So, I didn’t write a post for the new year since I was out of town, but I’m going to do it NOW!
I am back in New York after 6 weeks away and I am facing what seems like an insurmountable task: I have to build a new life. From scratch.
I always struggle to find things to write about on this blog because I often feel like my life isn’t really exciting or I’m too embarrassed to write about my real opinions and struggles, but I came to a realization recently and the truth is, I have a lot to write about-I just need to gather the courage and be honest. So here’s the latest episode in the life of moi!
I’m sure you’re wondering why I have to build a new life for myself. I’ve told my three closest friends and my mom, but that’s about it. The bottom line is, I did not abide by old adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” I put all my eggs and the chickens that hatched them in the same basket and that basket was Riverdale, Bronx, NY. I worked there, I lived there, I loved there, and I spent all my time there for 2 years.
I moved to NYC in 2014 and found an apartment I could afford by myself in the Bronx. It wasn’t rent stabilized and it went up like 5 percent a year. The lease on my apartment on the Grand Concourse was up at the end of August 2016 and I decided not to renew it because they upped my rent to $1300 a month (I know, I know. All you NYCers are going “Whattt the hell? That’s peanuts!”). I know now that I made a terrible mistake, but alas, I have also realized I am apparently not great at making responsible life choices. I was not making enough money to pay that amount of rent living alone and stay on top of my student loan payments, plus the commute to work before I had my car was an hour and a half-so I chose to stay on top of my loan payments and move out.
SN: It was also in Mount Hope which was not necessarily a safe environment for my single self to be staying. I never had any problems but I (and my parents) felt like it was a ticking time bomb before something was bound to occur and it was also not great that I didn’t feel safe to leave my apartment after dark.
Before moving, I looked for an apartment for over a month, consulted two real estate agents, put up flyers-basically anything you can imagine. Long story short, there were no other apartments anywhere for less than $1300 a month (except in Far Rockaway or New Jersey) and despite the flyers and asking around I was unable to find a roommate during the month. I made a friend last March (the professor who is teaching me Hebrew and Judaica and who I went to Israel with) and we had been casually dating for 6 months. We didn’t really label anything and while the relationship was serious, it was multifaceted and was not just romantic, but also largely academic in nature. He knew about my search and asked me to move in with him. It was a 3 minute WALK to work and the apartment was in a nice building in a safe, clean, and quiet environment. Things were going great, I continued working, I was learning Hebrew and studying Judaism (in hopes of expanding my past scholarship of the subject incase I got into a PhD program), and as far as I knew things were cool. In September we planned a trip to Israel together for December and I gave my boss my notice. I had planned to quit my job because the client I was taking care of had deteriorated and her condition became very difficult for me to handle. Plus, I had a new M.A. and I really wanted to find a career utilizing my existing talents. Little did I know, this wasn’t a permanent or even semi-permanent living arrangement. There is a significant age difference between us and a religious difference, so it turns out that when people in the community found out about the nature of our relationship and about my religious affiliation things did not go over well. Since I am not part of the social/religious scene in the community, I was unaware that things had gone awry until I was informed that I needed to move.
A few days before my last day at work and a week or so before my trip to Israel, some extremely complicated circumstances arose and my friend was told directly that living with me was not right or proper or pious or normal or good due to the aforementioned age and religious differences. Members of the community insulted my character and questioned my motives and life choices (all this without my knowledge). Several people got involved and long story short, they made it impossible for me to continue living there-against the wishes of both my friend and I. It was an insanely unfortunate and heartbreaking turn of events for yours truly and taught me an extremely hard lesson. I quit my job under the impression I would have a place to stay after the trip while I looked for a career. But as fate would have it, within a 3 day period, I was a soon to be 28 year old, going into a new year as a single, childless, homeless, jobless woman with a ticket to Israel, a few college degrees, and not much else.
Needless to say, this reality hit me like a ton of bricks, so after a two-day sobbing fit, I had to put my big girl pants on and get to fixing (while packing for a month-long trip).
In between more crying (again, at this point, still believing I had been dumped out of the blue), I got a second storage room and moved all my clothes, kitchen appliances, bedding, and hygiene stuff in (I moved all my furniture and stuff into storage when I left my apartment). I met with a friend and put out ads on half a dozen apps looking for rentals/roomshares and I started saving job listings.
SN #1: I was unaware of the behind-the-scenes circumstances that led to me being kicked out of where I was living until I got to Israel and investigated and uncovered what happened on my own. From the start, my friend had taken the blame and said he had just changed his mind about our relationship (which made me extremely upset and confused me greatly since things had been going so well), but then when I found out the truth on my own, he explained the entire two month long saga that led up to the atomic-bomb level explosion that occurred right before the trip. I am not really at liberty to give specific details (yet again, people stay steady creepin’ my social networks, haha) but his clarification of the events did help me understand the situation-specifically the socio-economic intricacies of the Jewish community-and after a few days of walking around Tel Aviv together, things were resolved between us. However, despite the clarity and resolution, my situation remained the same, obviously.
SN #2: Also, funny (funny as in mind-shatteringly depressing) freaking story. Back in October (maybe early November, I honestly can’t remember) I took the test for entry into the State Department for the second time. See, you can take and pass the test numerous times before you are invited for an interview. I passed the test in 2010 but wasn’t invited for an interview, so I decided to take the test again. I passed it and was waiting for the results when all this happened. Well, I’m sure you can guess by now, I found out about a week before my return from Israel that I passed the test for a second time but wasn’t invited for an interview. On top of everything else, this kind of sent me over the edge emotionally. My two dream careers at this point (now that I know National Geographic photographer and Oscar winning actress are out of reach) are being a professor (at a private university) or joining the State Department. I can’t seem to get into a PhD program and I can’t seem to get into the State Department. So, not only am I working to build a new life, I also have to find a new dream. And that’s just heartbreaking, y’all!
I found a room rental with a friend of a friend from NYU a few days before I left for my trip (🙏🏻🙌🏻🙏🏻 PTL) and used my last pay check to pay through February. I went home to Texas after my trip to Israel and had another sobbing fest with my mom and my best friends and some tequila which also helped a lot. Then I started applying for jobs. I’ve applied for over 35 jobs so far and plan to keep applying until I find something. While I apply for jobs, my next order of business is to sell and/or donate as many of the things I have in storage as possible. I spent last week cleaning out my second storage room and donated/threw away 6+ bags of clothes, numerous pairs of shoes, an entire kitchen, and an entire office. I need to sell my bed, couch, and dining room table and chairs next. When I got to Israel, I found another more permanent living situation with some new roommates in Washington Heights and will be moving there tomorrow. I’ve signed a lease for 3 months just in case I don’t find a job or it’s secretly a crack-den. Once I find a job, I can start looking for a more permanent living situation and thennn this whole ordeal will be fixed.
I’m so angry and disappointed. I’m disappointed that I decided to trust and depend on someone and in the end both of our lives were turned upside down by external circumstances. It was instantly made clear to me that no matter one’s age or net worth or religion or social network or character, none of us is in control of ANYTHING. It is terrifying. I am very quick to identify my mistakes in situations and let me tell youuu, I have made a ton of shitty mistakes in my life, but I felt like I was making well-meaning and seemingly responsible choices, yet here I am. While I am angry and disappointed, I am equally exhausted. One after the other, from the time I was 17-so, over a decade now-I have loved boys and men that were either incapable of loving me the way I loved them or simply did not want to love me back (I broke a couple of hearts and dated a few pathological liars too, so it’s been a bundle of fun, of course). I am exhausted. I trusted my gut and did something I thought was good and right and it caused my life to implode. I loved another person unconditionally and have been punished for it. I’m sad that my character and life have been judged and changed by people I don’t know and who don’t know me, solely because of my age and religion. My education didn’t matter, my character didn’t matter, my morals didn’t matter, my personality didn’t matter, my looks didn’t matter, my work ethic didn’t matter, my reputation didn’t matter, the fact that I took care of a woman in the community for two years didn’t matter, the fact I embraced a religion, language and culture that were not my own didn’t matter. Nothing mattered except what a group of people thought about me. What was going to be a fun month abroad followed by an intensive career search to kick off my adult life in a passionate new direction has now turned into a frantic search for a job while living out of a suitcase and renting a bed in a boarding house.
On top of all this, my parents are going through their own challenges with illnesses, career changes, and family obligations (my grandmother in Alabama was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s), so this time around I have to pick myself up and figure all this out on my own. I’m an only child so it’s only natural that I learn to cope with stuff and figure out this life independently of everyone, but I do wish it would have happened a little more gradually this go-around.
Despite the whirlwind of events and emotions, I do feel liberated in a sense. I went through one of these life/emotion/consciousness-shifting events in late 2011/12 and it led me here to New York, so who’s to say where this will catapult me next. Other than the looming anvil that is student loan payments, I am fortunate to have savings and wonderful credit, so as long as I can find a job in a reasonable length of time, everything will be fine.
SN: I started reading the Bible recently. Partly for scholarship and partly to atone or shake off whatever kind of bad juju one of y’all has put on me. If you’re interested check out this site. My friend is an expert of the Bible so it’s been cool to be able to ask questions and get real answers without feeling like a heretic. (The last time I read the Bible at length was in 7th grade at an evangelical private school and asking questions/challenging the teacher’s interpretation/not accepting it as literal was highlyyy frowned upon). It presents the Bible in like 10 formats and also includes commentary, translations, and other versions. I didn’t realize Beersheba was such a big part of the Bible so it makes it even cooler that I was there!
So, my 2017 started off in a heavenly location, with phenomenal people (as I said-this situation was restricted completely to Riverdale-everyone in Israel accepted me with zero judgement and was extremely nice), while I was in complete turmoil internally because I do not know what I’m going to do with my life. I’ll be renting a room and living out of a suitcase for the foreseeable future. If I can’t find a job in the next 12 weeks, I’ll be doing the U-Haul thing while towing my car from NYC to Dallas, which would be a literal nightmare.
I have faith things are going to work out though!
I did make some resolutions while I was on my trip (follow me on li.st):
1. Sell/donate my belongings.
2. Take concrete steps toward starting a career.
4. Think more carefully before speaking.
5. Start a creative/artistic project (hopefully YouTube if I can ever make time to edit).
6. Put more effort into cultivating friendships.
7. Love someone.
8. Dedicate more time to my mental, physical, and spiritual health.
9. Work at being more patient.
10. Curb the intensity of my emotional reactions.
Check back in because I will be posting updates on my furniture-selling-job-hunting-freezing-my-ass-off-in-New York-in-February-room-renting-crazy life!
Talk to y’all later!
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