The blog has been refreshed from top to bottom so take a look around. You can find links to my resume, a contact page if you’d like to work together, ways to contribute on the left, and links to all of my other social media channels as well. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment and let me know if you’d like to read, watch or listen to any specific content.
I plan to publish a new “project” in the coming week and I hope you all will stick around as I experiment with more writing, recording, and live chats this year.
This weekend my mother, father, and I traveled to Asheville, North Carolina for a once-in-a-lifetime event: we are meeting two of my father’s biological siblings.
My father is 59 years old and will be meeting members of his biological family for the first time thanks to something many of you may have tried: a commercial DNA test—an Ancestry.com DNA test to be exact.
I found out my dad was adopted at a young age—I don’t remember just how young but certainly before 2nd grade. Beginning in earnest around 5th grade, I attempted to find his biological family—this mostly consisted of combing through digital copies of newspapers or making posts on discussion boards.
I’m a naturally curious person and have always loved to do research but I can’t really tell you why I wanted to find his biological family. I know a big reason was my desperation to have a culture. Growing up in Hawai’i I always felt so, so left out and lesser than for not having a culture, language, or group to belong to—I thought if I could find my dad’s family that would be the key to unlocking my culture and all the amazing things that come along with having one. I was in 5th grade and obviously didn’t understand the larger implications of this but none the less it motivated me back then.
I was extremely close to his adoptive parents, even closer than I was to my own maternal, biological grandparents. They liked movies and music and were well educated. I was able to go to their house and listen to cool records, read interesting books, watch films, and hear all about politics and history. My father’s adoptive father died when I was in 5th grade and his adoptive mother came to live with us shortly thereafter. She was dying of brain cancer at the time and was also suffering from several chemical dependencies. During her time living with us and during end-of-life care she told my mother and father details about his biological family that no one had known. She told us his biological family was from South Carolina, that his mom’s husband was a Postman who had been killed in an accident, and that she had several other small children to care for alone.
My father was born at Saint Joseph’s hospital in Savannah, Georgia on December 28, 1959. His adoptive mother was a nurse at the hospital and after struggling with infertility she and her husband began the adoption process through the Catholic Church. The hospital contacted them immediately when my father was born and they were connected with a social worker who relayed details about his biological family and finalized the adoption. During that time, the State of Georgia “blacked out” all birth certificates of adoptees so there was no way for anyone to gain any information about my father’s biological family.
After adopting my father, his parents relocated to Athens, Georgia, finally settling in Carrollton, Georgia in the early 1960s.
Throughout my life, I begged my father to find his biological family but he was never interested in doing so. He never presented any objections beyond saying he felt he had a good childhood and didn’t need a new family.
When he became a grandfather in 2009 I asked again and he relented. After a couple of years of back and forth, he agreed to hire an agency to find his family. The agency successfully found his 80+-year-old mother. He was permitted to write her a letter and he did so but her response wasn’t what he had hoped. She responded to his letter and while the agency would not pass the letter on they agreed to read the letter to my father: his biological mother was not interested in establishing a relationship with him. They relayed a few other details over the phone but since my father didn’t have a way to record, reread, or take down the details, that was the end of the line.
I had been pushing him to follow through with this process for 20 years and when he finally agreed he was met with further rejection from someone he’d never met. The one friend I confided in said I should have just left things alone and that things happened the way they were supposed to in the past so I shouldn’t have pushed to change them now…I felt extremely guilty.
A year or two afterward, I asked my mother to buy DNA tests in a last-ditch effort to find some additional information. My mother and I ordered Ancestry.com DNA tests. My father lives and works overseas so we planned to get him one at a later date. We spit into the tubes and mailed them off.
I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that nothing in New York City is simple.
What I thought was a 4 day search that ended in 3 possible apartments, quickly turned in to a 3 week saga and many angry phone calls.
After my awesome day of seeing 7 apartments and applying for 3, I hit a brick wall. I can’t say why, but I do believe that the agent I was passed off to in Riverdale was not a proactive as he could have been.
With $1200 cash in his pocket and all of the required paperwork from my cosigner/guarantor and I, I don’t understand why all 7 apartments fell through.
He didn’t contact me for days and despite many texts and calls from me, I didn’t find out until the middle of the following week that I hadn’t gotten my dream apartment and the 3rd apartment in my queue was already rented. By the end of the second week, I thought I was only waiting on the second apartment. One of the other apartments I saw was still available, but it was my last-ditch option. I saw the second apartment I was waiting on listed online and I got my mom to call and ask about it and it turns out it was rented. So, after all of that previous work, two weeks later and I was literally at square one.
I panicked and started cruising site after site to find anything and everything.
I applied to a Christian dorm at the NYSUM in Queens (I highly suggest applying if you are moving to NYC-it’s only $5000 a year). I never heard back from them, but I do think it’s a good option, so check it out!
I looked on ACME Listings and found several other listings and my mom found a guy online that was renting out a room in his apartment. I called my agent at Rapid Riverdale and told him that my cosigner and I were coming back to the city and we were ready to look at as many apartments as possible and sign leases ASAP.
My mother and I rented a car, packed it up, and drove to New Jersey.
The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and took the train in to New York. I had set up an appointment with another real estate agent, but the train to New York was stuck on the track for over an hour and I missed my appointment. We made our way to Rapid Riverdale and my agent took us to see an apartment. It was in Riverdale, but far from the train and $100 over my new budget and $300 to $400 over my original budget. We went back to the office to wait for another agent to take us to a few other viewings and there were signs on the front of the office advertising one bedrooms for under $1200 a month. I asked my agent and he acted as though he knew nothing about it, but asked another agent named Serin!
Serin rocked! He came into the room where my mother and I were waiting. By this time I was pissed that my agent had let 7 places slip away and that I had to find listings for us to go see, when I was paying HIM a broker fee. So, I just spoke up and told Serin that I would take anything under $1200 that I could move into immediately. Serin took my mother and I to look at a huge place in the Bronx. It was a one bedroom that could be two, in a Dominican neighborhood, and was $1175 a month. We went to see two others and I told them to put my application in for 3 of the 4 apartments we saw (we saw a janky one near Yankee Stadium). My mom was NOT happy with any of them, except the one in Riverdale, and was especially not happy about me living in the Bronx alone.
Hey everyone! How have you all been? I am sure you are all wondering why I never started my New York blog series. I know it has been almost 3 weeks since I made the announcement and I have yet to post the first installment. Well, long story short, it is a major pain in the ass to move to New York City. Ignorantly, I had these ideas about 19 year olds from the Midwest that just up and move to New York and automatically find a one room studio for $800 a month and just work day and night to move up to a one bedroom whenever they’ve saved enough money.
Let me just say, if you are thinking about this little fantasy too, THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS.
Reality smacked me in the face quite quickly. About a month ago, I went up to Massachusetts with my boyfriend. He has a timeshare up there and we figured we could just take the train into the city everyday and find something quickly. I had been looking on Zillow.com and Trulia.com for a few weeks, but everyone that I called or emailed said to call them when I got to the city because the listings that were available would be gone by the time I got there. I later found out that the average listing is only available for 48 hours, so you have to jump on them immediately and submit an application.
I found one realtor online that worked in Brooklyn (from what I understand the real estate licenses in the city are only good for one borough, so most agents stick to one borough). She called me about a week before I was due to arrive and I gave her my budget and the areas I wanted to live. At this time, I had this fantasy in my mind that I would be able to find a studio for $900, so I said that my budget was $1000 a month. I did not have any other requirements. As I am not moving my furniture, I did not care about square footage or anything. This agent told me to contact her when I got to New York, so on the ride up to Massachusetts I called her and we talked for about 45 minutes. She said she would look and call me back the next morning.
I found out through research that if you are not employed in New York City, you have to have a cosigner from the tri-state area. If you call people and tell them you are a student and you have cash for the lease (which I did), they still won’t show you the listing because most places require you to have a minimum income of 40 times the rent. i.e. A studio for $1000 a month means you have to make $40,000 at a job in New York.