Shakes on a Plane

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It has been an interesting journey since I left New York January 31. I’ve said goodbye to friends and lovers, sold off sentimental and material possessions, donated countless bags of clothes/purses/shoes and moved home to New Jersey. While the process has been both cleansing and rewarding, it hasn’t been without nerves.

I always feel nervousness and anxiety in my belly, and today, 38,000 feet in the air, I sort of want to throw up. As I look at Virgin America’s seat back map I can’t help but feel excited and anxious at the same time. My mom drove me to the airport (third time in 1 week, she’s a good mom), and when I said goodbye, mentally I knew I wasn’t coming back for a while and got a tad teary, but it wasn’t real yet. I don’t feel like I’m actually making the move.

Maybe it’s because there are other nervous factors working against me at the moment. For one thing, I’m not flying to Austin quite yet. I’m on my way to Los Angeles. Early February, I booked a one-way flight to see an old college friend of mine, let’s call him Thespian. We had a brief PG-13 romantic affair when I was about 20, and then he moved to L.A. to pursue acting. We’ve kept in contact throughout the years, loosely planning trips across the U.S., but with relationships, finances, etc., it just never worked out. Until now.

Unemployment helps open doors (doesn’t that seem backward?). And I’m not sure this door should be open. It just happened. While I was figuring out possible “next steps” my older brother offered me the opportunity to go to San Diego to live with him, his wife and my niece, look for work, chill out. So, naturally when I told Thespian he was like, cool, swing by and I’ll show you the sights before you head south. Before I knew it, plane ticket booked, TripAdvisor loaded.

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So, for a couple of weeks we have been planning and scheduling and I was super duper excited, regardless of the outcome, until I met this guy John at the airport. And yes, I seriously always meet people at the airport and I have a theory about it. Strangers don’t care what you think about them, they just like someone to talk to before they fly off never to be seen again. So, there’s John, on his third bloody Mary, second Jack and coke, and he says, I’m fucking my boss’s daughter and she’s married.*

Not one to judge, I just said, sounds like she’s the one that can’t say anything and you’re in the clear. He laughed and agreed and asked me where I was jetting. I told him my little situation and now I want to throw up. Not because there’s anything wrong with Thespian, I’m still excited to see my old friend. But more so that telling this complete stranger that I left my home, will eventually move to Austin, had no apartment, no start date, no where to live for a while and I was staying with a man I hadn’t seen in over 10 years…hearing the words leave my mouth—did that ever happen to you? You just hear it leave your mouth? I just had to laugh and I heard my sister’s words in my head, only you, Bean.

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I’m 535 miles away from LAX. I’m looking out the window at the mountains somewhere over Utah. My palms are sweating and while I’m not regretting ANY of the decisions I’ve made, I’m just realizing this journey didn’t end with an offer. It’s really only taking off.

 

*I don’t condone this, I’m glad it’s not my life.

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A One-way Ticket to Paradise

As soon as my time runs out to cancel this flight without consequence, Austin will call.
As soon as my time runs out to cancel this flight without consequence, Austin will call.

The wavering is gone! West coast here I come. For weeks I’ve put my airplane ticket purchase on hold because I’ve been unsure what may arise with the agency in Austin. No, I haven’t heard back other than, we’re still making decisions. It’s been confirmed several times that I am still in the running, and for that I am excited, but I can’t just sit here and wait. I’m not doing myself any good waiting for the long, drawn out interview process to work (or not work) in my favor.

So maybe “the” wavering isn’t gone, but more accurately, mine is. On February 22, aboard a nonstop Virgin America plane, I will land at LAX to start my new west coast life. I’m staying with my talented friend Logan in North Hollywood for about a week. While there, I hope to see many friends I only know these days through Facebook, check out the L.A. scene (it is my first time after all) and even get a small freelance interview. Who knows? Anything is possible with the right outlook and attitude.

Logan's View
Logan’s View

At the end of the month I will head south. San Diego will take the place of my residence for an undetermined amount of time. This is where it gets interesting…

My brother, sister-in-law and almost 3-year-old niece live in San Diego. When we discussed me coming out there in December we set some basic and understandable ground rules that had the overall feel of let’s see what happens. My hope is that everything goes smoothly and respectfully, obviously. But everyone knows that house guests, like fish, go bad after 3 days. I hope this isn’t true. I need more time!

And speaking of time, many things are happening between now and getting on that plane. But I guess you’ll have to tune in to find out.

Bigger picture: After lots of research, I think I ultimately want to end up in Australia. I’ve been doing some investigating on creative writing programs down under and there are some really interesting and inspiring offerings. If you’ve been to the University of Sydney or the University of Western Sydney, I’d love to hear from you. Better yet, if you’ve done a writing program there (or in Australia in general), and have any advice or warnings, let me know. Applications are due around April for postgraduate courses, so I should get started. You never know, I could be blogging half way around the world by July!

But, back to reality. Time for country people things! Shoveling the never-ending falling snow from the driveway and baking brownies.

And this was taken 5 hours ago...
And this was taken 5 hours ago…

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 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 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 1 – Transitional Transcendence

Coffee, pj's, starting my blog
Coffee, pj’s, starting my blog

Ah, the sweet smell of severance. It’s sort of like the smell of success if you’re ready for it. While many do not have the opportunity to prepare for the moment HR calls your desk and asks you to, stop in for a quick chat, I was one of the lucky ones. Perhaps I should start from the beginning…

I’ve been a professional Copywriter since 2007. My first job was in Morristown, New Jersey, and all I wanted to do was get into New York City. The big time. Bright lights, late nights, Mr. Right. Clearly, I was raised on episodes of Sex and the City.

In 2008, I got my big break. I packed up my belongings and got my first job and first apartment in the Upper West Side. I did what most young, broke kids do and found two roommates on Craigslist. We lived in that small, dirty, three-room apartment for two years.

Jump to 2014. Today, January 10, to be exact. I live alone in the Upper East Side, and while it’s relaxing and awesome to have a one-bedroom all to myself, it’s expensive and the building is far from public transportation. Not to mention the lack of HOT water and a loud, old heating system. My living situation is mediocre at best. And until yesterday, I worked in a failing, mediocre ad agency. Overall, at 29-years-old, my life felt mediocre.

So why am I so happy? In December 2013, right before I left for Christmas in San Diego and New Year’s in Maui, I didn’t renew my lease. I put my costly trip on my Citibank Thank You Card, my last months rent in the mail, and took off. I had made the ultimate, life-changing decision to end my affair with New York City.

I have no idea where my life is going to take me. Right now I have 20 days until I need to vacate my apartment. That’s 20 days to paint over the accent walls, sell or box up my belongings, find another place to live and say goodbye to the 250 square feet I have called home for two years.

So, where to next? Here are my current options:

  • Stay in NYC and look for a new job (insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result)
  • Move to Maui and live in my cousin’s spare room, working odd jobs and learning to surf. Not to mention possibly meeting up with the beautiful man I shared a New Year’s Eve kiss with
  • Move to San Diego and live at my brother’s house, looking for full time work, helping my sister-in-law with my cutie-wootie niece and enjoying the spring-like weather
  • Move to Austin, Texas. During a recent trip to Austin, I feel in love with the city. The casual, open community, the laid-back but smart locals, it all just seemed to fit.
  • Lastly, I can move back to New Jersey with my parents a-la The Lifeguard and “find myself.” This is NOT an actual option in their minds. Although the in-ground pool in the summer would make for some fantastic lunch breaks

So, here I go. Into the great wide open, as Tom Petty would say. Follow me on my journey, armed only with my wit, guts and the desire to sever my ties to the city. I am looking for a better way to live, and 29 feels like the perfect age to stop being mediocre, doing mediocre and feeling mediocre, and to start living.

Where do you think I should go?