Chatroom to Bedroom: Rochester, NY – First Chapter

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Chatroom to Bedroom Rochester NY Sukhoy KindleTo celebrate the  Chatroom to Bedroom: Rochester, NY Kindle debut and to say thank you to everyone who has believed in this book and project, I am publishing the entire first chapter here.

Enjoy and, if inspired, download the Kindle (or order the paperback edition) from Amazon.

You can also download the e-book from iTunes or from B&

Welcome to post-9/11 Upstate New York, MBA style.

And, as always, comments welcome.

Cheers!Chatroom to Bedroom Rochester NY Sukhoy itunes

– Alex


Editor: Jamie Moore

This is a work of fiction. Except for the MBA lessons.

© Alexsandra Sukhoy November, 2006. © Creative Cadence LLC 2012. All rights reserved.







Chatroom to Bedroom Rochester NY Sukhoy NookChapter 1 – The Receiving of Loss

Late Summer, 2002

I sit alone in my apartment near campus. Sure, I could call on all sorts of friends and business school colleagues to meet at Starbucks or have real Buffalo wings at the Distillery, but I don’t call anyone. Misery loves basking in gray skies and the hollow sound a room makes after a lover moves out.

My 1970s-era Rustic Village apartment isn’t completely empty. It’s furnished with a hand-me-down beige sleeper sofa, matching love seat and a cheap old Service Merchandise kitchen table. Mismatched green and brown mission furniture occupies one bedroom.

There’s a desk but not much else is in the office. The filing cabinet and wooden Italian easel are gone. So are the canvases of color – a bluesman with no face, an Indian woman’s hair. The artist moved out and moved on.  In the closet he kept all kinds of images, photographs, collectibles and other mementos from college and all his travels. Now the closet is bare. Seems like emptiness is the theme that began this summer.

But emptiness and loss have been the common thread of my life since I arrived in this town, full of ambition, hope, attitude, and truly believing in my heart and soul that I could change the world. I moved to New York to begin my MBA program at the renowned University of Rochester, Simon School of Business. My boyfriend, Robert, moved here with me, giving up his job, friends and community connection.

We arrived with our U-Haul truck on August 28, 2001. Two weeks later, while sitting in a statistics prep course, one of my classmates, a musician and creative soul who came to business school with a Mac laptop and not a PC, got up in the middle of the class and yelled, “Holy shit, a plane just flew into the World Trade Center!” Many of the students began to panic and act confused. Some had family in Manhattan, and some just moved the U.S. from China, Argentina and Italy. One classmate had an eight-month pregnant wife living in the city.

MBA Lesson #1: Markets never rest.

While the rest of the campus shut down and was closed the following day as well, the Simon School of Business stayed open, with expectations not only of attendance, but completed homework and active participation.

The world changed that day. And it set the precedent for everything that followed.

I spent the first two weeks of business school pissed off that women were being told to wear skirts to job interviews at the “Dress for Success” seminars sponsored by Casual Corner. A high-powered vacuum of impossible expectations quickly sucked me in. I was a successful businesswoman before I arrived here, so what gives?

My first quarter, my course level included Finance, Statistics, Economics and Accounting. Back in undergrad I had to change from being Commerce major to a Liberal Arts major because I could not pass accounting and economics. And here I am, with some of the top minds of the world, competing on a curve against CPAs, traders, investors, brokers, statisticians and economists.

Looking back now, it was a very Private Benjamin experience. Where were the fancy networking parties, the big marketing presentations and the supportive administration?

When the grades for the first quarter midterms became available, my friend Julie and I sat in her frozen car, opened our envelopes at the same time and, looking at my points, written in red ink, I asked her, “Was this out of 50 or out of 100?”

After midterms I also had my statistics professor, an arrogant, Belgian man who thought his humor superseded his European humble dominance. After rejecting to help me when I came to him weeks earlier, (“Don’t worry, Rebecca, just come to the review sessions and you will be fine.”) pulled me into his office and said, “Let’s face it. You did awful. There’s no hope here.”  I had to face my parents’ first visit on campus minutes after that discussion.

The homework never stopped. The team meetings never ended. And the stress escalated daily.  My few strands of gray hair began to evolve into a waterfall of prematurely aged locks, forcing the permanent need for permanent color forever after. And whatever hair did not turn gray began to fall out, in huge chunks — in the shower, on the hairbrush and in the bathroom sink.

And let’s not forget the weight gain. The body never forgets to remind you that, while aging is the better alternative, the speed at which one ages — a holy trinity of genetics, environment and fiscal budget — can accelerate at any given moment without polite notice. Aging is rude. A woman aging is simply boring.

My first-year business school team was like a mini United Nations. There were four men and I: one American, one Chinese, one Argentinean and one Frenchman. I use the term “man” loosely with the last one on this list. The arrogant Belgian statistics professor was like a pauper of snobbery compared with this “football”-playing, pompous prick who declared himself boss. Since my analytical skills did not match those from the rest of the group, he thought he could play some sort of psychological S&M with me.  Too bad the Germans were not about to attack France after 9/11. Maybe the French prick would have been a little nicer.

By the time first quarter ended, I was notified that I was on probation and had to immediately raise my GPA or lose my MBA status and the partial tuition scholarship that was part of my highly flattering and ego-inflating acceptance letter.

By the time second quarter began in January I had to retake Finance and Accounting, my boyfriend and I were experiencing serious emotional hardship and I began to doubt all my choices: personal, professional and geographical. I began to see a therapist on campus and was scheduled to take a test to see if I had Attention Deficit Disorder. But a smart man who knew me for years said, “You could take this test and use the A.D.D. as a crutch, or you could just work harder.” I decided to do the latter and cancelled my test appointment.

Second quarter, when I had only two classes with my group, some of the toxic energy began to dissipate. My new Marketing and Operations classes came easier and my GPA improved.

One day, literally hours before a marketing assignment was due, I approached my mailbox on campus and in it was a note from my team: “We are having an emergency meeting.” My heart sank. I knew that morning something within my team was going to happen. So I wore my red boots. And in those boots I marched into the room where my team was agonizing over a homework assignment that was worth half of our total quarter grade. I was calm as Lancer before a bike ride.

“What is going on here? I thought we were done,” I asked.

“Well, we still need to fix some things,” said the French prick.

“What is there to fix? We were done with this assignment. We have to focus our energy on the bigger projects that are worth more points … ”

As I continued to talk, French prick continued with his berating comments and criticism. Actually I like to call him French Fuck behind his back. And, considering the synagogue burnings and increased Muslim influence and anti-Semitism in France, I blamed all of it on him. He may not have started the fascist attitude of the French toward the Jews, but by being such an asshole to me day-after-day-after-day-after-day he was not helping the situation, either. Besides, I am an American and he is on my turf, and frankly, I’m tired of his mouth. And all the French-accented words that came out of it.

“So take your Peugeot and your escargot and Patricia Kass and ‘culture’ and shove it up your ass, you French Fuck,” is what I was thinking at that moment. The irony was that it was him who lost his cool as he unraveled the following words to me regarding a marketing assignment, knowing full well that, unlike the rest of the members of this so-called team, I had over a decade of marketing experience:

“Your analysis is pure bullshit!” he yelled, red in the face, anger in his eyes and fists slamming the table.

I was still standing and held my ground. Without a shiver I calmly said, “You are out of line and you have no right to talk to me this way.” The rest of the team did not know what to do.  They wished I was not on the team. But none of them had any real balls to confront the one guy in the group who drove them just as nuts as he drove me. But men being men, egos and all, got back to the “problem on the table” and carried on business as usual.

Later that day French Fuck, whose locker was right next to mine, approached and saw me putting some books away. “I am sorry for what I said, I was just … ” I just nodded and said “OK.” And walked away.

By the time third quarter began, the choices lying in front me began to get bigger. I had two more classes with this so-called team, and my boyfriend and I were rowing the boat in opposite directions. I wanted New York City and he was building a life for himself here in Rochacha.

I knew, that March, if I had any more interaction with my team, my better choice would be to leave the school, because the dynamic was so destructive to me, I felt trapped. But I am a freedom fighter. And I am creative. So I developed options when no options seemed available. I also had the advice of my good friend, Andrea: “Since you are not allowed to switch teams, ask the professor if you can hand in assignments on your own.” Hmm.

“Statistically, you will get the lowest grades and if you make this choice, it is irreversible,” said my Cost Accounting professor.

“Fine. I am willing to do commit to that.”

MBA: Lesson #2: Everything in business can be negotiated.

Everything and everyone.

 The following week I handed in my assignment with only my name on it. Watching French Fuck’s reaction when he saw it lying in a pile on the professor’s desk was priceless. He looked at my name on its own on that stapled set of computer-printed papers, then turned and looked at me almost like he was disoriented.  I later started attending the Cost Accounting class with another group of students, avoiding any kind of contact with members of my former team. I formed a new group for all my elective classes and we became the Dream Team.

And, just as life and the potential GPA were looking up in late spring, the shadow of loss from just eight months ago grew into a self-combustible engine, shooting off flames and destroying everything in sight.

In March Robert and I flew to New York. It was his first trip to Manhattan. In three short days we saw my childhood friends on the Lower East Side, walked to Battery Park, took a cab up to Times Square, then a bus to Harlem and, within those short days, also walked Wall Street and ventured to Brooklyn before flying out of Queens. It was a trip full of life and irony. Hours after Robert and I visited Ground Zero and seeing the vast and unimaginable destruction in front of us, I became pregnant.

While March seemed like a month of hope for us, in April life began to darken again as our views on things, and the future started to change. Robert wanted a house. I wanted New York. Robert bought a house, and I felt betrayed. We were growing apart daily just as our baby was growing inside me hourly.

In late April while working in the office I began to feel sick. My stomach was in a knot. I’ve had stomach problems my whole life, so I didn’t think much of it. Nothing that a can of Sprite can’t fix. The pains got worse and I was alone. I called Robert at work and he was home in 10 minutes. I slowly walked to the bathroom just around the corner, holding on to the furniture and walls to support myself with my right hand and holding onto my stomach with the left one. I sat on the toilet experiencing the worst kind of pain I have ever felt. It was as if a porcupine was trying to make its way through my ovaries. Robert ran in and saw me there in tears, in blood, in hell.

“I lost it. I lost our baby.”

The look on his face went from terror to total grief to total helplessness. He approached me carefully, not really knowing what to say or do, and knelt down with his leather jacket on, still cold from the wind outside. As he held my hands we both looked at my finger and realized that the engagement ring was gone, too.

“It must have slipped,” I whispered, still in tears. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Robert.”

“That’s OK. There are other rings. And we can have another baby.”

The following month my childhood friend’s mother died of cancer, a former coworker lost her baby in the third trimester, Robert and I split up, and there was still no news of my GPA, MBA status or scholarship eligibility.

So here I sit in my bare apartment. Not bare of furniture, but bare of a man I loved and still love, but with whom a future just didn’t seem possible. These four rooms are bare of Robert’s art, his music collection, his dark brown kitchen table, his tall filing cabinet and his mementos and photographs and collectibles. But, mostly, the apartment is bare of his spirit, his strength, his deep laugh and his love.

Leaving a man who is an asshole to you is easy. Ending a relationship with a man who wanted to share the universe with you but whose compass pointed to different direction is the hardest kind of leaving.

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