New novel (First draft completed) 8.29.2016

As mentioned, I am working on a new novel, titled “Unravel.”

A synopsis: 

 

Subhash and Naima are middle-class, suburban, white-collar professionals living in central New Jersey, who will do anything to maintain the life they’ve built. They are also young parents to their 6 year old daughter, Tulsi. Both want the best for her, but as they face off against obstacles, they begin to realize that choices must be made and consequences accepted.

 

The final chapters are the following:

Chapter 13 Click here to read.

Chapter 14 Click here to read.

Chapter 15 Click here to read.

Chapter 16 Click here to read.

Chapter 17 Click here to read.

I didn’t include excerpts this time because I think you as the reader will gain more by not knowing what’s to be expected.

Also, as I make clear in each chapter, these are very rough drafts. Unlike other chapters, Chapter 13-17 were left unedited due to life getting in the way and not finding the time or energy just yet.

Either way, the first draft of my novel is completed and I thank everyone for the encouragement and support!

PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

CHAPTER 1

Excerpt:

Naima held on. But once they stepped through, Tulsi squirmed free and ran.

Naima chased, as Subhash followed.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 2

Excerpt:

As the only black reporter, Naima usually relied on what she described to Subhash when they started dating, as her “Spidey sense.” Back then, it was cute, and even something to be proud of, an ability to be conscious of what was around her at almost all times, a skill perfect for her job. But after spending nearly seven years in the same newsroom, and trying her best to get to know everyone who’d come through, even the interns, she realized that her valued “Spidey sense” was tingling more and more often. Everyone was a possible enemy she concluded after a co-worker (who left to be an editor for The New York Times after only a year at the Tribune) complained about Naima’s “demeanor” to the others last summer, claiming that Naima was too “abrasive.” Naima learned her lesson to not let her guard down just yet. It was tiring of course. And on some mornings, she felt like staying in bed and closing her eyes, imagining she was someplace else, somewhere she could laugh as loud as she wanted, or even cry in public. At times like that, she’d tell herself that one day, it would all be worth it. One day, all this would be returned in full.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 3

Excerpt:

“I don’t know what to do,” Rhona said, gasping for breath. “They just came saying they needed to talk to me, and I didn’t say anything. I didn’t know who they were. I told you I wanted to be anonymous. I don’t want to be a part of this anymore.”

“Just stay calm, I’m on my way,” Naima said.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 4

Excerpt:

People fled, tripping and falling across the lawn.

For a moment, Subhash had the urge to jump into the crowd. He took a step forward. Tulsi wrapped her arms around his leg like it was a tree.

Subhash scooped her up into his arms and hustled to the opposite end, disappearing behind the art museum. He moved as fast as he could without losing his grip on Tulsi, as her arms were around his neck.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 5

Excerpt:

Blood trickled over his eyes.

He let the drops land on his shoes and carpet.

“Daddy, are you sick? Did you fall down?”

Soon, Naima arrived and dabbed the wounds, and they went upstairs. He laid in bed as she took off his shirt and wrapped his hands and feet with bandages.

Tulsi crept up the steps as well.

“What’s wrong with Daddy?”

“Nothing, honey. Daddy is just tired.”

“He looks hurt.”

“Just go back and watch your show.”

Naima applied pressure to Subhash’s side and Subhash grimaced.

Click here to read more.

CHAPTER 6

Excerpt:

 

After an assignment interviewing owners of a Italian/Thai fusion restaurant, which was opened in the neighborhood closest to the Holland Tunnel where most of the newer residents lived, the ones who wore sunglasses on cloudy days as well as khakis and sandals, Naima stopped at a C-Town in Journal Square. She was on her way to the office, but feeling thirsty, hungry and her contacts were irritating her eyes. The C-Town was next to a row of apartment buildings and convenience stores, and the aisles were filled with Caribbean and Indian spices. Naima grabbed a Snapple from the freezer and was ready to pop it open on the spot. However, she stepped aside, allowing a family and their shopping cart to get through, and caught a glimpse of a face in the corner of her eye. She quickly hid behind a column of Reese’s Puffs cereal and Ramen noodles.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 7

Excerpt:

Naima rushed down the stairs, her coat flying like a cape. She jumped off the last steps and grabbed the door knob.

“What are you doing?” Subhash said.

“I’m late,” she replied, gasping for breath.

Subhash was at the top landing.

“It’s still out there,” he said.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 8

Excerpt:

 

Suddenly, thunder rumbled, and a bright flash blinded. He collapsed. Struggling to breathe, he dug his nails into the asphalt, unable to break through. The sky was gray, clouds gliding like fumes.

Soon, the sound of tires screaming echoed. And the smell of freshly cut grass disappeared.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 9

Excerpt:

Naima snapped pictures and turned on the car. Suddenly, there was screaming and Tulsi bolted awake.

“What’s going on? Where’s Rhona?”

“Keep your head down.”

Naima picked up speed, finding the nearest entrance to the turnpike. Tulsi turned around, and Naima boomed, “Keep your head down!”

Click here to read more.

CHAPTER 10

Excerpt:

“He smelled like garlic,” Grace said as she grabbed a bag of weed from a drawer and stuffed it into her bra.

After she left, Subhash tickled Naima, until they both were under the sheets, while music and voices from the other rooms reverberated.

Click here to read more.

CHAPTER 11

Excerpt:

Subhash rushed into the hallway, and Naima found him splashing water on his face in the kitchen sink.

“I can’t believe that fucker!”

“Lower your voice…”

“You all remember what that monster did to us right? How he made high-school a living hell!”

Naima took a step forward and Subhash’s breathing slowly returned to normal.

“Let’s finish the meeting.”

“I can’t.”

“Please. This is not helping.”

Subhash turned around and opened the back door that led into the parking lot. Naima paused before returning to the conference room to write notes.

Click here to read more.

CHAPTER 12

Excerpt:

Subhash glowered as he went to the wall. Naima was a few feet away and wasn’t allowed any closer.

“Show me I.D.” the officer said and Subhash handed it to him.

Subhash waited.

The officer asked where Subhash was going.

Click here to read more.

New novel (updated) 7.30.2016

As mentioned, I am working on a new novel, titled “Unravel.”

A synopsis: 

 

Subhash and Naima are middle-class, suburban, white-collar professionals living in central New Jersey, who will do anything to maintain the life they’ve built. They are also young parents to their 6 year old daughter, Tulsi. Both want the best for her, but as they face off against obstacles, they begin to realize that choices must be made and consequences accepted.

 

Chapters 10, 11, and 12 are the latest that I’ve added and are all from Section II. The first nine chapters are Section I. Section III, which I’ll be working on soon, is the final part.

CHAPTER 10

Excerpt:

“He smelled like garlic,” Grace said as she grabbed a bag of weed from a drawer and stuffed it into her bra.

After she left, Subhash tickled Naima, until they both were under the sheets, while music and voices from the other rooms reverberated.

Click here to read more.

CHAPTER 11

Excerpt:

Subhash rushed into the hallway, and Naima found him splashing water on his face in the kitchen sink.

“I can’t believe that fucker!”

“Lower your voice…”

“You all remember what that monster did to us right? How he made high-school a living hell!”

Naima took a step forward and Subhash’s breathing slowly returned to normal.

“Let’s finish the meeting.”

“I can’t.”

“Please. This is not helping.”

Subhash turned around and opened the back door that led into the parking lot. Naima paused before returning to the conference room to write notes.

Click here to read more.

CHAPTER 12

Excerpt:

Subhash glowered as he went to the wall. Naima was a few feet away and wasn’t allowed any closer.

“Show me I.D.” the officer said and Subhash handed it to him.

Subhash waited.

The officer asked where Subhash was going.

Click here to read more.

 

PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

 

CHAPTER 1

Excerpt:

Naima held on. But once they stepped through, Tulsi squirmed free and ran.

Naima chased, as Subhash followed.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 2

Excerpt:

As the only black reporter, Naima usually relied on what she described to Subhash when they started dating, as her “Spidey sense.” Back then, it was cute, and even something to be proud of, an ability to be conscious of what was around her at almost all times, a skill perfect for her job. But after spending nearly seven years in the same newsroom, and trying her best to get to know everyone who’d come through, even the interns, she realized that her valued “Spidey sense” was tingling more and more often. Everyone was a possible enemy she concluded after a co-worker (who left to be an editor for The New York Times after only a year at the Tribune) complained about Naima’s “demeanor” to the others last summer, claiming that Naima was too “abrasive.” Naima learned her lesson to not let her guard down just yet. It was tiring of course. And on some mornings, she felt like staying in bed and closing her eyes, imagining she was someplace else, somewhere she could laugh as loud as she wanted, or even cry in public. At times like that, she’d tell herself that one day, it would all be worth it. One day, all this would be returned in full.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 3

Excerpt:

“I don’t know what to do,” Rhona said, gasping for breath. “They just came saying they needed to talk to me, and I didn’t say anything. I didn’t know who they were. I told you I wanted to be anonymous. I don’t want to be a part of this anymore.”

“Just stay calm, I’m on my way,” Naima said.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 4

Excerpt:

People fled, tripping and falling across the lawn.

For a moment, Subhash had the urge to jump into the crowd. He took a step forward. Tulsi wrapped her arms around his leg like it was a tree.

Subhash scooped her up into his arms and hustled to the opposite end, disappearing behind the art museum. He moved as fast as he could without losing his grip on Tulsi, as her arms were around his neck.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 5

Excerpt:

Blood trickled over his eyes.

He let the drops land on his shoes and carpet.

“Daddy, are you sick? Did you fall down?”

Soon, Naima arrived and dabbed the wounds, and they went upstairs. He laid in bed as she took off his shirt and wrapped his hands and feet with bandages.

Tulsi crept up the steps as well.

“What’s wrong with Daddy?”

“Nothing, honey. Daddy is just tired.”

“He looks hurt.”

“Just go back and watch your show.”

Naima applied pressure to Subhash’s side and Subhash grimaced.

Click here to read more.

CHAPTER 6

Excerpt:

 

After an assignment interviewing owners of a Italian/Thai fusion restaurant, which was opened in the neighborhood closest to the Holland Tunnel where most of the newer residents lived, the ones who wore sunglasses on cloudy days as well as khakis and sandals, Naima stopped at a C-Town in Journal Square. She was on her way to the office, but feeling thirsty, hungry and her contacts were irritating her eyes. The C-Town was next to a row of apartment buildings and convenience stores, and the aisles were filled with Caribbean and Indian spices. Naima grabbed a Snapple from the freezer and was ready to pop it open on the spot. However, she stepped aside, allowing a family and their shopping cart to get through, and caught a glimpse of a face in the corner of her eye. She quickly hid behind a column of Reese’s Puffs cereal and Ramen noodles.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 7

Excerpt:

Naima rushed down the stairs, her coat flying like a cape. She jumped off the last steps and grabbed the door knob.

“What are you doing?” Subhash said.

“I’m late,” she replied, gasping for breath.

Subhash was at the top landing.

“It’s still out there,” he said.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 8

Excerpt:

 

Suddenly, thunder rumbled, and a bright flash blinded. He collapsed. Struggling to breathe, he dug his nails into the asphalt, unable to break through. The sky was gray, clouds gliding like fumes.

Soon, the sound of tires screaming echoed. And the smell of freshly cut grass disappeared.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 9

Excerpt:

Naima snapped pictures and turned on the car. Suddenly, there was screaming and Tulsi bolted awake.

“What’s going on? Where’s Rhona?”

“Keep your head down.”

Naima picked up speed, finding the nearest entrance to the turnpike. Tulsi turned around, and Naima boomed, “Keep your head down!”

Click here to read more.

New novel (updated)6.26.2016

As mentioned, I am working on a new novel, titled “Unravel.”

A synopsis: 

Subhash and Naima are middle-class, suburban, white-collar professionals living in central New Jersey, who will do anything to maintain the life they’ve built. They are also young parents to their 6 year old daughter, Tulsi. Both want the best for her, but as they face off against obstacles, they begin to realize that choices must be made and consequences accepted.

Chapter 8 is the latest one that I wrote and added. The rest are below, if you are interested and want to check up.

 

CHAPTER 8

Excerpt:

 

Suddenly, thunder rumbled, and a bright flash blinded. He collapsed. Struggling to breathe, he dug his nails into the asphalt, unable to break through. The sky was gray, clouds gliding like fumes.

Soon, the sound of tires screaming echoed. And the smell of freshly cut grass disappeared.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 1

Excerpt:

Naima held on. But once they stepped through, Tulsi squirmed free and ran.

Naima chased, as Subhash followed.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 2

Excerpt:

As the only black reporter, Naima usually relied on what she described to Subhash when they started dating, as her “Spidey sense.” Back then, it was cute, and even something to be proud of, an ability to be conscious of what was around her at almost all times, a skill perfect for her job. But after spending nearly seven years in the same newsroom, and trying her best to get to know everyone who’d come through, even the interns, she realized that her valued “Spidey sense” was tingling more and more often. Everyone was a possible enemy she concluded after a co-worker (who left to be an editor for The New York Times after only a year at the Tribune) complained about Naima’s “demeanor” to the others last summer, claiming that Naima was too “abrasive.” Naima learned her lesson to not let her guard down just yet. It was tiring of course. And on some mornings, she felt like staying in bed and closing her eyes, imagining she was someplace else, somewhere she could laugh as loud as she wanted, or even cry in public. At times like that, she’d tell herself that one day, it would all be worth it. One day, all this would be returned in full.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 3

Excerpt:

“I don’t know what to do,” Rhona said, gasping for breath. “They just came saying they needed to talk to me, and I didn’t say anything. I didn’t know who they were. I told you I wanted to be anonymous. I don’t want to be a part of this anymore.”

“Just stay calm, I’m on my way,” Naima said.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 4

Excerpt:

People fled, tripping and falling across the lawn.

For a moment, Subhash had the urge to jump into the crowd. He took a step forward. Tulsi wrapped her arms around his leg like it was a tree.

Subhash scooped her up into his arms and hustled to the opposite end, disappearing behind the art museum. He moved as fast as he could without losing his grip on Tulsi, as her arms were around his neck.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 5

Excerpt:

Blood trickled over his eyes.

He let the drops land on his shoes and carpet.

“Daddy, are you sick? Did you fall down?”

Soon, Naima arrived and dabbed the wounds, and they went upstairs. He laid in bed as she took off his shirt and wrapped his hands and feet with bandages.

Tulsi crept up the steps as well.

“What’s wrong with Daddy?”

“Nothing, honey. Daddy is just tired.”

“He looks hurt.”

“Just go back and watch your show.”

Naima applied pressure to Subhash’s side and Subhash grimaced.

Click here to read more.

CHAPTER 6

Excerpt:

 

After an assignment interviewing owners of a Italian/Thai fusion restaurant, which was opened in the neighborhood closest to the Holland Tunnel where most of the newer residents lived, the ones who wore sunglasses on cloudy days as well as khakis and sandals, Naima stopped at a C-Town in Journal Square. She was on her way to the office, but feeling thirsty, hungry and her contacts were irritating her eyes. The C-Town was next to a row of apartment buildings and convenience stores, and the aisles were filled with Caribbean and Indian spices. Naima grabbed a Snapple from the freezer and was ready to pop it open on the spot. However, she stepped aside, allowing a family and their shopping cart to get through, and caught a glimpse of a face in the corner of her eye. She quickly hid behind a column of Reese’s Puffs cereal and Ramen noodles.

Click here to read more.

 

CHAPTER 7

Excerpt:

Naima rushed down the stairs, her coat flying like a cape. She jumped off the last steps and grabbed the door knob.

“What are you doing?” Subhash said.

“I’m late,” she replied, gasping for breath.

Subhash was at the top landing.

“It’s still out there,” he said.

Click here to read more.

Not an ‘Other’

 

by Haley Gittleman

 

“What are you?”

It’s the most cringe-worthy question all biracial people are asked throughout their lifetime.  I don’t exactly remember at what age I was first asked this question – it was sometime during my elementary school days – but even as a young child, I knew this question referred to my racial identity.  And as a young girl, I did not find this question to be offensive.  Why would I?  I was born to a white Jewish father and a Chinese Protestant mother in East Brunswick, NJ, a town that, according to Urban Dictionary, is “populated by wealthy Jews, Asians, and Italians”.  So I should have fit right in.  I should have been just like everybody else.  Right?

“What are you?”  I’m an extrovert.

In elementary school, I paid as much attention to race as I did to Social Studies – none.  Although my two best friends in the world were tall, pretty blonde girls, I had friends of all shapes, sizes, and colors.  But something strange happened when I entered middle school.  Maybe it was because all of the elementary schools were suddenly thrown into one and we were all afraid of this huge change, but the students seemed to enter the front doors and funnel themselves into neat little categories, or cliques.  Yes, social cliques are normal and expected, but cliques by race was something I had never expected.  Each morning before the bell rang, I would walk down the hallways and see clusters of color.  So what did this mean for me?  Where was I supposed to go?

“What are you?”  I’m a violinist.

In middle school, I was separated from my two best friends.  I was thrown into advanced math – they weren’t; I joined the orchestra – they joined the band.  In fact, we didn’t share any classes at all.  This is when they first started to see and treat me as an outsider.  I missed them so much.  But, being the outgoing middle schooler I was, I decided to make new friends.  Perhaps it was because I was in advanced math and orchestra, but the students I was meeting were mostly Chinese.  (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but hey, some stereotypes are true.)  One-on-one, the Chinese kids seemed to accept me.  But in a group setting, I often received some not-so-subtle signs that I wasn’t welcome.  For example, I’d go over to talk to them and they’d switch their conversation from English to Mandarin.  (The only words I know how to say in Mandarin are “thank you” and “pork bun”.)  When I started going on kid-dates with one of the Chinese boys, a girl in the clique told me that I couldn’t “take their men” and even went as far as to blackmail him with an embarrassing photo to “break-up” with me.  I think it was when the Chinese girls invited me to an AIM chatroom (remember that?) in seventh grade with the sole purpose of telling me I should probably kill myself that it finally dawned on me to find some new friends.

“What are you?”  I’m a loner.

I was alone a lot in junior high.  I was too distrusting of new people.  But in the ninth grade, I met a nice Jewish boy.  Although he was one of the popular kids and a bit of a jock, he was different.  Smart, sensitive, and sweet (and of course, very handsome).  I crushed on him hard for the entire year, unreciprocated.  But a month before we graduated from junior high, he asked me out on a date, and we were together for the majority of high school.  When I was with him, the only discrimination I faced was from the other popular kids who constantly reminded me that I wasn’t popular enough to be with him.  This was much more easy to swallow than being bullied for not being “Asian enough”.

“What are you?”  I’m a strategist.

He was my gateway to having a social life in high school.  The parties, the volleyball games, trips to the shore, prom, new friendships.  To him and the new friends I acquired, I wasn’t “half-Asian” or “half-white”; I was a whole, complete person.  I didn’t have to think or worry about race.  Well, not until I had to take the SAT and fill out college applications.  “How would identify your race?  Choose 1.”  When you’re a 50/50 mix, how do you choose one?  Of course, these forms always provide the dreaded “other” category, but who would ever identify as an “other”?  Who would choose to feel sub-human?  Well, I’ll tell you what I did – I chose whichever would give me the biggest advantage.  I had heard about colleges having an Asian quota, so on the SAT and my applications, I was white.  I hated being forced to choose.  I hated being forced to deny half of my identity.

“What are you?”  I’m a goofball.

I was fortunate enough to be accepted to Oberlin College, where I studied biochemistry.  I had chosen that school for many reasons, the first-and-foremost being their liberal ideologies and overall acceptance of those who were different.  Many of the Oberlin students had felt like outsiders in high school.  The four years I spent there were amongst the happiest of my life.  College was just like elementary school!  A bunch of goofy kids running around with Nerf guns who liked to play ping-pong and Rock Band and have fake sumo wrestling matches in the lounge.  There were no cliques.  It didn’t matter if you were queer, trans, poor, nerdy, biracial, bisexual, socially awkward, just so long as you weren’t a Republican (only half-kidding).  And the best part of all, I got to meet biracial and multiracial students just like me, people with whom I’ve shared similar experiences.  In fact, Oberlin College reports that 6.1% of the students identify as multiracial!  Compare this to the 2010 Census, where only 2.3% of people reported being “more than one race.”  Side note, but the Census didn’t even allow people to choose more than one race until 2000, even though interracial marriage was decriminalized in 1967!

“What are you?”  I’m a biostatistician.

Unfortunately, after my four years were up, I had to leave the bubble and enter the real world.  I decided to change gears and get my Master’s degree in biostatistics at Rutgers University.  On the first day of classes, I sat alone.  A Chinese girl sat down next to me and started speaking to me in Mandarin.  I apologized and told her I didn’t speak the language, and she literally got up and moved to another seat.  Things aren’t much different in my current PhD program at Case Western Reserve University.  The majority of my classmates are non-native English speakers and look at me like I’m an alien.  I even mentioned once that my mother is Chinese, which astounded many of the students.  It always baffles me that my silky dark brown hair and almond-shaped light brown eyes aren’t enough to pass considering that’s all non-Asian people see when they look at me.

“What are you?”  I’m an American.

To make matters worse, outside of classes, I have to deal with ignorant Ohioans on a regular basis.  Like last Fall, I went to a comic con in Akron.  An older white man pulled me aside and asked me my least favorite question, “What are you?”  Of course I knew what he meant, but I replied, “What do you mean?”  “What’s your nationality?”  “I’m American.”  “No, what’s your race?”  “I’m biracial.”  Then he started screaming at me, “YOU ARE ASIAN!  WHAT KIND OF ASIAN ARE YOU?!”  Last December, a black nurse at my former health clinic asked me if I was going home for the holidays.  I told her I was and she told me to have a safe flight.  I told her I was driving.  She asked, “But, aren’t you going overseas?”  I said that my family was from New Jersey.  She asked, “But, aren’t you Chinese?”  She couldn’t grasp my situation, all because I didn’t look “white enough” to her.  Last week, I made an appointment at a new healthcare facility and the nurse needed my demographic information.  She asked me for my race.  I told her that I was biracial: half-white, half-Chinese.  She said, “We don’t have a category for that… I’ll just put you down as ‘Other’”.

“What are you?”  I am many things.

I’m a mathematician, a musician, a dancer, a dreamer.  My racial identity has shaped and molded me, but it does not define me.  It will continue to challenge me and make me strong.  It will always allow me see the world differently from those who have never been forced to choose, from those who fit into a neat little category.  But one thing is clear: I will never let my racial identity reduce me to something less than whole.  I am most certainly not and will never be an “other”.

Haley is a biostatistician at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, as well as a PhD student at Case Western Reserve University.  In her free time, she enjoys playing the keyboard, tap and swing dance, videogames, and antagonizing her kittens.

Do I believe in America

Do I believe in America?
Abroad, I’m loud.
It’s abroad that others call me, red, white, and blue, and cocky.
Do I believe in America?
I’ve been a foreigner, over and over.
I’ve been eons away.
It’s all a fashionable haze…
But she’s here in America.
She lives here, beneath the sun.
She gathers herself each night, probably takes the metro.
She knows her name.
Across a heavy sceen, that looms and loops, that includes American jeans, American guns, she sneezed and wipes her nose.
I coughed and clear my throat.
Hand in hand.
America