are some, but not all varieties of Homo-Cubiclus:

 

Besmircher – One who has mastered the art of twisting every conceivable positive into a negative. You often feel like washing up after encountering a besmircher.

 

Besmoocher – One who cozies up to the boss or high ranking cubicle-mate at every opportunity and then is the first to talk about him/her like a dog when he or she isn’t present. Can be nauseatingly saccahrine. Try to exchange nothing but vague pleastantries with a besmoocher.

 

Flapper – (Not to be confused with the 1920’s era cultural icon). One who will literally explode if, after being told something, doesn’t repeat it to someone else within at least five minutes. Flappers have been known to often take creative license in the retelling of said information or stories. Say nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, to a flapper that you don’t want repeated.

 

Stall Jockey (or sometimes referred to as the less culturally accepted, turd-bird) – An individual who disappears for long periods of time, several times a day. Stall Jockey’s can be fun at parties, exhibit a lacksadaisical attitude and sometimes whistle. The tell-tale sign of a stall jockey is the everpresent reading material proudly tucked under one arm or sandwiched between important looking work-related files.

 

Toggle-Master – One who posses lightning quick reflexes not unlike that of a ninja. They use these reflexes to their advantage by surfing the internet and reading frivilous e-mail attachments for most of the day. These adreniline junkies are masters of using the “Alt” and “Tab” keys to toggle back to that all-important spreadsheet or work-item just a split second before the boss walks by. Exercise caution when approaching a Toggle-master (ecspecially if unannounced) for they can be skittish and easily exciteable.

 

Schnoozer – A true schoozer is almost zen-like. They have one foot planted in reality and one foot in the land of dreams and can make an seamless, almost unnoticeable transition. If a Schnoozer is still for more than a few minutes chances are he/she has achieved the illusive dreamlike state.

 

Wishy-washer – These people, for various reasons, adamately refuse to state their personal opinion or take a strong stance on any one subject for fear it will go “against the grain” in a homogenous politically correct environment. Often, wishy washers have lost all but a shred of their individuality and delight themselves in owning multiple shades of khaki clothing.

 

Roundabout – “All the world’s a stage” and, when in the spotlight, a good roundabout can be mesmirizing! Roundabouts take pride in rarely giving a direct answer to any question. Watch for a theatrical oratory style, this will often..but not always give them away. The roundabout climbs the ladder quickly and will continue to hone their craft in the cubicle jungle until such time as they decide to move into the political arena.

 

Chief Time Thief – The person in the office who stealthily lies in waiting to nab you at the least opportune times in hallways or restroom areas for lengthy and often pointless conversations. Avoid this person at all costs, especially in social settings. Chief Time Thieves are almost guaranteed to make their victims sweat and have been known to elevate their blood pressure by at least ten points.

 

The Piddler – It’s a Piddler’s ultimate goal in life to one day find a way to master the laws of physics and actually suspend time. Until this ultimate goal is reached it will satisfy them to spend least ten times longer than necessary to do each and every job function. Piddlers relish in life’s little details, often have very serious demeanors and appear to be very studious and philosophical.

 

The Whittler – One who slowly and steadily erodes the morals of the entire department by spreading rumors and/or gossip with the sole purpose of starting trouble within the group. Whittlers are typically excellent strategists, will talk about anyone behind their backs, pit people against one another and sit back and enjoy the show. A tell tale sign of a Whittler is a saccharine sweet veneer and free-flowing compliments for anyone within earshot.

 

The Martyr – A Martyr will be the first to tell you, the weight of the world is on their shoulders. Martyrs can be seen sighing and shaking their heads in disgust quite frequently. Nervous ticks and soft incoherent mumblings can sometimes be observed in extreme cases.

 

Gigante Importante – A person who has been with the company since the dawn of time and have found a comfortable niche in middle-management. Gigante Importante’s, many times, operate under the false assumption that they’re indispensable and the Universe would actually grind to a halt if it weren’t for their glowing competence. Be careful, Gigante Importante’s are very territorial and can become argumentative if threatened.

 

Shiny-Happy-People – These people are just plain happy as hell. In fact, they can be disturbingly happy. Shiny-Happy-People can exhibit short-term memory loss, cry frequently after-hours, most have experimented heavily with psychotropic drugs at some stage in their lives and usually have deep dark secrets that are best left unsaid.

 

The Interrupter – A person who dominates each and every conversation or meeting that they’re involved in. There’s an unusual air of intellectual superiority surrounding an Interrupter. Usually thin, nervous with very dramatic communication styles and have a hyena-like laugh. These people clearly weren’t given enough attention as children and are making up for lost time. Interrupters have the unique ability to make others feel like they do not exist. Not unlike the Chief Time Thief, the Interrupter can raise other’s blood pressure significantly.

 

The Interceptor – One who will take another’s good idea and present said idea to a manager with the intention of claiming it as their own. The Interceptor is completely devoid of a conscience or even a shred of common sense and can be found lurking behind cubicle walls, eaves dropping. Seasoned Interceptors have even been known to log onto other people’s computers in their absence to obtain their valuable information.

 

Human Calliope – One who can make disgusting noises from each and every orifice either separately or in advanced cases, at the same time. Human Calliope’s are often slightly autistic and exhibit brash, anti-social behavior. When conversing with a Human Calliope it’s best to stand at least ten feet away or perhaps wear a slicker.

 

A Novel Approach

It’s been just a little over a month since Alarm Clock Dawn was published and it’s been an interesting and enlightening journey so far. Even after having self-published five books previously I underestimated the amount of work involved in the marketing of a project of this magnitude.

So far the novel has gotten a couple favorable reviews, it’s in a brick and mortar bookstore and continues to climb in the Amazon.com sales ranking. However, the work is far from over. A lull in sales typically happens shortly after the book launch and you must be creative in how you keep the momentum going. I’m convinced that social media has been, and will continue to be, this book’s saving grace. I’m so thankful for this technology that, when used properly, can give self-published authors more of an chance for success.  

The sequel to Alarm Clock Dawn, entitled Dream No More is currently in the works. I’m so excited to share this book with the world.

Thank you for reading and supporting independent publishing!