The recently released memoir by Jacob Tomsky,Heads in Beds:A Reckless Memoir of Hotels,Hustles,and So-Called Hospitality,begs the question:is it better just not to know? Tomsky worked for years in the hotel business,and is finally telling all,a la Kitchen Confidential. Below is an excerpt,courtesy of Random House.
“Everyone was smiling. Everyone was friendly. Everyone had a name tag on. It was like a big crazy family,and we opened tomorrow. We were all in this together,and everyone in that banquet hall,after two weeks of service training,two full paychecks for nothing,couldn’t wait to unleash their skills on a real guest. The managers had whipped us into such a frenzy that if any actual guests had wandered into that party,we would have serviced them to death,mauled them,like ravenous service jackals.
Already the hotel had created the possibility of a home for me,a future. It seemed so glamorous,all the linens and chandeliers and sticky pastries. The hotel was beautiful,and I was honored to be a member of the opening team. It was at this very point I realized my life of constant relocation had led me to this nexus of relocation,this palace of the temporal where I could now stand still,the world moving around me,and,conversely,feel grounded. I studied Mr. Daniels as he circulated the party,all conversation politely cutting off when he unobtrusively joined a group. That was the position I wanted. That was a life I could own. And I distinctly felt,because this is exactly what they told us during orientation,that if I performed with dedication and dignity,took the tenets of luxury service to heart,hospitality would open herself up to me and I could find my life within the industry. I wanted to be king. It was possible to be king. I swore that day I’d be the general manager of my very own property.
This excitement carried over and crashed like a wave on the following day,the day the hotel opened. But before we were able to molest our first guest,we had to sit through the opening ceremony.
One thing about hotels:once they open,they never close.
I don’t mean they never go out of business;certainly they do. But the fact that a hotel could fail to be profitable astounds me. Why? The average cost to turn over a room,keep it operational per day,is between thirty and forty dollars. If you’re paying less than thirty dollars a night at a hotel/motel,I’d wager the cost to flip that room runs close to five dollars. Which makes me want to take a shower. At home. That forty-dollar turnover cost includes cleaning supplies,electricity,and hourly wage for housekeepers,minibar attendants,front desk agents (and all other employees needed to operate a room),as well as the cost of laundering the sheets. Everything. Compare that with an average room rate,and you can see why it’s a profitable business,one with a long history,going back to Mary and Joseph running up against a sold-out situation at the inn,forcing him to bed his pregnant wife in a dirty-ass manger.
The word “hotel” itself was appropriated from the French around 1765. Across the ocean,a hotel,or hôtel,referred not to public lodging but instead to a large government building,the house of a nobleman,or any such place where people gathered but no nightly accommodation was offered. America,at the time,was filled with grimy little inns and taverns,which provided beds for travelers and also functioned as a town’s shitty dive bar. Having a monopoly on the alcohol game was a boon,one given to tavern keepers in gratitude for putting up travelers,something no one wanted any part of. It wasn’t until George Washington decided to embark on the first presidential tour of his new kingdom that spotlights began to shine on these public houses of grossness. In order to present himself as a man of the people,he turned down offers to stay with associates and wealthy friends,instead lodging himself in tavern after tavern,sniffing at room after room,frowning at bed after bed. For the first time in American history,townships were ashamed of their manner of accommodating travelers. The country was unified and expanding. Something had to be done about our system of lodging.
So,in 1794,someone,some asshole,built the very first “hotel” in New York City:a 137-room job on Broadway,right there in lower Manhattan. It was the first structure built with the intention of being a “hotel,” a word that was quickly replacing the terms “inn” and “tavern,” even if it only meant that swarthy innkeepers were painting the word “Hotel” onto their crappy signs but still sloshing out the booze and making travelers sleep right next to each other in bug-ridden squalor. The first big hotels failed monetarily or burned to the ground or both. It wasn’t until railroad lines were getting stitched across America’s expanding fabric that hotels,big and small,began to prosper and offer people like me jobs.
So,profitability aside,what I am referring to here is not the fact that once a hotel opens it will never close (or be burned to the ground!) but that once we cut the ribbon on the hotel,once we opened the lobby doors,they never closed again. In fact,they unchained them because they were built without locks,as almost all hotel lobby doors are. Three o’clock in the morning—open. Christmas Eve,3:00 a.m.—open. Blackout—open. World War Whatever—open (with a price hike).
The mayor was kind enough to attend the opening ceremony,going down the line of sharp-dressed employees and shaking hands (or giving elaborate daps,depending on ethnicity). And then in came the public,and there we stood,smiling,proud,ready. The locals poured into the Bistro Lounge,strolled through the lobby as if it were a museum of classical art,put handprints on fresh glass doors,and began to scuff,mark,and mar the pristine landscape,putting their asses in chairs,creasing and bending the leather,scraping and marking the cutlery as they bit down hard on steak-tipped forks.
For a long while at the valet stand,well,we didn’t have shit to do. We stood those first few hours,feet spread and planted at shoulder width,arms behind our backs with our hands clasped,as we were taught to stand. Then we began to shift on our feet. Then we began to talk quietly out of the sides of our mouths. Then to turn our heads and talk openly at a normal volume. Then to go to the back office to check our cell phones. Not Perry,though:he remained at his post,and the most he did was shake his head when everyone started to get restless.”Excerpted from Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky. Copyright © 2012 by Jacob Tomsky. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday,a division of Random House,Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Fans of the popular Forks Over Knives way of eating finally have the cookbook they have been waiting for. Forks Over Knives –The Cookbook:Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year was released yesterday and is currently #22 on Amazon’s best seller list.
According to the author,followers of their eating plan have cut out meat,dairy,and oils and seen amazing results. I think I could possibly cut out the meat,but…the dairy? No ice cream,yogurt,cream for my coffee,sour cream,CHEESE? I just don’t think I could do it –but I sure do admire those who do.
Shea Vaughn,mother of actor Vince Vaughn,is a fitness expert,professional trainer and wellness coach. Vaughn has become a spokeswoman for creating well-being at any age with her recently released book Shea Vaughn’s Breakthrough:The 5 Living Principles to Defeat Stress,Look Great,and Find Total Well-being. In Breakthrough,Vaughn offers women her Five Living Principles within a self-styled East-meets-West lifestyle,that is tailored to address specific issues facing women over 45. You go,girl!
Many of our girlfriendbooks fans are (and quite a few of us as well) so we know some of the changes that can start between 35 and 55. It’s like we are in a secret society - where we chant daily “what the heck is happening to our bodies”? It doesn’t help to have to stare at Victoria Secret models who all appear effortlessly thin (but you can see what they really look like here). Even those of us who have been slim all our lives are no match for the hormonal changes brought about in midlife.
That is why we love Debra Waterhouse and her book Outsmarting the Midlife Fat Cell:Winning Weight Control Strategies for Women Over 35 to Stay Fit Through Menopause. She explains why our bodies are behaving this way. What she does not do is offer shallow promises about getting our 25-year-old bodies back.
At this time in our lives,our bodies are storing fat to help produce the estrogen we are losing. This is to help ease us through the menopause process. She encourages us to accept this just like accepting any other stage of our life. However,when women gain too much weight,Debra encourages weight loss and shows us how to lose it through diet and exercise that makes sense. Best of all,this woman embraces the power of chocolate!
Any of you out there over the age of 35 owe it to yourself to read this book. And to the throw the Victoria’s Secret catalog in the trash.
About the Author: Debra Waterhouse,M.P.H.,R.D.,is a nationally known nutrition expert and registered dietician. She is also the author of Why Women Need Chocolate. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area.
We have to hand it to Larry Shapiro. If anyone had suggested when out trying (note the *trying*) to run,that to ease the pain of burning calves and shockingly-out-of-shape lungs,we would have laughed (coughed?). But we took Shapiro’s advice in Zen and the Art of Running:The Path to Making Peace with Your Pace,and it’s like a zen miracle. The burning in our calves is not good or bad. It just is.
There is a difference. We are a little obsessed with personal finance books here,and one of our favorites recently is Be Thrifty:How to Live Better with Less. We love it because it doesn’t give you ideas about how to be cheap (that’s easy),but rather to live your life the way you like it at the lowest cost possible. From learning to cut your child’s hair like a pro,to lowering your health care expenses and staying even healthier in the process,this book is less about sacrifice,and more about quality of life (with a big bank account).
The challenge of weight-loss and weight-gain has plagued the self-esteem of women since they were old enough to be affected by society’s implications on the importance of one’s weight. Fat Chick is a story about one professional woman in New York City that could change your life.
After losing an important and well-deserved promotion to a model-thin colleague named Chelsea,Trish Collins feels that her self-esteem can only be affected by thin women. However,when she is upstaged by a stunningly beautiful plus-sized model,Trish feels that her life is falling apart in all aspects. Feeling the strong need to fix herself,Trish turns to a diet commitment.
Sticking to her diet and losing the weight she thought she needed to lose,Trish does not realize that she lost something so much more than the weight she shed:her humanity. Losing herself,she finds herself estranged from those who were close to her and takes a luxurious business trip.
However,upon her return,Trish realizes she is tired of being the fat chick,but also does not want to be the skinny bitch anymore. This realization leads Trish to searching for the perfect balance that she needs in her life both physically and emotionally.
Filled with witty dialogue as well as well-placed character development,“Fat Chick” is a story that every woman can relate to. The struggle to find personal balance is not a fairy tale,but rather a very real struggle that is a hard one to deal with. Perhaps with the well-formed character of Trish Collins,readers can find the road to their personal balance.
About the Author: With “Fat Chick” as her debut novel,Lorraine Duffy Merkl adds another section to her resume. A published author,a freelance journalist,and working as an advertising creative director and copywriter for multiple medias in New York City,Merkl has won various awards for all areas of her work including a Broadcast Design Award and the Emma Bombeck Humor Writer Award. You can visit her at www.lorraineduffymerkl.com.
Gene Stone thinks so in his paperback releasing this week,Forks Over Knives:The Plant-Based Way to Health. This book is a great introduction to a whole-foods,plant-based diet,one of the best things,Stone says,you can do for your health.
After a lifetime of having a great metabolism,several years ago it abruptly came to a halt. Add in a stressful political job (and 500 pizzas) and before I knew it,I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. (This happened in a Nordstrom’s dressing room –horror.) Twenty extra pounds had found a home on my 5’2″frame,and I honestly was in shock. I immediately figured there had to be something medically wrong with me. After a few trips to the doctor (and a thyroid test) I had to accept the truly sad fact –my time of eating with reckless abandon had come to an end. Me,who never met a cookie she didn’t like,had to go on a…..diet.
I had never been on a diet before. I did a little research,and decided to give Weight Watchers a try. Several times. Over a year I started and stopped Weight Watchers more than I could count. It was HARD.
However,I am very happy to report that my new year’s resolution this year remains intact. Since January 1st,my life has revolved around Weight Watchers! Eight pounds have been lost so far,and I know this time I am going to do it.
I have come to realize that all of those failed attempts were not failures –they were simply practice. So my message to all of you out there struggling with extra weight –don’t get discouraged by your practice sessions. You will make it to the Super Bowl!
My post this morning,though,is about another aspect of my quest to lose twenty pounds. Exercise. I was always active when I was young (although I believe now they refer to it as ADHD). But since a busy life has taken hold,it has been harder and harder to find the time. I learned something else in this process. I learned that I simply cannot do a workout dvd for more than 20 minutes. So I searched for some short,intense,workouts to do at home. And I found one that I love,that takes 10 minutes a day,and I wanted to share it. 10 Minute Solution:5 Day Get Fit Mix has absolved me of all of my excuses. Ten minutes a day,and it’s working! I have the very sore muscles to prove it.
I wish all of you out there with some weight to lose much luck in your Super Bowl.
Well,it has been a very busy month for us! We have a new website! While you are here,don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with us!
We also have a new look for our daily blog:Girlfriendbuys.com
Whew! All that,AND,we’ve been trying to drop a few pounds this month to fit into that bathing suit. Read about our adventure below.
But first –if you have been waiting to buy a Kindle from Amazon now is the perfect time! They have just reduced the price and it ships for free!
Now on to…..
This Is Why You’re Fat (And How to Get Thin Forever):Eat More,Cheat More,Lose More–and Keep the Weight Off
First of all,we had never been familiar with Jackie Warner before reading this book. We understand now there has been a little controversy swirling around her,but what we really cared about was our pooching stomachs.
Jackie’s method,at least in the first two weeks,is pretty unconventional. You can eat whatever you want –as long as you eat the list of foods each day,every day,for two weeks that she suggests. They include eggs,oatmeal,fruit,and a few others. We knew we could definitely do that.
And we did. For two weeks,every day,we ate the list of foods,knowing that we could eat whatever else we wanted. Then something magical happened. We did not lose weight. But what we did lose was our craving for sweets and carbs. It was suddenly gone. Years and years of ingrained cravings –vanished! We are now on our way to eating right –and losing pounds.
We give this book a big thumbs up –as we are truly grateful to Jackie!
This Is Why You’re Fat