The Journal of Mortifying Moments: A Novel

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9780345476289: The Journal of Mortifying Moments: A Novel

Kerry Spence is unfulfilled by her soulless career in advertising, disappointed by her dysfunctional relationship, and horrified by the ever-increasing size of her ass. Ever since her gorgeous, self-absorbed boyfriend Sam demoted her to late night hook-up status, she has fortified herself with prime-time TV and blissful binges on cream cheese frosting, awaiting an epiphany that will reveal her next move.
Of course, everybody in her life is full of advice. Her free-spirited divorcee mother–when not necking furiously with her much younger boyfriend– sagely counsels her daughter to do whatever it takes to snag Sam back, since, quite frankly, he is the best she can do. Her friends ply her with fruity cocktails and dispense bits of ‘Cosmo’ wisdom like “Divide your age in half and add seven–that’s the youngest man you are allowed to date” and “Scotch tape can eliminate forehead wrinkles.” And then there is Kerry’s shrink, the calm, unflappable therapist who suggests she start “a diary of past encounters with men that may be contributing to her negative and dysfunctional quasi-relationship.” Or, as Kerry sees it, a journal of mortifying moments.
Beginning with a kissing game gone bad in grade school, the journal jump-starts Kerry’s stroll down memory lane of man troubles. But just as Kerry decides her poorly dressed therapist is as crazy as everybody else in her orbit, she begins to realize the journal may actually make some sense–as she plumbs the depths of her most embarrassing experiences on a quest for personal awareness that will give her the strength to turn her life around–and just maybe find love again.
The Journal of Mortifying Moments is a hysterically funny glimpse into the quirky, slightly obsessive, and completely lovable mind of Kerry Spence. But somewhere amidst the laugh-out-loud hilarity of Kerry’s exploits emerges the story of a woman who learns to stop trying to be someone she’s not, and start loving the wonderful, quirky person she is, once and for all.

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About the Author:

Robyn Harding was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. In her indecisive youth she studied English Literature, journalism, and marketing before embarking on a seven-year career in the advertising industry. She is married and has two young children. The Journal of Mortifying Moments is her first novel.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

It was my therapist’s idea—the journal of mortifying moments. Of course, she called it “a diary of past encounters with men that may be contributing to your current negative and dysfunctional quasi-relationship.” Go back as far as you can remember, she encouraged me; the more painful and humiliating, the better. Easy for her to say. My therapist is this strong, independent, rather intimidating woman who has probably never even had a bad relationship, let alone kept a diary of all of them! The fact that she is large and masculine with an unflattering “helmet” hairstyle may also help keep her man troubles to a minimum.

But it is worth a try. Since my boyfriend, Sam, suggested we take a break to “explore our feelings as individuals,” my self-esteem has been in the toilet. Of course, “exploring our feelings as individuals” does not preclude us having casual sex whenever Sam wants it. And since he is so ridiculously good-looking and successful and sexy, and I am, well . . . not, I can’t seem to say no. Probably because I realize that I will never find anyone even remotely as wonderful as he is and will end up a morbidly obese, housebound spinster or, alternatively, married to some puny dweeb with back acne and nervous tics. My therapist says we need to get to the bottom of all these negative, self-defeating feelings. So, if writing down every devastating encounter I’ve had with the male species in painstaking detail will help me do that, then I’m game.

With a heavy sigh, I snap the small lilac notebook closed and bury it in the bottom of my desk drawer. I place a couple of outdated magazines and a stapler on top of it, just in case there is an office snoop.

I know it was supposed to be therapeutic, but I feel rather drained now. I could really use a glass of wine, but since it is only 8:45 am, I’ll have to settle for a chai latte. I sift through my wallet and find four dollars, just enough for a latte and a gingersnap at Starbucks. I am just swiveling in my chair to leave my tiny office when Sonja appears in the doorway. I gasp involuntarily at her pale, ice-queen presence.

“Where are you off to?” she says pointedly, indicating the purse slung over my shoulder. “You just got here!”

“Ummm . . . ,” I stammer, blushing like she’s just caught me reading porn in the office. “I—uh—I’m just off to the bathroom.” I tap my purse. “That time of the month, you know.”

She gapes at me, apparently repulsed by the thought. “Too much information, Kerry,” she says, holding up her hand lest I go on. “Don’t forget we’ve got a nine o’clock.” She leaves.

“Nope! I won’t forget!” I call after her. “I’ll just take care of . . . you know . . . things.” I tap my purse again. “And meet you in the boardroom!”

As I stride through the spare and modern lobby of Ferris & Shannon Advertising, I mentally berate myself. Why do I let her get to me like that? Sonja has this uncanny ability to make me feel awkward and embarrassed about the smallest, most inconsequential things—for example, having my period. I mean, I’m not even having my period! Not that there’s anything wrong with having it—it’s the most normal, natural thing in the world. Why does Sonja make me feel like having my period is some embarrassing secret? I mean, we all have it! Except probably Sonja—I would imagine she is too thin to menstruate.

No time for my chai latte now. I must go change my imaginary tampon and get to the boardroom.

I am scheduled to present a communications plan for our client Prism Communications, the second-largest Internet service provider in the country and one of the largest companies in Seattle. It’s an internal presentation only, which is actually more nerve-racking than presenting to the client. Sonja is very, very difficult to please.

As I approach the boardroom, I become aware of a buzz of conversation emanating from within. I walk inside to see thirty people gathered around an enormous slab-concrete table. Okay, not really thirty, but ten—which is five times the number I was expecting. Sonja reads the surprise and chagrin on my face.

“Kerry, I’ve invited the team in to hear your communications plan and provide feedback. This is an important campaign, and it is essential that we have internal consensus.”

“Okay,” I say as cheerfully as I can muster. “I’ll just run and make seven more copies.”

I return and distribute the document around the table. In attendance are

4Dave, creative director—an obnoxious, arrogant A-hole so devoid of humanity that many of us suspect he is a serial killer

4Tanya, art director—a goth chick, sleeping with Dave, so therefore, also an obnoxious, arrogant A-hole

4Dennis, production manager—short nerd who will emphatically support whatever Dave says because (a) he is afraid of being murdered by him, or (b) he is just a major butt-smooch

4Terry, media director—dog-loving spinster—or possibly lesbian, given short, spiky haircut

4Louise, media planner—chubby, permed, cat-loving spinster—probably not lesbian, given Richard Gere collage on office wall

4Fiona, account planner—a small, nervous Chihuahua of a woman who’s extremely passionate about her job, although none of us really understand what she does

4Claire, online manager—sweet and soft-spoken, completely wrong for this business

4Maya, manager of direct marketing—tall stylish brunette who is nice but very keen on her job; given my attitude, this precludes our being friends

4Gavin, account executive—a skinny wiener who is basically Sonja’s foster child and will soon be promoted to take over my job even though he is only nine

4And Sonja, the queen of Norway

“All right, everyone,” Sonja begins, tucking her immaculate blond bob behind one ear. “Kerry is going to take us through her initial attempt at a communications plan. Feel free to jump in with any comments or criticisms that come to mind.”

“Thanks,” I say, and then begin to address my document. “Given that back-to-school is a very busy time for new Internet sign-ups—”

“The market is totally cluttered at that time of year,” interjects Louise, the media planner/Richard Gere fan. “The creative will have to be breakthrough if we want to have any impact.”

“Why don’t you let the creative team worry about that?” Dave mutters.

“Dave, I don’t think that attitude is really conducive to getting the most out of this meeting,” account planner Fiona says nervously. “We need to take a team approach if we’re going to move Prism into the number-one position. Now, my research bears out the fact that students twelve to eighteen crave a high-speed connection. Their parents, however, often feel that a dial-up connection is sufficient.”

“That’s a joke!” says Gavin, who is practically in the twelve- to eighteen-demographic.

Sonja laughs and smiles at him adoringly. “Isn’t it?”

“Anyway . . . ,” I continue. “Given that September is traditionally the strongest month for sales, I felt we should launch our media plan in late August—”

“August?” Terry, the lesbian media director croaks. (She is a heavy smoker.) “No one watches TV in August!”

“Well, TV isn’t actually in the plan. We didn’t really have the budget.”

“What!” Dave explodes. “If they’re not going to do TV, they may as well close their fucking doors!”

“There are media that are just as effective on the younger demographic!” Fiona screams back. “My research shows that transit shelters and cinema advertising resonate with young people!”

“Perhaps an online component?” Claire asks hopefully, but no one listens.

“You can shove your research!” Dave says to Fiona. “I’ve been in this business for fifteen years, and I know that clients who don’t put their money where their mouth is don’t survive.”

“That’s it!” Fiona stands up. Her hands are shaking as she gathers her papers into a neat leather folder. “Obviously my input isn’t appreciated here.” She storms out.

The meeting progresses in this antagonistic manner for seventeen hours until the receptionist knocks on the door and says that the room is booked for a client presentation. As I pack up my belongings, I realize that I have read exactly three sentences of my communications plan. Sonja follows me to my office.

“Thanks, Kerry,” she says. “Now if you’ll just address the issues brought up today and integrate the suggestions from media and DM, I’d like the finished plan on my desk by nine tomorrow.” She smiles tightly.

I feel like crying. I lost interest in all the bickering and conflicting opinions shortly after Fiona left, and sat thinking about where I’m going to go for drinks with the girls this weekend. I have no idea what the issues or suggestions were! I hate my job.

An hour later my best work-friend, Trevor, appears in my office. “Are we going for sushi?”

“I can’t,” I say dejectedly. “Sonja needs this revised plan by tomorrow morning, and I don’t even know what I’m doing.”

“I’ll help you over lunch,” Trevor offers, and I stifle a guffaw. Trevor is an account manager, too, but it is the general opinion of the agency that he charmed his ...

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Book Description Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Ships From Canada. New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 308 p. Audience: General/trade. From Publishers Weekly: "'"It was my therapist's idea the journal of mortifying moments. "'" Thus begins Kerry Spence's revisitation of all the most miserable episodes in her life in an effort to overhaul her self-defeating dating habits. It's not just her love life that's a problem: her career in advertising is going nowhere, and her friends are making choices she cannot begin to comprehend. Just in case the journal doesn't do the trick, she visits Ramona the psychic, who helps her to "'"read what our intuition already knows, "'" and consults Dr. Rainbow Hashawarma's book You Get What You Give. Primed with plenty of advice, she decides to break the unhealthy hook-up cycle with her hot semiboyfriend Sam, take up yoga and volunteer somewhere meaningful. The latter goal brings the "'"high-to medium-risk teen"'" Tiffany into her life. Kerry begins to gain perspect. Bookseller Inventory # 8698782871

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Book Description Ballantine Books, Westminster, Maryland, U.S.A., 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. From Publishers Weekly: "It was my therapist's idea the journal of mortifying moments. " Thus begins Kerry Spence's revisitation of all the most miserable episodes in her life in an effort to overhaul her self-defeating dating habits. It's not just her love life that's a problem: her career in advertising is going nowhere, and her friends are making choices she cannot begin to comprehend. Just in case the journal doesn't do the trick, she visits Ramona the psychic, who helps her to "read what our intuition already knows, " and consults Dr. Rainbow Hashawarma's book You Get What You Give. Primed with plenty of advice, she decides to break the unhealthy hook-up cycle with her hot semiboyfriend Sam, take up yoga and volunteer somewhere meaningful. The latter goal brings the "high-to medium-risk teen" Tiffany into her life. Kerry begins to gain perspective on her own life as she coaxes her angst-ridden mentee through teenagehood. She also meets the charming Nick, who almost makes her forget about Sam. Just when it seems that Kerry's life is sorting itself out, she's confronted with an unexpected turn of events that appears to solve her problems. But is it that easy? Of course not. Kerry's cringe-worthy worst memories are laugh-out-loud funny, and chick-lit fans will applaud her honest efforts to break bad behavior patterns. Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Book Description Kerry Spence is unfulfilled by her soulless career in advertising, disappointed by her dysfunctional relationship, and horrified by the ever-increasing size of her ass. Ever since her gorgeous, self-absorbed boyfriend Sam demoted her to late night hook-up status, she has fortified herself with prime-time TV and blissful binges on cream cheese frosting, awaiting an epiphany that will reveal her next move. Of course, everybody in her life is full of advice. Her free-spirited divorcee mother when not necking furiously with her much younger boyfri. Bookseller Inventory # 0002708

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