In the Home Stretch

Hello! Quick post because I’m utterly exhausted. Yesterday was a lot of work. Moved stuff, started to paint as far as I could reach, packed and gave away free stuff. If you’re trying to unload items you don’t want, try Freecycle
People will come to you, pick up stuff, leave and hopefully not hurt you. So far, so good!
Today, N came over with bagels and coffee. I think more as a peace offering than a way to kick start a fun day of painting. He was supposed to help Tuesday but “something came up” and yada yada. I’m pretty sure home improvement projects have been tearing otherwise happy “couples” apart since the dawn of time. I told Mara today was a success because no one was murdered in the process of turning walls back into that disgusting off-white apartments are always colored.
And, thank you N for all the help. I couldn’t have done it without your 6’3″ stature (no ladder).
Austin has postponed a decision again on next moves so I remain in limbo. Limbo isn’t that bad. I hear limbo is cooking a fabulous welcome home dinner Friday night.
And on that note, gotta sell my goods to some fine folks who should be here shortly and then off to dinner with a few buds. Life is good.

Day 18 – The After Party

Truth
Truth

I’m cranky. I’m getting sick. I’m complaining. I’m tired of dealing with really stupid people. Here is a little bit of what I’m talking about:

  • Posted furniture on Craigslist, $60 for bar set with stools, no I’m not selling it to you for $20, even if you do follow that offer up by saying, not trying to lowball you. Yes, yes you are. Go away.
  • Guy wants my TV. Arrange time and date for pick up. Waiting for him to call. Waiting. Waiting. See he’s emailing me, email back 15 minutes later. He can’t get it anymore. He didn’t have my number. My number is my contact information in the posting he originally contacted. Stupid. Plain stupid.
  • The waitress who will be receiving all tips from the people at the party says she’s really hangover and can’t get her shit together. You carry beer from a bar to a patron and collect money. What “shit” are you trying to handle? (Also, as a person who has been a hostess, waitress and bartender, complaining to people giving you money to make them happy is probably the worst thing you can do.) Job fail.

Moving on… Yes, there are a lot of frustrating things about today. But the weekend was great, and I just keep thinking about it. So many friends came out, even in the cold, even in the snow, even if it wasn’t in their neighborhood. That meant the world to me, because no one owes me anything. And I’m sure those that missed it will be eternally regretful.

Last St. Elmo's Fire meet up, missing Maq
Last St. Elmo’s Fire meet up, missing Maq

It was a giant success and I couldn’t have done it without Mara. She also kicked in a surprise and had people fill out well-wishing cards. I read them last night. I am really touched by the words, advice and support that filled those cards. I am sure I will read and re-read them when I feel down, lonely or nervous about my decision to leave NY and start over again.

Another really amazing and heartfelt moment from the weekend came in the form of a wedding party invitation. In life, I imagine we are only lucky enough to have a handful of BEST FRIENDS. People who stick by us through thick and thin, people who would break or bail us out of jail. One of those people is my friend Sean. Sean’s one of the strongest and self-sufficient people I’ve ever met and when he asked me to be a groomsman in his wedding, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

There’s nothing more I’d want to give someone than support and encouragement on one of the biggest days of their lives. We have a special friendship, and when he is happy, I am happy, even if the Men’s Warehouse will undoubtedly be confused when I show up for my fitting. Are there any ladies out there who have been a groomsman? I’d really like to know how you participated, what you wore, etc.

Sean and Cheesi do Manhattan
Sean and Chessi do Manhattan

I want to send a couple “shout outs” to some more special people in my life. Panda, Sauer, CJ, Maq, Andrea, Rob and Maria. It’s not about fitting people into the blog; it’s about those people fitting me into their lives. I wouldn’t change anything about them, except that I could pack them in a suitcase and we could all move together. Every day their love, creativity, humor and advice will be missed.

Last update: I thought the Austin agency was ruled out because I hadn’t heard from them. However, while writing this post, they emailed me that I am still in the running and I should hear next steps from them by Wednesday. It’s throwing a wrench in my “plan,” but an invited wrench indeed. Check in for updates….

Austin?
Austin?

Day 16 – Celebrating Saturday

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Westport 2012: The induction of Celebrate Saturday

You know that song Closing Time by Semisonic? I think it was the tear-jerker they played during the season finale of Seinfeld. [Aging myself.] Well, I can’t seem to get it out of my head. The lyrics are so poignant at this time in my life, especially today. Tonight is my going away party. Mara took the lead in planning it and finding the location. A private room at a bar called, Swift. (If it sucks, this is all on you, M.) So, in the song, when they sing “I hope you have found a friend,” I have. I have found many dear friends in this great city. And tonight, when they come out of the woodwork and we talk about days gone by, old jobs, bad bosses, good memories, catty fights of the past and our upcoming plans, I will know Semisonic is right, every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.

While I have 6 days left before I am considered illegally squatting, that time will be spent continuing to purge, painting walls back to white, crossing t’s and dotting i’s–not holding onto the past. I’m looking forward to the future. I’m not chasing a dream, I’m living one. And every day I am grateful for the people who have given me the courage to not know what’s next. Having a supportive network made up of friends and family is the difference between success and failure. And I attribute every gain in my life to them.

It’s 2, I should probably do something with the day other than wallow in nostalgia. With friends coming in from my hometown, maybe washing some dishes and vacuuming is in order. I sold my couch today, so that’s something. Oh, and I also exchanged my purchase from yesterday for a smaller size, thank you very much! However, I guess I forgot people have eyes because I left the house looking like something out of The Walking Dead. I’m just excited for tonight and I want it here already! I want to celebrate Saturday. And for the record, I know who I want to take me home.

Day 15 – Full on Pack-a-thon

Bye stuff :(
Bye stuff 😦

I’m gonna make this short and sweet because I am busy, busy busy! My once neatly organized and meticulously decorated apartment has become a total mess. Boxes, clothes, papers and questionable items litter every square inch.

I sold my coat rack yesterday so my jackets lay anywhere and everywhere. As I write this I’m sitting on 1970s, knee length, leather and fur thrift shop find I got two years ago while shopping with Rocks. I LOVE this coat. I never wear it, but I had to have it. When I wear it I feel like an Italian mobster’s girlfriend. It’s items like this one that I can’t bring myself to part with. I wonder if it would be overkill in San Diego with some cutoffs and 80s style knee-highs.

No anilmals were hurt in this century to make this BOSS coat
No animals were hurt in this century to make this BOSS coat

Today I have sold my iPhone 4s, my TV and my bar stools. Piece by piece this place will get emptier and emptier. After my TV is picked up Sunday night I’m not sure what I will stare at anymore, besides this computer of course. It’s cleansing. It’s also extremely hard to bargain for your property. I’ve spent all day on texts and emails negotiating. No, you cannot have the phone for $40 and get it delivered to your Bronx apartment—this isn’t Dominos and you don’t have a coupon.

I’m not a fashionista. I’ve always been more of a jeans and t-shirt kinda girl. Shoes. Shoes are my thing. I won’t spend more than $20 on a shirt, but I’ve had rent lower than a few pairs. My favorite “look” is some beat-up jeans, a slouchy shirt and some killer heels. For a look like this it can’t be 8 degrees. All week it has been miserably cold… frigid, and with a party tomorrow night I had no idea what to wear. This may be the last time I ever see some folks, gotta look fly.

So, I grabbed my very fashionable, unemployed copywriter friend who claims he can spend hours in JCrew and headed to H&M (January paychecks don’t last forever). Having a straight guy friend who likes to shop is amazing on so many levels. First, shuffling through lady clothes does not bother him. Second, if he says he’d bang me in it, it probably works (although he also said my tan, grandma bra wasn’t that bad either). $44 later I had a jumper, belt and world’s thickest tights, even though Mara says it will be the “warmest day of the week [28 degrees].”

Well, back to packing. Tomorrow is going to be an insanely fun day full of nostalgia, laughter and hopefully only joyful tears. By this time next week, I’ll be gone.

Day 14 – It’s Like Watching a Train Wreck

Let's get back on track, shall we?
Let’s get back on track, shall we?

I promised not to sugar coat anything. I’m going to be myself, not lie about what is going on in my life to save face. So here goes…

I almost set my living room on fire Wednesday night. Not on purpose! Everything is OK. Mom, don’t call me, I’m fine. I was watching TV, looking up airfares online and decided give myself some ambiance. I have a couple gorgeous smelling candles, but they are all about burnt out. I decided to finish off one of my faves, a gift given to me 2 years ago from an old girlfriend of mine. Sadly, I don’t see her much these days—unless I’m watching channel 1 news.

The explosion, a little cleaned up
The explosion, a little cleaned up

So, candles lit, alls well when I notice it’s not smelling so good anymore. I look up at my bookcase, where the candle is, and the whole fucking thing is on fire! The entire candle, which is housed in a glass vase and placed on a wood and glass jewelry box, It’s smoking and flaming and freaking me out! I’m not completely stupid, so I go to the kitchen and grab some oven mitts; I race back to the living room (I live in NYC, the distance from my kitchen to living room is like one long leap), and grab the engulfed candle. HOLY SHIT the oven mitts catch on fire, the glass vase cracks in half, and there is wax everywhere. I drop the entire ensemble into the kitchen sink and throw on the water. Glass, wax, flames spring alive and all over my counter and sink. The fire is out. No lives lost. Want an ironic end twist? That candle was a housewarming gift.

I’d love to say that in the last 48 hours that was the train wreck, but I haven’t gotten to last night. But before we go there let’s talk about IRAs and 401(k)s. I don’t know much about them, but my financial advisor, Evan, over at Ameriprise is always telling me to keep an eye on my contributions. I have participated in every 401(k) any employer has offered me. I think if I never stopped working until 70, I’d have like $40,000 to retire on. I don’t get it. I really am not financially savvy, so he does my bidding. He’s aggressive and when the numbers are low on my statements, he manages to pull them back up, so I just let him work. He says there will be more than 40k, I’m not too sure. My plan of marrying rich better work out.

Anyways, I need to rollover my Vanguard account (from my former employer) to Ameriprise. When I send Evan the info and numbers, he’s like where’s the employer match? Dude, no idea. Seriously. I haven’t looked at this since 2011 when I signed up. Do they even match? One would think. Did I do something wrong? Seems that way. So, I gotta follow up… another item on the to-do list. If only I paid attention to this stuff while I worked there. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Now, go check your 401(k) and don’t be me.

OK, so last night (face to table). I’m walking to my new favorite bar, to hang with my new favorite bartender friend and my UES wing-woman, Dona. I’m listening to The Mamas and the Papas California Dreaming.  It’s cold as hell, and the song warmed my heart. “All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey, out here for a walk on a winter’s day… California dreaming on such a winter’s day,” seriously perfect lyrics for the moment and soundtrack to my life. I have a great feeling about the night. Well, what I should have been listening to is a song that would go more like, don’t get drunk because you’re going to commit emotional suicide.

Closing time, Dona & I
Closing time, Dona & I

All’s well, until about 2am. Nothing good ever happens after 2am, btw… just go home! It hits me like a train and I become wrecked. I’m leaving. I’m leaving a place I’ve called home for years. I’ve made friends and enemies, I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve broken hearts, I searched high and low for the perfect sconces for the perfect lighting in my bedroom. I’ve made this place MY place. And I’m giving it all up and my poor, poor new bartender friend, who has known me for about 3 seconds, is like, fuck, this girl is drunk and emotional. He was kind about it, but I knew he was like, fuck, this sucks. (Side note: when I told See-Jay, fellow unemployed copywriter friend about this, he said, “I hate when girls cry right before we hook up.” That’s a direct quote.)

I’m pretty sure I ran home, crying. I made it to bed, and the evidence in my kitchen suggests I ate string cheese before calling it a night. Mara is throwing me a going away party on Saturday night, I may not drink. I can’t go out like that (lies, all lies).

In happier news, my stuff is listed on Craigslist finally because I made a big decision. I don’t care how awesome the NJ agency is, and I hope one day they give me a chance, but I can’t stay in the Northeast. West coast, here I come!

The Golden State
The Golden State

Day 12 – File Riot

Snap shot of my day: Cake, Gasparilla, Packing
Snap shot of my day: Cake, Gasparilla, Packing

To make up for my irresponsibility yesterday, I did so much responsible stuff today. I confirmed dentist and doctors appointments, called my insurance company for prices and coverage and checked my HSA. I have 10 days until I lose my benefits and I’m not going out without spending a little of the money I’ve already paid into it. Plus, out of all the things I want to keep throughout my life, my teeth are up there.

It snowed like hell today too, I decided to stay in and start packing. I collect Christmas ornaments of the cities I visit. One of these days I’m gonna get a Christmas tree to put them on, but anyways, I packed those first. I packed up some books I can’t get rid of, photographs, journals and trinkets. They all fit in three small parent-donated boxes.

I also went through this file box I’ve had since college. From my summer semester in Spain to course materials at SVA and freelance timesheets dated back to 2010, it was time for a file cleanse. It’s like a juice cleanse but I ate red velvet cake throughout the whole thing.

I found a picture of an old friend and I at the Gasparilla festival in Tampa, Florida, the year I went to University of Tampa (2002-2003). He’s married now. Works in finance. I’m still wandering around, with that same look of wonder and excitement on my face. Times they do change—people do not.

After hours of ditching files and organizing my life, I decided to head out into the snow to a bar. I know the bartender, Ray, and they have free wifi. I’m talking nonsense with him and “Boom” (he tells me he answers phones here at Luke’s) says he’s interested in our conversation that involves, a blog, sex life and crying. What he thinks we’re talking about sounds far more interesting than it actually is. He asks me if I’m a call girl.

I’ve gone from advertising copywriter to call girl in 12 days. I feel like Fantine in Les Miserables. Not really, she was an actual prostitute, I’m just a girl in a bar late afternoon, sitting alone, drinking vodka and taping away on my keyboard.

I forgive “Boom” for asking me if I beat men for money and he says he could get me a job on the west coast. And another beautiful friendship is developed here in Manhattan while holding down a couple of bar stools.

 

Day 10 – Lazy Sunday

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The Broncos and Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl. I’m not really that interested, but I feel like I should know who is playing in Super Bowl 48, it is in my backyard after all. (Side note: did anyone else think it was weird when Sherman freaked out during Erin Andrew’s interview at the end of the game? See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vyvvWDyuYM) I can imagine how Airbnb must be blowing up with Jersian’s and NY’ers alike renting out spare rooms and even couches. I’ve used the site many times to rent out my apartment while away, and it’s pure genius. Creates an income for strapped people like myself, and gives out-of-towners a more affordable way to enjoy this great city.

Speaking of this great city, meeting random people at any hour of any day is one of the reasons I will miss this place. Last night was a success, and I had a great time over-carbing with my girlfriends, Andrea and Dona. After a couple of bottles of delicious Spanish wine, I believe it’s called Amor (a red similar to pinot noir); we headed out on the town.

The three of us ended up meeting a group of guys, old friends from Staten Island and joining them at Horseshoe Bar. I think this is the same bar they filmed a lot of scenes from Rescue Me starring Denis Leary. Anyways, in this group was an incredible man that I endearingly saved in my phone as “Italian John.”

John told me a story I won’t soon forget. A couple of years ago, he was in a swimming accident that rendered him wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life. As a good-looking, athletic 20-something, one may think he’d become depressed, feel robbed of a life he didn’t get to live, but he’s nothing like that. He’s optimistic, funny, engaging and full of spirit. It’s people like him, and stories like his that make me believe anything is possible with the right attitude and open mind.

After last night, I did some thinking, here are my Top 5 reasons I will miss and not miss NYC:

Miss List

  1. Opportunity to meet a different person, every day at any time
  2. Getting literally anything you want delivered, day or night
  3. Living alone, I’ll probably have to take a break from that for a while
  4. The amazing friendships I’ve developed
  5. Changing NYC seasons, in between cold-as-hell and hot-as-shit is perfection

 Not-miss List

  1. Commuting, there’s nothing like being stuffed into a subway train everyday
  2. Caught in the pouring rain, freezing cold, sweltering heat, hail, winds, etc
  3. The prices of EVERYTHING
  4. Lines everywhere. From bars to bathrooms to getting through revolving doors
  5. Carrying tons of stuff, groceries, laundry, gym bag, laptop bag, NO CAR

 

 

 

Day 9 – Love and Family

Going on Year 3
Going on Year 3

A casual night out at a friendly Astoria bar, our MO if you will. That’s how we met and that’s how we’ll say our last goodbyes. Over the course of our courtship, Jameson has brought us together and torn us apart.

N has introduced me to The Saw Doctors (great music, check them out) and what it means to really love someone. This post is a little tribute to that relationship I guess. One thing I’ve certainly learned is that you can’t be with someone until you’re ok with being with yourself. That thought definitely transpires into this project.

I’m not running from anything. That’s not why I’m leaving. Technically, I’m looking for something… I’m not sure what but I’m pretty sure it’s not love. I have love. I used to think man met woman, they fell in love, argued over where to live, got married, had kids, hated kids, loved older-aged kids, died.

That’s not how we’ve been. We do it our own way, and it’s a little backward and it may not make sense to outsiders, but whether or not we “make it” isn’t measurable up to this point. It’s what happens after this. We’re not gonna play the long-distance game. No one wins in that game. The motions of the universe brought us together, and it will do what it wants between now and…forever. I don’t believe in fate though, I believe in coffee, kindness and keeping it simple.

N may have played an integral role in the last 3 years, but he has nothing to do with the next chapter in my life. Sorry, N, but at 35 years old, I think he’s still searching for what he wants to. This will be good for both of us.

Anyways, you know what’s great? Looking back on all the fun and fiascos you’ve shared with your friends, and tonight I plan on doing that with a couple girlfriends. A little Spanish tapas dinner action, followed by some rump shakin’ in some basement club. Girls’ nights out are always a blast. Shameless flirting, gossiping and those late nights are always followed by drinks for breakfast, known to New Yorker’s everywhere as brunch.

Nowadays, those late nights are also followed by the worst pain in my knees, lower back and feet. It’s funny that as you age the more money you have to spend to go out, but you just wanna couch it because even though 30 may be the new 20, your joints do not give a fuck.

And now, I’m going to meet my little brother (who is actually almost 24, not so little). We haven’t always been the best of friends, but we’re working on that. I’m attributing that openness to this project of redefining what I find most important in my life. Family is tops. It takes a lot to heal deep and painful wounds, but it’s worth it. This life is all about stepping outside your comfort zone, is it not?