Day 6 – Unemployment Benefits

Image

I wrote a ‘Thank You’ note to an agency for their time today, and began it with a friendly opening. I said something to the effect of, it’s almost the weekend, but everyday is weekend day when you’re unemployed. This got me thinking…

Unemployment. Just the word brings different feelings to different people. Ex-President Ronald Reagan once said, “Unemployment is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders.” I’m not gonna argue with Mr. Reagan, but I will politely say, define freeloader.

I don’t feel like a freeloader. For one thing, I haven’t received anything for “free.” I am still receiving my actual paycheck from the ad agency where I provided compelling headlines and gave up ideas like geo-targeting direct mail consumers (side note: I apologize to the readers who hate direct mail, just doing my job).

However, I did file a claim for unemployment today. Which means on January 22, I could collect that “free” payout. I’ll let you know on 1/22, but I still don’t think I will feel like a freeloader. While being paid via company, I worked my ass off. And as a resident of New York City, I paid for it. According to Mint.com (this is not a paid advertisement, but Mint.com is the shit), I gave up over $25,000 of my salary to taxes this year. 25?! That’s a Volkswagen—a nice one! And because I did that, I have earned the measly income this country allows while in-between jobs. It would also take me over 60 weeks to recoup that money, and I don’t think I will be collecting for that long (what’s the average time it takes to get a job these days?).

But I digress; Everyday does feel like a weekend day to me. I run errands while you run to meetings. I apply for jobs while you make mental notes to apply for that job you saw when you get home. I can work around other people’s busy schedules and, to be honest, it’s relieving. But, I’m still working.

I’m writing for one thing. This blog has given me a sense of purpose and the response has been amazing and surprising. People have in return shared with me their layoff and moving stories, they’ve given me suggestions and feedback, and for this I am grateful. I have had a couple people request more pictures—of my life as well as the people I am talking about. It’s in the works.

This has all been possible because I don’t have a job. The energy, imagination and desire to want to put myself out there has all been because as confident as I am that it will all be OK, I’m vulnerable at the same time. It’s new for me. NYC makes people hard, guarded and tough. It’s exhausting. For me, the benefits of unemployment don’t come in monetary form. They come in the comfort of knowing that opportunity is ahead; as long as I’m open to new things, new places, new experiences, I will benefit from this little severance project.

Speaking of all things new, I learned that I could apply for a Work/Holiday Visa in Australia for the low-low price of $420. This offer is only valid until I am 31—yes, apparently Australian’s are ageists. Does this mean the plane drops down in Sydney and I am just welcomed by a swarm of 18-31 year olds? Because I’d totally be down for that. But $420 just to apply? That’s quite the commitment.

What do you think? Is it worth trying my hand at a 1-year move to the land down under? Have you ever been? Let me know.

Continue reading “Day 6 – Unemployment Benefits”

Day 5.5 – Wanting What You Can’t Have

Anniversary Gifts We Both "Happen" To Wear When Together
Anniversary Gifts We Both “Happen” To Wear When Together

What the hell, men? First N and now DJ. “I love you” is being dropped more than the F-word in The Wolf of Wall Street. If I knew all I had to do was to be sure of myself and walk away to get some love in this town, I’d have left (and maybe come back) ages ago!

So, if you read Day 5, I was having dinner with my ex, DJ tonight. And normally I’d wait till Day 6 to update, but I’m obsessed with this blog. So here goes. We have dinner, great. I cry a little as I tell him his part in this big, life-changing situation, great. He’s like, Jenny, I’m always here for you, we will see each other again, don’t worry.

Worry? I’m not worried, hell; I’m not even looking forward to it. I’m just emotional. I have 200 things going on at once. My mind is running at a 10, all day, everyday. This is a pit stop on the way to Freedomville. And, for the record, I don’t WANT to see you  again.

Reminder: This person used me as a human comfort-zone for years. Bad marriage? Call Jenny. Bad divorce? Call Jenny. Bad case of blue balls? Call Jenny. Seriously, if the boy who cried wolf didn’t exist, he would now!

Anyways, after many wines and whiskey’s, a call from his boss, a call from his girlfriend and a bad attempt to get me into bed, I’m home. I’m not gonna say it’s not hard, because it is. It’s so hard that it’s taken me 5 years to walk away from it (the draw of the relationship, not his cock). When you invest your time and love into someone’s life, when you see them win and lose, when you imagine your future in their arms, no matter the hurt and pain, leaving is a fucking task. It’s a chore and a necessary roughness to calmer days.

On my way out, he gave me a glass pipe. Neither of us smokes much, but this black book bag he keeps his “stash“ in has some sentimental value to us, but more to him personally. He said I’ve given away 2 pipes. And I want you to pick a third. I did. A little one-hitter he didn’t have to smash during a college road trip where he got pulled over and searched.

It sounds stupid and I don’t care about the glass piece. I care about what it means. I care about the last-ditch effort. I care that I’m in line with those 2 other important, influential people in DJ’s life. That matters—not the actual article.

I didn’t walk out on DJ with my head held high. I cried. I cried for him, I cried for me, I cried for something that we both knew was over. He said I love you, I didn’t say it back. I love me, the woman I’ve become since him. I don’t need him anymore. The 6’6” crutch with the fancy finance job and the intoxicating kisses are all behind me. They have been. I just didn’t know it until I decided to take this journey, and when I severed the city, I severed something I only wanted because I couldn’t have it.

 

Day 5 – Cutting the Cord

Sometimes you gotta be George Clooney and un-tether
Sometimes you gotta be George Clooney and un-tether

First of all, I need to thank my friends and family for reading, supporting and giving me feedback on this severance project. I’m grateful and inspired to continue. Secondly, this blog is meant to be personal. I undoubtedly will throw myself under the bus a time or two, but I am prepared for that.

The amount in which people share online these days is monumental. I’ve seen pictures of babies I will never meet, bare-bellied pregnancy shots I can never un-see, and even though I didn’t go to your wedding/honeymoon, I was totally there. Allowing people, even strangers into your life is your decision and allowing my life to be open in this blog is mine. This is my house. If you don’t like my house, you can leave.

Onto the not scolding part of the story…

Today was super chill. I woke up at 10:30, watched The People’s Court and ate ramen noodles. Unemployment and college are basically the same thing. Anyway, it was nice to relax, especially on a rainy January day. I did get a couple of things done. I made an Excel sheet of all the stuff I want to get rid of, reached out to a buddy in Australia and literally Googled, “How do you move to a foreign country?” Google is amazing and knows all. I even started an Excel sheet on moving. Apparently, I love Excel.

In about an hour I have a phone interview with an agency in Austin, Texas. I’m really looking forward to this. I even showered and put on grown-up people clothes. I feel like when you interview, you really gotta go for it, even over different time zones. We will see what happens.

I am a bit nervous though. About another meeting later tonight. I’m having dinner with an ex. Not just any ex, he’s like THE ex. You know the one who really long-term fucks you up, and makes you second-guess every romantic decision you’ll ever make? Yes, that’s the one. Not to give him too much credit, but I’ll explain a bit.

Remember in “Day 1” when I said it was 2008, and I moved to the UWS? Well during that time I met a man, let’s call him “DJ.” I fell madly in love with DJ and together we traveled all over, celebrated holidays and birthdays, and he had so much sex, just not with me (I was unaware of most of it). In 2010, we decided to move in together. He decided to have a baby—with an illegal Brazilian immigrant (the green card theme in my life is really getting old).

Well, we didn’t get that apartment. Broke, alone, and emotionally destroyed, I ended up in Astoria with Rocks. But that is another story… Fast forward and somehow DJ and I have remained “friends.” He’s even lived in my apartment when I lived with N while he separated and filed for divorce from, let’s call her “home wrecker.” Yes, he married her (yea, dude, I fuckin’ know, right?!)

I didn’t have the ability to let him go I guess. Watching their life fall apart somehow validated the hurt and pain I experienced—that they made me feel. And part of this journey, The Severance Project, is letting go of the things that have kept me down and have not let me move on. I’m not ashamed of my relationship with DJ. But I am healed and I am over what happened and leaving NYC means leaving all the bad feelings and all the bad decisions behind. When I see him tonight, my goal isn’t to hurt him or have a superiority moment, although, the truth is, this freedom is something a man with an ex-wife and a 2-year-old just can’t have.

My goal is to have a nice meal with a man I have known, through thick and thin for most my time on this island. It’s to say goodbye, send well wishes and move on from someone I have kept myself tethered to for far too long. Emotional baggage is the heaviest kind, and although it’s not listed on my Excel sheet, I can’t wait to get rid of it.

Day 4 – Humble Pie

The universe serves up a cold slice
The universe serves up a cold slice

For an unemployed person, I’m awfully busy. Today didn’t feel any differently than a regular working day. I woke up at 8, crushed a cup of coffee and ran out the door—10 minutes late. Except today, I didn’t get on a bus or a subway; I got into my [mom’s] car and drove to south Jersey for an interview.

This was a bit of a two-for because not only am I very excited about this agency’s work, I also happen to have an old colleague at the agency and we were going to lunch. I was looking forward to hearing about the work he had been doing. It was a win-win situation. Oh, and I was also headed to the blueberry capital of the world. HELLO MUFFINS!

The agency was awesome. Energy emitted from every corner. From the friendliness of the staff, to the art, cardboard cutouts of celebrities and work-in-progress taped to the walls. That’s the thing about agencies. Walking into their world is like walking through a diary of secrets. The interview went well and I was asked back. I left feeling psyched. Could a company actually care about the creative work and not just be a set of yes-men to clients? I feel like I found the unicorn of advertising agencies.

On my way home, I called my sister (with a hands-free phone thingy of course) and went into detail about the day. I filled her in on my latest plans and the line-up of meetings and interviews I was preparing for. I’ll admit it, I gushed. I even told her about my Irish ex’s phone call the night before.

Let’s call him ‘N.’ N and I have had an on-again-off-again relationship/friendship for 2.5 years. I fell in love with him the moment I saw him in October 2011. On our third date I told my parents I was going to marry him. On our forth date, he told me he was married. Fucking green cards. And so it goes. We’ve been through a lot and he, more than most will be missed when I leave NYC.

So he called last night telling me he saw a picture on Facebook and thought I had left already. I won’t lie—I felt a bit of happiness knowing he’d jump like that (it’s the small things). We left the conversation with an Irish accented “love you” and hung up. “Can you believe it?!” I gushed to my sister asking, “What does he expect?”

An hour later, I’m beaming from my great day. The great fortune I was having. Maybe I’d even call N when I got back to the city. And that’s when it happened. The universe served me a giant piece of perhaps blueberry humble pie. I’m waiting for a bus back home, I go to use a restroom in a busy, happy hour full bar, and slip on my high-heel boots. The loudest, most ungraceful fall ever. My laptop bag is open and make-up, a brush and my laptop slide across the floor. My scarf gets tangled in my purse. I make a loud, weird choking noise. At least 7 people helped me up. I decided to pretend like my knee didn’t hurt, I saddled up to the bar, sucked down a beer, and accepted my pie like a champ. Maybe tomorrow I’ll just shut up and live my life without the gush.

Day 3 – Ain’t Got Time For That

Why not, amiright?!
Why not, amiright?!

Deadlines are hard stops. And when that deadline means you won’t have a place to live, it’s non-negotiable. That’s why bringing bullshit across my proverbial desk will automatically put you on my shit list. What do I mean by this?

I went back to the city last night to go to a party with some friends. I’m treating every moment with these important people like it’s my last (it may be for some). I made some late night plans with a certain person of certain questionable intentions and found myself stood up. After hours of texts saying, I’m on my way, I finally called it a night and went home alone. This morning I sent a text asking this male friend to kindly delete my number and stop wasting my precious time. An hour later he says, “I’m so sorry! I was coming and ended up in Brooklyn on a friend’s couch.” Now, I’m no Mensa candidate, but I’m pretty sure when you tell a taxi driver to take you to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, they don’t say, NOPE, I think I’ll drop you in Brooklyn instead.”

I’ll never talk to him again. And a fool I am to even consider ditching my wonderful, supportive friends for that (although sweet) piece. Lesson learned. I have 18 days left before my lease ends, and I will be wiser going forward.

In better life-changing news, I continue my 7-year long affair with my own version of Mr. Big. An older man with whom I have developed a professional and platonic relationship (I swear), who always makes me smile and laugh and helped me end my weekend on a very high note. It also doesn’t hurt that mounds and mounds of chocolate cake were involved.

So, as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler close out the Golden Globes, and I get ready for an exciting Monday full of new opportunities, I’m grateful for the time I have made for the special people in my life. And closed the door on the not so special, cuz ain’t nobody got time for that.

 

Day 2 – Warm and Wet

Who says we need to grow up?
Who says we need to grow up?

I just dropped my iPhone 5 into a massive river of running water streaming alongside York Avenue. Great. So, after a week of dealing with the polar vortex and snow and 4 degree temps, it’s now melting with this 58-degree high and non-stop rain. That’s the thing about running errands in New York City. Your hands are full, it’s raining, you’re on the phone making plans, and then BOOM! Guess this would be a good time to be happy I haven’t sold my iPhone 4s.

Day 2 of unemployment has not been as fun as day 1.  Mostly because at my age, partying till 4am affects me for at least the next 15 hours. I’m exhausted and my body hurts from sleeping on a friend’s couch. Yes, I still do that. It was worth it though. I was home in New Jersey, and it was a dear friend’s 30th birthday. I have known this guy for 21 years. Holy shit. The fact that I have been friends with him, and others, for over 2 decades blows my mind.

The fact that I have friends who own suburban houses, have kids, are married, are engaged, are divorced, etc. It all blows my mind. That’s the thing about this 13-mile long island; you sort of forget what the realities of the world are. 30-year-old’s embrace Peter Pan Syndrome and avoid growing up, committing and settling down.* Yet, another reason I am ready to embark on this adventure into the unknown.

I’m glad I went to NJ. It may have been my last chance to say goodbye to some friends before I head cross-country—or maybe even across the world. I spent a good amount of time fantasizing about freelancing in Australia yesterday. I guess I have some research to do…

*I too suffer from Peter Pan Syndrome. My longest relationship without cheating, lying or “a break” is probably 6 months long and I constantly reverberate the saying, Do not grow up, it is a trap.