Welcome to Tech Support: Your FAQ

Welcome to the unofficial Support Section of the not-so award-winning, acclaimed, widely-read blog “The Letter T.”  We value your business, and to better serve you, we’ve compiled a list of the questions our clients most commonly ask our CEO. If you don’t see the answer you’re looking for, try someone else’s blog.

Why on god’s green earth did you write an FAQ for yourself?
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that this post, like so many of my others, is the brainchild of Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop.

What services do you provide?
Nothing of import, including:

  • Copywriting/copyediting
  • Social media updating
  • Search engine optimization
  • General corporate communications
  • Medical consults
  • Shoe consults
  • Cosmetic consults
  • Comedic relief
  • Hillbilly cooking
  • Stuffed animal foster parenting
  • Intermittent emotional comfort
  • Instant recall of trivial and random information
  • Defense of the Great State of New Jersey
  • Candy trafficking and dealing, sometimes within 200 feet of a school
  • Holiday party hosting

Where are your headquarters?
New York City, with regional offices in Scotch Plains, NJ and Dallas, TX.

Do you take credit cards?
With pleasure!

Do you have time to write and send an urgent email blast for me within the next hour?
No, but I will.

What happened to your chin?
The small scar on the lower right corner of my face is from my cameo appearance on Nip/Tuck ’86. That year, I had a dime-sized birth mark removed. Plastic surgery has come a long way, and if I’d had it removed today, I’d probably be scar-free.  But, as Karl Lagerfeld said, “There is no beauty without strangeness.”

What were you doing in Michigan and Philadelphia?
Very little.

How did you meet your husband?
My husband and I went to high school together. I knew him, because he was the class president and homecoming king, as well as an athlete
and a twin, which was still rare back then. He claims to have known me, but that is simply not possible. Obviously, we spoke nary a word between June 1990 and the summer of 2008, when we reconnected on Facebook. Yes, Facebook actually can do good.

How’d you sleep last night?
Not great.

Why do you look like a chipmunk when you eat?
I suffer from what my inner circle knows as “the swallowing thing.” Depending on who you ask, it may be a social phobia, and/or a severe form of globus
hystericus
, and/or a conversion disorder, and/or the result of control issues that cause me to involuntarily clench my jaw so hard it will barely move. In any case, it is often difficult for me to swallow with grace and aplomb. It is embarrassing and unpleasant, but somehow, I am always able to get ice cream down with no problem.

On that note, you eat an absurd amount of cheese and junk food, yet are not yet obese. How is that possible?
With irritable bowel syndrome, everything is possible.  Any day now, I will wake up and suddenly weigh 400 pounds.

Where do you get your fashion ideas?
I stare creepily at well-dressed women on the subway; I copy my fashion-forward friends; and I cut out pictures of Rachel Bilson, Reese Witherspoon, Kourtney Kardashian, and Jessica Alba from US magazine.

Why are you so afraid of barfing?
Studies show it has to do with the trauma of a reversal of fortune in front of my entire second-grade class in 1980. Plus, barfing is horrible.

I find you and your blog to be more than a smidge irritating. What can I do about this?
Please try rebooting.

Have you ever thought about writing a book?
Yes, but I am lazy and uninspired, as evidenced by the irregularity of my blog posts.

I think you should try. Are you afraid of failing?
What part of “lazy and uninspired” do you not understand? I am not afraid of failing. I fail at least once a day and I am used to it. What I am afraid of is losing hope.  As long as I talk about writing a book but never actually do it, there’s still the possibility that it might one day happen.

Isn’t there ANYTHING that motivates you?
There are a few things, including:

  • Fresh Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • Knowing John Taylor and Simon Le Bon are out there, somewhere
  • The mean girls in high school
  • Thoughts of appearing on the late night talk show circuit – and what I will wear
  • The idea of making my husband/family proud

What nail polish color is that?
Most likely, it’s Lincoln Park After Dark; Midnight in Moscow; Romeo & Joliet; or Chinchilly. If you enjoy diarrhea-colored nails (which I don’t), I recommend  Uh-Oh Roll Down the Window.

I have tried all the contact numbers I have for you and still can’t reach you. What the deuce?
“Deuce” is the keyword here. I am almost never without access to a landline or mobile device. If you are unable to reach me, it means one of two things. Either my shitty iPhone battery has died a moment after it claimed to be 100% charged, and/or I am doing the kind of business that shan’t be mentioned here.

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Welcome to Tech Support: Your FAQ

It’s the Bed, Stupid

There are few things more annoying than suffering from perma-insomnia when the person who shares your bed can fall asleep a mere nanosecond after pillow contact.  I’m not pointing the finger (Keith), I’m not accusing anyone (Keith), I’m not naming names (Keith). I’m just sayin’ …

I don’t remember a stretch of time when it was easy for me to fall asleep.  Jan will happily tell you what a “poor” sleeper I was as a baby.  I couldn’t sleep when I was a Brownie.  I couldn’t sleep when I had mono. I couldn’t sleep under the influence of Ambien or Xanax.  The one disease I don’t worry about? African Sleeping Sickness.

What’s that? The tsetse fly, you say? Oh. I actually have worried about that. Sorry.

Every now and then, I’ll go through a rare and brief “sleep easy” week or two, but sooner or later, the insomnia returns with a vengeance. I’ve always just blamed it on the unfortunate combination of anxiety, sensory overload, genetics, and a touch of fatal familial insomnia.  But lately, another, more sinister possibility has occurred to me.

What if it is not anxiety, sensory overload, genetics or FFI at all but rather …wait for it … the very piece of furniture meant to provide hours of quality respite and restorative slumber ? What if it’s really … [insert menacing thunder and organ music] THE BED ITSELF?

When I met Keith, he had just bought a Tempur-Pedic.  Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about beds or mattresses, so I’m about as qualified to assess them as Peter Griffin is to judge fine wines.  In my entire life, I have personally selected my own just once – right before I moved to New York, at a big A&S sale in Paramus. And at the time, the options were much simpler: hard, medium or soft. There were  no –pedics and no –foams. If it was a fancy Nancy bed you desired, you ordered the Craftmatic by toll-free phone call after seeing its commercial on TV in the wee hours of the night. So in 2008, what I did know was that I liked my beds not too soft and not too hard; that the Heavenly Westin bed was indeed heavenly; that a freakish number of mattress brand names started with the letter “S”;  and that the Tempur-Pedic was the alleged be-all/end-all of sleep-related wares. It changed people’s lives. It brought the gift of good rest.

Except to me. I got a rock.  

It's not you, it's me. Or maybe it's you.

I just didn’t get it. The Tempur-Pedic felt really firm and really high and refused to mold to my body. But since I’ve been a “poor sleeper” all my life, it never really occurred to me that the bed had anything to do with my inability to slumber. And pretty soon, I stopped thinking about it. I had too many other things to obsess over. 

But for the past few months, my insomnia has been worse than usual.  You could argue that this has to do with general malaise and getting married and stress at work and fear of the future.  But I’ve become hyper-aware of the bed as I lie awake. And let me tell you: that freakin’ bed isn’t blameless in this scenario.

But what’s the answer? Keith thinks the Tempur-Pedic is the greatest invention since the Barca Lounger.  He spent a lot of money on it, not that long ago. It’s not the kind of thing you just replace every few months. Plus, he’s so flexible about home furnishings; I could never ask him to sacrifice the one thing in the apartment he really does care about.  And really, who knows what, if any, difference the mattress is making?

I’m at a loss. It’s unlikely that I’ll “accidentally” misplace a queen mattress.  It’s also not the kind of thing I can really I throw out “by mistake.”  (Not that I ever did such things of course…) So I started researching stop-gap measures.  There’s the classic egg crate, of course, as well as something called a “convoluted” mattress pad (available on myfoam.com); a “baffle box;”  a Cuddleewe; and a “SuperSnooze,” among others. For some reason, the names of these products make me chuckle heartily but just don’t scream out “EIGHT UNINTERRUPTED HOURS OF BLISSFUL Z’s.”

So I ask you, loyal and random readers, what in THE hell am I supposed to do?

It’s the Bed, Stupid

Sleepless at the Service Line

For the past two weeks, a particularly virulent strain of insomnia has plagued me. If you must know, I didn’t fall asleep until 5 a.m. last night. I’ve battled insomnia on and off throughout my life, and I’ve found that long-term exhaustion intensifies all my anxieties, fears and concerns. For a few nights, I lay awake obsessing over the fact that I could very well have fatal familial insomnia, one of the most fascinating genetic diseases I’ve ever read about. It didn’t matter that there was virtually no way in hell that anyone in my family of Eastern European peasant, mule-owning Jews had ever even come in contact with — much less done the nasty with — a member of the one family (Italian royalty, I should add) whose blood carries this horrid disease.

For a few more nights, I obsessed about instant messages I’d sent at the office. What if my boss had been paying my so-called work friends to entrap me? What if their snide comments were only meant to lure me into making even snider comments, which were then printed out and handed in to upper management? On other nights, the 70s-infused theme song of Swingtown refused to stop coming into my head while I tried to slumber; thoughts of those mysterious little holes in my t-shirts drove me crazy; and/or the sound of the air conditioner kept me up.

Then, inevitably, came the nights when I reviewed every mistake I’d made in my life, starting with the selection of red Buster Brown lace-ups instead of the brown leather Mary Jane-type shoes in 1976. My nocturnal regretting also included trading a “Virginia is for Lovers” reflector sticker for four Butter Rum Life-Savers in 1981; never getting to say goodbye to Ollie; spending money to see “Opportunity Knocks”; leather Keds; eating a Pizza Hut individual pan pizza before getting on that one flight from Boston to Newark; choosing the wrong college; choosing the wrong graduate program; choosing the wrong first job; sliding downhill from there; and just generally failing to do anything right, ever.

All this brought back a particularly regrettable incident in December of 1996. I had decided that I loved Pete Sampras a few months earlier after being completely moved by his public barfage at the U.S. Open that year. At the time, I was working as the editor of a dinky, now-defunct magazine for military wives, and as such was able to secure press credentials for use at a benefit tennis tournament at Madison Square Garden. My future husband P. Sampras, along with Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and John McEnroe, was playing to raise money for the Tim and Tom Gullikson Foundation and brain cancer patients; the press credentials meant I could partake of the press conference beforehand.  I arrived early and managed to secure a front-row seat.  It was my first (and only) celebrity-related press conference, and in addition to being the only female in attendance, I appeared to be the only “reporter” not employed at a major newspaper or sports magazine. P. Sampras and co. were on a first-name basis with all the inquiring journalists.  While they swapped private jokes and referenced famous tennis matches going back to the 70s, I tried to figure out why THE HELL I had thought it was a good idea to wear ill-fitting and too-light Gap jeans, a hideously colored Norwegian print sweater and the ugliest square-toe boots ever manufactured. 

Even though I was hardly the world’s leading tennis expert, it was hard not to be awed by the close-up sight of P, A, J and J. I spent a few seconds just staring at each of them. When I landed on P, I thought for a nanosecond that he might be looking at me. This struck me as ridiculously unlikely, but still …

I conducted a test — I looked down at my sham of a reporter’s notebook for a minute, then back up.

FRICK ON A TOP-SEEDED STICK! PETE SAMPRAS IS CHECKING ME OUT IN MY ILL-FITTING GAP JEANS!

If cell phones had existed back then, I would have sent a big, fat “OMFG” to everyone I knew.

I forced myself to raise an arm and come up with an entree into the King of Swing’s life.  When I did, P. Sampras called on me and SMILED. Did I mention that Pete Sampras smiled at me?

Miraculously able to speak, I asked them if they’d consider making this benefit an annual event if it proved successful. (They would, but never did.)

A few minutes later, the press conference wrapped up, and I found myself a smidge surprised that P. Sampras had not stood up and said, “Now I have a question for YOU. Will you marry me?”

Alas, it was probably for the best, I thought, as sooner or later, he would have seen me attempt to play tennis and any relationship we had would quickly have come to its demise. Sigh. (One more thing to regret: my refusal to continue tennis lessons in 1986.)

I filed out of the room with the real journalists and bent down in the hallway to re-organize my bag.

When I stood up, P. Sampras was standing right in front of me.

OMFG. OMFG. OMFG.

He smiled and said, “Hi. Pete Sampras. Nice to meet you.”

OMFG. OMFG. OMFG.

Pete Sampras upon learning I am too retarded to say hi to him
December 1996, New York: P. Sampras cries upon learning I am too retarded to say hi to him

Now, there were any number of logical responses I could have given. For one thing, I could have, oh, I don’t know, SAID HI BACK TO HIM. I could have introduced myself. I could have given him my card. I could have told him how much I liked watching him play and/or what a great idea this benefit was. But did I say any of those things? DID I SAY ANYTHING AT ALL?! No. In fact, I’m not even sure I smiled. I can only remember emitting some kind of unintelligble, Chris Farley-esque sound and being completely paralyzed. While I can imagine how much of an absolute moron I must have looked like to him, I prefer not to.  

And so, P. Sampras and I went our separate ways, he to the court and me to the stands. I would meet John McEnroe two more times, at his gallery in Soho, and I would pass Jim Courier several times on the streets of Manhattan. But P. Sampras and I would not cross paths again. Twelve years later, the leggy blonde actress Brigitte Wilson sleeps with my husband in a Los Angeles mansion. OMFG. I HAVE to get some Ambien.

Sleepless at the Service Line