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Welcome to This Awful/Awesome Life! My name is Frances Joyce. I am the publisher and editor of this magazine. We'll be exploring different topics each month to inform, entertain and inspire you. Meet new authors, sharpen your brain and pick up a few tips on life, love, entertaining and business. Enjoy and please share!

The Inaugural Issue of This Awful-Awesome Life - Bosses 3/17

Who's the Boss?

We decided to switch sites for This Awful-Awesome Life because we could not save our previous months on our old system. Jay Speyerer did an amazing job designing the magazine, but could not continue in this capacity because of the demands of his own business, Legacy Road Communications.

Jay passed away suddenly before he was able to transfer his files to me, so I have had to recreate the previous issues from my own files. Some wonderful articles have been lost, but I have been able to redesign most of the content of these issues.

I'm going to post each back issue as one article with a short table of contents  to let you know what is here. Scroll down to specific articles and/or enjoy the entire issue. When I get more familiar with Squarespace, I will devise a system to archive previous issues and separate these articles, so our readers will be able to easily find previous articles by their favorite topics or writers.

Table of Contents:


How to be a Great Boss by Fran Joyce

Linda Cahill: From Teamster to Entrepreneur by Fran Joyce

Lessons from the Factory Floor by Terry Kish

Fictional Bosses Quiz

Deb Herman: Balancing Management Styles by Fran Joyce

24-7/365 by David Maniet

Joy Bufalini: You are always the Boss of Your Own Mind by Fran Joyce

Some Bosses You Want to Remember by Jackie Zataweski

Book Review:Toward Two Words by Orlando Bartro

Miscellaneous Boss Tales

Read All about it by Jackie Zataweski

A Cartoon by Francis Cleetus


Our inaugural issue discusses bosses - everybody's had one and everybody has a boss story.

Jay and I were both authors. After searching for a place to write about things that interested us and hopefully interested you, we decided to create one.

Life can be awful. Life can be awesome. Sometimes a little awful makes you appreciate what's awesome.

Imagine one online magazine bringing together people and places. What do we have in common in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Vermont, Florida, California, Georgia, Sweden, and Australia? We have people like you making their lives and the lives of everyone they encounter just a little bit more awesome. Unlike traditional magazines, we'll have articles, stories, book reviews, pictures, quizzes, videos, and some links to other websites.

We have questions, and we are going to look for answers together. We are looking for people in the Pittsburgh area, all around the country and the world willing to share their ideas on particular subjects and contribute articles or videos to our magazine. If you have writing chops and something to share contact me at We don't currently pay for submissions, but send us your photo, and we'll put it with your by-line.

We will choose the topics for each month which we reveal in an article cleverly titled, "Next Month in This Awful-Awesome Life."  These topics will also be posted on our Facebook page.

We are also looking for sponsors who want to advertise to an audience with unlimited potential at very affordable prices. If you own a business and you think your advertising dollars should buy more than a couple of inches of space on a page, you've come to the right place, but more about that later.

I don't know about you, but I'm so tired of hearing about problems. I'm ready to try some solutions, and I'm ready to see the world as the awesome amazing place it can be. We have billions of caring wonderful people out there. Why should we focus on a few despicable individuals and give them their fifteen minutes of fame? Let's take back this awesome life and celebrate each day!

How to be A Great Boss

By Fran Joyce

The idea of freelancing always appealed to me because I could work at my own pace, but my deadline would keep me focused. As a content coordinator, I was in charge of what to put in a publication (so I thought). It worked great...for a while. Suddenly, there were "too many cooks in the kitchen, and someone was trying to take my apron."

My first day in my high school geometry class, my instructor, Mr. McCartney,  printed the word "ASSUME" on the blackboard. "Assume nothing," he said brandishing his piece of chalk and circling the words "ASS" and "ME,"  "or, you will make an ass out of 'U' and 'ME.'"


We all giggled and groaned at his pun, but after the first few theorems we got it. Don't assume things or you look stupid. You make everyone involved look stupid. You lose points for it in geometry class, the workplace and in life.

What does this have to do with being a great boss? Everything!

If you are going to be a boss, decide what kind of boss you are going to be. If it's "hands on" you have to know what is going on, and you have to collaborate with the people involved. If you want to be an authoritarian, you have to put the rules out front and stick to them.

What you can't do is pop in, put on an apron, stick your finger in the pie and decide it should be cherry if your client ordered apple. Know what's going on. If you don't know...ask. Ask the people directly involved.

Communicate. The best way to make sure you have a successful business is to communicate. Let people know what you expect and be smart enough to let them tell you what they need to do to achieve that outcome. When your business becomes too large to be everywhere, hire people who understand the need to communicate. Make sure they do not make assumptions, and all will be well.

When I was hired to work in the circulation department for a newspaper, my training period took me through every facet of the business. I even met with building maintenance and the head of the janitorial staff to see how they kept the building clean and running smoothly. I learned to respect the contributions of every department and the people in them.

When I created This Awful/Awesome Life the idea was to be my own boss and do it all. What I realized is that an online magazine needs variety and different perspectives to make it interesting. I'm not saying bosses aren't important. Someone has to make the tough choices.

I'm choosing not to be "the boss," but to be part of a creative team who will work together to create something special.

I hope you enjoy our first issue and share it with others. Keep coming back because every issue will be different.

Linda Cahill: From Teamster to Entrepreneur

By Fran Joyce

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Linda Cahill

Linda Cahill took an unconventional path to becoming her own boss. She started out as an administrative assistant with the Teamsters.

“My first boss was a gem,” she says. “He recognized my potential and hired me to be an integral part of his team. Under his mentorship, I became a business agent and negotiated labor contracts for the turnpike workers in one of the three unions between Harrisburg and the Ohio state line.”

Linda and her boss had to run for re-election every three years. Their names were on the ballot together, so a good working relationship was essential for both to keep their jobs.

When Linda’s boss decided to retire he asked her to run for his position. Linda’s husband Joe was a firefighter for the city of Pittsburgh, and they had two young children. After much consideration, she declined.

His replacement turned out to be a different type of boss. Her new superior didn’t take women seriously in the workplace.

“We used to take turns making coffee. Our offices did not have kitchen facilities to wash dirty dishes, so we used paper cups. He refused to use them; he never made coffee. That was ‘a woman’s job.’ He brought a mug from home and insisted his secretary bring him coffee and wash his mug out every night in the bathroom sink. If the clean mug wasn’t on his desk when he came in, he went ballistic. The mug was symbolic of the way he treated his team. My 12 years of experience as a business agent meant nothing. When re-election time came around in 1999, I’d had enough.”

After 25 years with the Teamsters, she had a tough decision to make. If she were re-elected, her supervisor would be too. She campaigned to lose, and they lost by 12 votes which is ironically the same number of votes she won by in her first election. Linda was entitled to unemployment, so she used the time to decide her next move. She signed up to receive her pension and began her new career with The Pampered Chef.

“I’d hosted a few parties on the weekends and it seemed a good fit for me, so I went full time with The Pampered Chef as an independent contractor. I was my own boss. I set my own hours and established a workday routine. They provided coaches and mentors, but it was up to me to succeed and build my own team. I recruited some amazing women and helped them establish their own successful businesses. Because they were also independent contractors, they were under no obligation to attend meetings or accept my guidance.”

Linda credits both her Teamsters bosses with helping her develop her management style. She leads by example. She respects and acknowledges the talents of each member of her team. She created a successful business model, and she makes her meetings fun and informative. Linda responded to inquiries from her team promptly and her enthusiasm was contagious.

“I loved my time with The Pampered Chef,” says Linda. “In 2016 after being recruited for several years by Park Lane Jewelry, I decided I was ready for a new adventure. I am a Division Leader for them, and I am still my own boss. Although I work from home, I live by my schedule. I color code it, so I can see how my time is being spent. I put my personal commitments in first. I take time for me. Five years ago I started a Zumba class, and I love it. It’s the first exercise program I ever started and stuck with. I add my husband’s schedule and then my work commitments. When you are your own boss, make sure you value your employee.”

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Since the publication of this article, Linda Cahill is once again an independent consultant with the Pampered Chef. In September 2017, she became a regular contributor to This Awful-Awesome Life in our new Foods Section. Please like and follow her on Facebook and and Twitter at Visit her website, or email at

Lessons from the Factory Floor

by Terry Kish

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While I’ve been working in writing and editing for quite some time, my first career was in manufacturing. During my almost 18 years in the factory, I worked for, and with, many excellent people who taught me more than I ever learned in college. Here are some of my favorite lessons.

Write it down. Before I was on my own as a production supervisor, I spent time shadowing a few. The most efficient – and least stressed – supervisors were the ones who wrote everything down. In general, manufacturing was a balancing act; manpower was moved from line to line depending on production quotas, equipment breakdowns, and many other factors. Having a written record of what needed done saved time and reduced errors. As my responsibilities increased, I used my notes to document and follow-up on maintenance and quality issues, as well as track project progress and deadlines.

Communicate clearly.  Sometimes, when a production line went down, there would be nowhere to move the manpower. The first time this happened, I instructed my employees to “clean up” the work area and then went to check on a quality problem on another line. Twenty minutes later, the original area looked much the same as when I left! With perfect timing, my general supervisor walked by and asked why I didn’t have my employees cleaning. After explaining that I tried to do that, he suggested giving each person a specific task: Joe, pick up the trash, George, sweep the floor. Giving clear, concise instructions is still good advice!

Stuff happens – stay calm. Even when things seem to be running smoothly, stuff happens. Each business has its unique challenges, and manufacturing is no exception. Our plant produced hundreds of different parts, most which were shipped to outside customers. The quality control department dealt with customer complaints, and while the majority of complaints were minor, on occasion we would get a call from a customer screaming that they were going to have to shut down because of a problem with one of our parts.

Now, in manufacturing, idling a customer is something to be avoided at all costs; so when you received a call like that, things got tense. Fortunately, the quality control personnel were masters at defusing these situations. They taught me to stay calm, define the problem, and systematically work to resolve it by involving both the customer and the correct plant personnel.

Treat others as you want to be treated. When I started working in manufacturing, I was one of about five women on the production floor and was at least 20 years younger than most of the men that I supervised. An experienced supervisor told me that respect had to be earned, and that the easiest way to earn it was to treat others the way that I wanted to be treated. If I wanted someone to listen to me, I had to listen to them. If I wanted my employees to be conscientious and hard-working, I needed to set that example. I came in early and left late to make sure I was well prepared for my shift and that I provided a good line-up for the person following me. By respecting others, it didn’t take too long to earn their respect.

While my career choices appear completely unrelated, the lessons I learned from the factory floor prepared me well for writing – or for almost any line of work!

Terry Kish is a freelance writer in the Pittsburgh area. In September, 2017, she became an integral part of  the writing team for This Awful-Awesome Life and we are thrilled.

Take the Bosses Quiz:

Fictional Bosses We Love to Hate and Hate to Love

No discussion of bosses would be complete without the mention of bosses we’ve read about in our favorite books, watched on the silver screen or tuned into each week on television.

Good, bad, funny or totally incompetent, these bosses have helped shape our perception of our working environment almost as much as our real bosses. Instead of writing a laundry list of characters, we’re going to give you a little quiz to see how well you know your fictional bosses. The answers will be posted at the end of this quiz, but try not to peek. Who are your favorite fictional bosses?

1.    Actor David White played this advertising executive who was Darrin Stephen’s boss on the television series Bewitched.

2.    He is the boss you love to hate in It’s A Wonderful Life. Bonus question – what actor played him?

3.    He’s Homer Simpson’s boss.

4.    Who said, “It’s all about bucks, kid. The rest is conversation.”?

5.    She is the powerful New York City based editor in chief of the fictional fashion magazine, Runway.

6.    Charles Dicken created this boss to teach us about the Christmas spirit.

7.    Actress Kirsten Nelson plays this fictional chief of police in Santa Barbara, California who relies on the talents of this “psychic detective” and his partner.

8.    Judi Dench breathed new life into this famous British boss who keeps 007 mostly in line.

9.    Paul Giamatti’s character, U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades is after this ambitious hedge fund king in Billions.

10. John Hamm and John Slattery play these two Madison Avenue men.

11. He loves TPS reports and always needs you to come in on the weekend, mmmk, cause that’d be great.

12. Vanessa Williams plays this ruthless former super model who lives for MODE magazine and Botox.

13. Denzel Washington portrays this real life crime boss who takes control of the Harlem crime scene after the death of his boss, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson.

14. He keeps a “World’s Best Boss” mug on his desk and makes us laugh with lines like, “Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy – Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”

15. Ed Asner played this lovable tough guy who kept Mary Richards and Ted Baxter in line.


1. Larry Tate  2. Mr. Potter played by Lionel Barrymore 3. Montgomery Burns 4. Gordon Gekko 5. Miranda Priestley 6. Ebenezer Scrooge 7. Karen Vick from Psych with “Psychic detective” Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster. 8. “M” 9. Bobby Axelrod 10. Don Draper and Roger Sterling 11. Bill Lumbergh 12. Wilhelmina Slater 13. Frank Lucas 14. Michael Scott 15. Lou Grant

Deb Herman: Balancing Management Styles

By Fran Joyce

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Deb Herman

Deb Herman spent 30+ working in corporate marketing departments. Now, she is an entrepreneur with her own successful business. She credits two former bosses with disparate styles as her major influences.

“One of my first bosses was a micro-manager. For ten years, I worked under her ever watchful eye,” she said. “I was the VP of marketing for a bank, and I supervised a team of excellent employees.  At staff meetings she either threw out our ideas or made drastic changes to our proposed marketing campaigns. Countless hours of work and creativity were wasted because she wanted everything her way. Morale was down, and I lost many valuable team members during those years. Our next boss was young, and she encouraged new ideas. She was totally hands off which at first seemed ideal, but she was also not responsive when we needed guidance.”

After Deb’s position was eliminated at the bank, she had to rethink her career.

“I enjoyed working with my team. I felt comfortable delegating responsibility, but I never liked being the person doing the performance appraisals or employee reviews. I especially hated the idea of firing people. When you are the boss, there will come a time when you have to let someone go because of budgetary reasons or because they are not doing their job properly. I didn’t want to be in that position.”

Deb’s brother and sister were both entrepreneurs; she decided to follow their lead and start her own business. From her siblings’ experiences, Deb knew building a business would take time, and she would initially need to budget to compensate for her lost income.

Deb had valuable advertising experience and marketing and managerial skills. She started networking and connected with several small business owners who wanted to utilize her skills to promote their businesses.

“To have a successful business, I had to become my own boss. I have to stay disciplined and focused. Working from home has its advantages and disadvantages. I no longer commute, but my work world and my family life now have to co-exist in close proximity. With a husband and four kids having designated work hours can be tricky. I have to track my time carefully. It would be great if my only concern was working with clients. I had to design and maintain a business website. As my own boss, I have to record my income and expenses and pay quarterly taxes. I have to market my skills to bring in clients. I spend part of each day networking, so I am making calls, sending emails and responding to emails and phone messages. Then, I work on proposals for prospective clients and develop strategies and marketing packages for new and existing clients.”

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Deb is her only employee. Occasionally, she hires sub-contractors to help with specialized tasks or major campaigns.  She likes using sub-contractors instead of employees because the task and her expectations are spelled out for each job. She also likes supporting fellow entrepreneurs.

According to Deb, “Many of my clients are start-ups, and it is part of my job to help them establish a productive work environment. Since becoming my own boss I have learned so much about my own strengths and weaknesses. I always try to remember the work environment my previous bosses created and how it made me feel. Whether you are the sole employee or you have a large or small staff, it’s important to always ask, ‘What can I do to help you succeed?’ It’s equally important to listen to the answer.”

Deb Herman is a marketing consultant and the owner of Deb Herman Marketing Communications. To find out more about her services, visit her website,


By David Maniet

While I was driving to work at 6:30am to plow snow out of the parking lot of my business, I heard a radio commercial about flipping houses. “This is the business for you,” it said. “Being your own boss is the way to life’s riches and great success.” It made me stop and ponder my career choices. I had never considered flipping houses. 

I am the boss of several successful small businesses, but have I found my way to life’s riches and great success? By my second swipe across the parking lot with the snow plow, I was beginning to give more thought to flipping houses.

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Being the boss certainly has its perks, but more often than not when something needs done, the buck stops here. Being the boss doesn’t mean you can come to work and go home when you please… sometimes I think you never get to go home. My responsibilities are there 24-7/365.

Growing up, my family had a produce business in the strip district. I went from a weekend/after school and summer employee to the boss because of a family illness. Even back in the days of running my family’s business everyone got to go home but the boss. One early Christmas morning, before the kids awoke to open presents, a customer called wanting me to make a delivery! To say my wife was not happy would be an understatement.

Early in life, I worked at Burger Chef flipping hamburgers, and at Beverly Pharmacy delivering prescriptions and had bosses. I really liked those folks and took orders from them and respected them. But, this old dog has been playing the boss since the days my family asked me to run the business.

For many years, I learned the hard way (old school) by making mistakes, fixing mistakes, and sometimes paying the price or begging forgiveness.  There was the right way, the wrong way, and David’s way (most of the time David’s way was the right way because I was the boss, not necessarily because it was correct).

Being the boss bordered on being royalty, because I began to use the collective “we.”  “We” would fix a problem as soon as possible. “We” would make the deal work, and “we” would finish projects when everyone went home.

Well, back to flipping houses, I am not a fan of real estate’s terrible T’s (toilets, tenants and trash). I can swing a hammer. I am not afraid of electricity, but I really cannot do plumbing; it makes me swear, and it’s just not a pretty sight. I like people, but will I like them at 3am when something breaks and “we” have to get out of bed and fix it? Who’s the boss, then? There’s also the matter of the trash. Have you ever remodeled a room in your house? The amount of construction debris is unbelievable. You need dumpsters and green bags out the wazoo. “We” would have to order them, fill them, and pay to have them hauled away. Could I handle toilets, tenants and trash 24-7/365?

“Being your own boss is the way to life’s riches and great success.” I thought about that again. As a financial planner, I work for my clients. Technically, they are my bosses. I made another pass with the plow and realized I liked being my own boss even if it meant working for other people. For those of you who decide to try flipping or any other business, I wish you great success, but get ready to be there 24-7/365.

David Maniet owns Maniet Financial Services Network, a full service independent financial advisory firm and several small businesses in the Pittsburgh area. Visit MFSN on the Web at, email or call 412-341-0800 or Toll free 866-4-MANIET to learn more about the products and services offered. MFSN is located in the Murovich Building at 1653 McFarland Road Pittsburgh, PA 15216. Securities and advisory services offered through TRIAD ADVISORS, Inc. Member FINRA & SIPC

Joy Bufalini: You are always the Boss of Your Own Mind by Fran Joyce

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Joy Bufalini is a mindset coach. She is the founder/leader of Pittsburgh Women’s Mastermind for Entrepreneurs.

Joy was a teacher. Being in charge of a classroom full of students was challenging and rewarding. It became frustrating when her success as a teacher depended more on standardized test scores than her ability to engage her students in meaningful learning.

“I never had a bad boss, but I didn’t like having a boss,” Joy admits. “I had no problem teaching the approved curriculum, but I disliked being told how to teach or manage my classroom.”

Sixteen years ago, Joy gave birth to twins who were born prematurely. Because one of the twins faced physical and developmental issues, Joy felt she could not return to teaching or a 9-5 job. If she became her own boss, she could tailor her schedule around the needs of her family. No one in her family had ever been an entrepreneur, so she didn’t have a reference point.

“To help develop a strategy to address my daughter’s special needs, I worked with a life coach, a psychologist and a counselor. My experience with the life coach was so positive, I decided I wanted to help people develop their strengths and learn to focus on the positives in their lives. In 2011, I started my own LLC.”

“What goes on in your head matters; you may not be able to control what happens in your life, but you can decide how to respond to challenges and opportunities. The mind and the body respond to what it believes to be true. When patients in medical studies are given a placebo instead of the actual drug, 30% believe they are experiencing relief of their symptoms. If you want to be successful, you must realize you are always the boss of your own mind.”

For Joy, being a good boss means taking care of her own mindset. To stay motivated, she believes people need to be self-aware and recognize what is within them.  What is your passion? What gives you peace and brings you happiness?

Joy gets up at 5:15am. She journals and reads a passage or chapter from aspiritual/motivational book before her husband andthree children get up and start their daily routines. After the kids leave for school, she meditates and uses an EFT technique to get in the proper mindset for her work day.

According to Joy, “If you are not self-employed, it is still important to be self-aware because you need to be able to separate yourself from your job or your boss. Don’t invest your entire self-worth in what your boss says. Often conflict is about their agenda; it’s not personally directed at you. Keep business about business and not personalities.”

Joy cites four key areas she addresses to help people become the boss of their own mind.

  1. A life coach is not a boss. Her job is to help you gain insights and perspectives, but not to give your rules or a formula to follow. As she provides guidance and suggestions, it is your job to make the inner and outer changes.
  2. It’s helpful to see yourself as others see you, but never allow family, friends, bosses or co-workers to define you. Sometimes others like to pigeon hole you with their expectations or lack of expectations. You get to decide who you are, and you can learn to embrace strengths and identify weaknesses.
  3. Learn to recognize the difference between procrastination and intuition. Sometimes there is a reason not to move forward. Know when you are playing it safe and when you are being sensible. Listen to your “gut” and be willing to make adjustments. You must develop your “trust muscle” and own your choices.
  4. There is no one magic bullet for success. Failure can happen; not everything you try will be successful. Failure should be viewed as a learning experience not a permanent roadblock to success. Focus on what is important and don’t let negative voices from the past keep you from success.

Joy Bufalini is a Mindset Coach and speaker who helps women to release the inner blocks that hold them back personally and professionally. She is a certified life coach and the Leader of Pittsburgh Women’s Mastermind for Entrepreneurs. Pittsburgh Women’s Mastermind is the place to connect with like-minded women who are ready to up-level both personally and professionally. Email:

Some Bosses You Want to Remember

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By Jackie Zataweski

In 2005, I was at loose ends. The year before, I’d moved from the county where I had always lived to a neighboring one. It was less than 15 miles away, but it seemed more distant. I saw family and friends regularly, but few of them seemed willing to cross the county line. Working only part-time, I turned to the community library to help fill my idle hours.

I saw a notice about a “Friends of the Library” group forming in my community. I persuaded my introverted self to attend a meeting. At the meeting, we discussed the importance of fundraising.  Fundraising was certainly important, but I also wanted to be involved in a more hands-on way. Before moving, I owned a used book store and volunteered at my home library; these activities paved the way to a new volunteer experience.



The library’s director was new to the library and her position and, and she appreciated my enthusiasm and prior knowledge. Linell encouraged my questions and listened to suggestions. She entrusted me with greater responsibilities as my interest and skill set grew. She hired me as soon as her own probationary period ended. We worked well together and shared in each other’s professional growth.

As a new director, Linell had to meet educational standards; the class material became shared knowledge. Continuing Education classes were required.  Having the opportunity to attend regional training sessions with my boss brought the bigger picture into focus. Throughout the relatively short time we spent working together, Linell continued to be a source of encouragement and inspiration. She was unafraid to break away from “the way things have always been done” to try new ideas, and she cared about making a difference to the community she served.

Linell left the library field several years ago, but she continues to make a difference in my life. She encouraged me to return to school to become a professional librarian, patiently listened to me rant when I felt overwhelmed by the combination of school and work, and cheered me on when I was hesitant to apply for a director’s position out of state. I was offered the position and I accepted. I don’t know if my success would have happened had Linell not been there in the beginning.

Jackie Zataweski is the director of the Nottoway County Library in Crewe, Virginia.

Book Review: Toward Two Words by Orlando Bartro

By Fran Joyce

Orlando Bartro has had a life-long love affair with literature. His pen name pays homage to the hero in Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

“Jane Austen is the greatest novelist in the language,” he says. “So, I take a work such as Northanger Abbey and use it as a jumping off place. Where would Austen have taken her characters if she had not been limited by the expectations of her audience? Then, I transmute daily impressions, such as from shapes, animals and furniture, into inspirations; and I combine these inspirations in a new framework derived from my re-imagination of Austen’s Northanger Abbey. In the end, Matthew Mathelson’s wanderings in his Mansion of Left Turns have only ghostly connections with Catherine’s wanderings in Austen’s famous abbey.”

Bartro does not deal in historical fiction or time travel which takes a character from a beloved classic and puts them in 2017. Instead, he imagines new characters and embodies their attitudes in a new and unique setting.

Toward Two Words is often Kafkaesque and reminiscent of the absurdism movement (benign indifference) associated with the works of Albert Camus, Samuel Beckett or Edward Albee. But, Bartro wants you to enjoy the story on whatever level you choose, so relax, reading one of his books is as much about having fun as it is about understanding every aspect of symbolism.

The main character, Matthew Mathelson, is obsessed with rectangles. He sees the human body as rectangular, except for the head. He notes rectangles appear in man-made creations while circles seem to be most prevalent in nature. Rectangles are the most used shape in logo design.

Mathelson works at the Polka Dot Hotel which he refers to as “the Mansion of Left Turns” because of its absence of circular shapes. If you keep making left turns you can essentially go around in circles in a rectangular structure. Think about it.

Mathelson is a boss who struggles with authority. He dislikes his boss Mr. Plute, but secretly aspires to someday be the Head Head - each boss is the head of a department and the Head Head is in charge of the hotel. He spends much of his time trying to get work done, but stopping to rest on the plethora of sofas at the hotel. In literature, sofas often symbolize a false sense of security or something taken for granted. Sofas are typically rectangular. Rectangles denote stability, honesty, order and conformity. Bartro told me he uses sofas in the book because he is fascinated by the absurdity of one person sitting alone on a sofa, which is “something like a giant chair.”

Mathelson flounders his way through life in a series of left turns colliding haplessly with women from his past and the responsibilities of his job. His obsession with Roselyn Spring, a former lover and the mother of his son is woven into the story in a series of flashbacks and references to her changing physique. Once angular and beautiful, Roselyn is now grotesque and round to the point of being almost unrecognizable. I will leave it to you to recognize the significance of her transformation.

Toward Two Words is a welcome break from the standard fare of the typical Bestseller List.  I enjoyed interviewing a fellow author who loves books and respects authors, and I gained a new appreciation for the patterns in my own life.

Toward Two Words is a publication of Smits & Prins Publishing Company, Pittsburgh, PA (Hardcover and paperback drawing for Toward Two Words by Eveline Tarunadjaja).

It is available on  You can view Orlando Bartro’s videos on writing on YouTube at the Grassy Elbow. He is currently writing two novels and a play.

Read All about it

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Jackie Zataweski

Just as there are many types of people in the world, there are also many types of bosses. Many will cheer your successes. Others might secretly – or not so secretly – gloat when you fail. Some may simply be indifferent.

There are several excellent books about how to succeed. Maybe you have plans to one day be the boss, or you want to learn the best way to survive your workday. Perhaps, you’re not in the work force, but you want to explore the subject. Whatever your reason for reading about bosses, there is a wealth of books available.

Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is considered a classic in the field. First published in 1937, it has been revised and reprinted many times and is as relevant today as ever. How relevant? Self-made billionaire Warren Buffet read it as a teen and said of the book, “It changed my life.”

Need more help in the work place? CBS News offers a list of 10 Books Your Boss Doesn’t Want You to Read and The Peter Principle is included on this list. A relative youngster compared to Carnegie’s book, Laurence Peter’s work is approaching its fiftieth year in publication and like How to Win Friends, this exploration of incompetence remains relevant in the twenty-first century.

CBS News also recommends a work by a pair of British authors. Explore the world of office politics in 21 Dirty Tricks at Work. Authors Mike Phipps and Colin Gautrey, co-founders of Politics at Work, Ltd., combined research and decades of experience in this survival guide.

To experience the world from the boss’ angle, you might pick up Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business by Paul Downs. This book was selected as a Forbes Best Business Book of the Year. Downs describes his experiences building a successful small business from the ground up.

Another option in this category is #Girlboss by Sophia Amorusa. This book spent eighteen weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and is described as “part memoir, part business book with an edge.” #Girlboss recounts Amoruso’s journey from dumpster diving to founding a fashion empire.

This list contains just a few of the many options you have for reading about bosses and the workplace. You can search for additional books on this subject on Google, Amazon, or Goodreads, but these books are also available at your public library.

Jackie Zataweski is the director of the Nottoway County Library in Crewe, Virginia.

Anonymous and Unverified Bosses Stories from our readers

“When I was 17, I worked for a local health club. My boss, the owner liked to “inspect” his employees. He would randomly grab your bottom, try to “pinch an inch” on your waistline, or squeeze the under-side of your arm to be sure you were in shape. Funny, he only felt the need to check his female employees. It was creepy.”

“I briefly worked for a local Realtor on his clean-up crew. We visited his properties and picked up trash, mowed, and maintained the landscaping. He owned several low-income housing projects. His superintendent arrived in a truck with an open trailer on the back and his tool belt to collect the rent. He threatened to take the front door off if they did not pay. I had to find a new job.”

“I worked for a company in Chicago and my male boss was a hugger. After every meeting we all had to hug. Back then, it wasn’t such a big deal, but my husband took exception to the practice and got jealous.”

“I once worked for a small company where everything was based on seniority. Everyone hired before me was my boss. It was like being an intern only I was the head of a department.”

We will finish this issue with a humorous cartoon - join us next months as we take a look at pets and all things animal.

A Cartoon from Francis Cleetus

Francis Cleetus is an Indian-American  copywriter ,  art director ,  creative director ,  mural  painter and tech  cartoonist . He picked up all these skills while working on  multinational  brands at ad agencies in  India ,  Hong Kong  and the  US . His book,  Wish Your Mouth Had a Backspace Key,  is available on  and at . 

Francis Cleetus is an Indian-American copywriterart directorcreative directormural painter and tech cartoonist. He picked up all these skills while working on multinational brands at ad agencies in IndiaHong Kong and the US. His book, Wish Your Mouth Had a Backspace Key, is available on and at

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