After that previous post, I bet those who follow this blog certainly want an update! I certainly want one.
The truth of the matter is, not much has changed. For every step of progress, I face two of regression. It doesn’t seem to matter whether that’s in regards to my romantic pursuits, my professional life, or just life in general. And to be honest, not much about whether or not my life as I know it will officially and legally be over until early December, which is the next time my mother and I face off against the landlord of doom, and a judge, in housing court. I don’t know how it is in other states or countries, but where I am in New York, the housing court is essentially an enforcement arm of the landlords. If your landlord is small — say, in charge of a 1-4 family building or so — a tenant may have a fair chance. But if the landlord — either individually or as part of a partnership, corporation, or LLC — is in charge of one massive multi-million dollar apartment complex, if not several, then the courts basically act as a legalized minion. A century ago, if our landlord wanted to repel tenants, he or she would have to dirty their hands by going to seedy areas and hiring actual minions to drag them out physically — perhaps even pay some cops in bags of cash. Nowadays, they merely have to attain an attorney and have the courts (and ultimately, a marshal) do it for them in legal terms. Usually the best a tenant can do is delay the inevitable, which is what’s happened so far.
The good news is after being unemployed for roughly 90 days, I have gotten a new job. It’s a temp job which may last until April or May 2019 at best. However, it is with a very long term and notable firm in my neighborhood which, ironically, has ties to the city job which just fired me. If they are impressed enough by me, a permanent position beyond the spring may be possible. But, I’ve heard all this before; at this point I’ll gladly take a temp gig. The pay is less than what I had before, but without union dues, my actual take home will be comparable. To boot, the commute is a lot shorter — I could actually walk it if I had enough time to walk 2-3 miles in the morning. It’s not much farther than a place where I used to work in 2011 — which, ironically, was the last time I was unemployed. It’s another telephone gig, since that’s where my niche has been for the last 7 years. My degree may have the words “social work” on it, but in many ways that feels like a distant memory, and another life. I was last involved in that industry a decade ago, and only for roughly 8.5 months — at least professionally.
I also ran into a co-worker from the city job I was axed from at this new gig! I was actually surprised to see him, since he was far better at the city job than I was. He went into it with experience, and he didn’t have the absences or latenesses (or as many failed calls) as I had. As crushing as it was for me to be fired roughly 3.5 weeks before I finished my probationary period, my co-worker had been fired a mere 10 days before he would have hit it. He told me that our mutual co-worker and pal, a woman I dubbed “Dinah” since I did have a crush on her, had been axed not long after I had been. It seems like that city agency certainly has a kill quota, and performance doesn’t seem to matter. With a steady stream of fresh employees coming in, in addition to part time college students filling some gaps, they’re under little obligation to keep most new hires longer than they have to. Their agency office literally doesn’t have the space — either in work desks or lockers — to keep everyone they hire. The union gets their dues either way, and they don’t lift a finger to prevent a worker from getting axed before they last 12 months.
In the short term, this new job seems nice. It’s 6 weeks of training before we all hit the phones sometime in January. But, to be frank, most jobs are nice at the start. It’s only a few weeks or months in where the demons come out. I’ll have to miss a day due to housing court, which isn’t good.
And there is where the two steps back comes in. Neither me, my lawyer, my mother, or her guardian ad litem have come to terms with the landlord. He wants to offer a buyout, but it is a pittance and not enough to even last longer than 1-2 years elsewhere. He’s since lowered it since November began, for little reason other than a whim, or to stall us. I’ve spoken to him personally, as he’s tried to pressure me directly. He’s not much older than me, and may even be younger. He is an arrogant, impatient person who has been groomed and handed this position. He is passive aggressive and acts like he has little control over anything, while being shrewdly uncompromising the next. Now, I have dealt with a deadbeat father, a vicious aunt, and bullies many times in my life. But without a doubt this landlord is the person who has done my mother and I the most harm in our lives. From the shoddy conditions of our apartment (black mold, pipes that don’t work, crumbling ceilings, etc.) to the eviction, there is no one I hate more. And this is something different for me. It has been a long time since I had deep and passionate hatred for a single human being. The last time I did, it was 7th grade and I was a child — barely a teenager. Now I am an adult, and the stakes are much higher.
Regardless, it is difficult for me to land jobs, or keep jobs, when I never know if I will be homeless any given month, or have to miss a day every 30-90 days due to housing court. For all I know I could have survived my previous job without the stress of battling this since May. My life feels frozen in slow motion in the midst of a deep fall. I can see the bottom, but I can’t reach it, nor can I reach a handhold or anything to save myself. At this point I don’t even care if I hit bottom anymore, it’s the limbo that is eating at me.
It is during this state of impending doom that I rediscovered something which had been in my room for over 15 years. To back things up, when I was in elementary school, my first “puppy love” crush was in regards to a girl dubbed “Cynthia.” She was the subject of my third ever blog entry, dated July 12th, 2014. My crush on her was an open secret by 2nd grade, and things hit the skids by 4th grade in their usual unrequited and deflating manner — she’d essentially pretended to “like” me on a dare, and felt bad about it. I don’t bring thus up to drag on her; it wasn’t a nice thing to do and it did certainly effect me, but we were all kids. Kids aren’t perfect. Anyway, I rediscovered a Valentine from this era.
It was a cheap Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers Valentine’s card. But not a full card; more like a printed index card which could be had at a price of perhaps 30-something for a few dollars. This would have been around 1991-1992, when the show was in syndication as part of “the Disney Afternoon.” There was nothing written on it, and the message on the front simply had one of the characters — Chip, the one who dressed like Indiana Jones — leaning on a heart which said something akin to “rescue my heart” amid a yellow background. Nothing was written on the back. I remember on Valentine’s Day in the private Catholic school, the kids would hand these cards back and forth to each other. It wasn’t quite obligatory, but it was routine.
For what it was, it was simple, innocent, and commercial. Yet at some point I’d kept it. To date it was the first, and only, Valentine I had ever gotten from someone who wasn’t a relative. I imagine as a child it was very important to me. I’d stumbled upon it before; I had kept it atop a bookcase, near a harmonica I’d never learned how to play properly. But I never had the heart to throw it out, at least not as a pre-teen, or a teenager, or a college grad.
Coming across it now made me wonder about what sort of life I could have had, had I simply…let some things go. Sure, had Cynthia crushed on me for real and I had a first kiss before junior high, that would have been cool. But it may have been better had I not taken some of my defeats with the opposite sex as personally as I had. At the time they seemed like life altering events. Yet now as I face a real life altering event like homelessness, unemployment, and/or the death of my mother (who is in poor health), these sorts of things seem utterly trivial. What if I had the ability to shrug off some of that pain and keep chugging along? Especially by college, which was fertile ground without much of the baggage of my past that junior high and high school had. What if I capitalized on the one or two flickering chances I had, without any fear? What sort of man would I have become, had I been able to do that? Or been able to land a relationship? Would I have been more confident? Enough that I could have gotten better jobs sooner, and escaped this sort of fate? Or at least had better memories of pleasurable and happy times beyond childhood as I face the end of it all?
So many of the feelings and emotions that I felt regarding women and the opposite sex come from events at least a decade old, if not older, by now. The person I was then is hardly the person I am now. I hadn’t suffered as much, gone through as much turmoil. I hadn’t lived through unemployment, taking care of and then losing my grandmother, the added stress of my own mother’s declining health, and stress regarding my hovel of a home. So on the one hand, I have some more maturity and perspective, as well as social skills, that I lacked when I did 90% of my attempts at dating. On the other hand, I have become a more bitter person. My temper, especially over the past year or so, has gotten worse and harder to maintain. I don’t measure it often, but I likely have high blood pressure. I have have realized now that I am in my later 30’s that some people who I thought were “mean” as a kid weren’t that way because they were evil, or born that way, but because a cruel and unpleasant life had made them that way, like a tormented animal. I’m good at hiding it beyond a personable sense of humor and perhaps an inner goodness, but that cynicism is there below the surface. I trust in nothing and no one, and any time I feel I have nothing left to lose…I usually am in risk of losing more. And on the rare times that I gain something, all that gives me is something more to lose. Which I inevitably will.
To stick with the theme of a TV show, I feel that I am facing a finale. The question is I don’t know whether it is the season finale of my life, or the series finale. There’s a notable speech in 2006’s Rocky Balboa, which seems apt:
The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!
It seems like all I have ever done is take the hits. Moving forward is all I know, whether deliberately or because I stagger that way in a punch drunk haze. But after a decade or two of crippling blows, I can feel my vision finally starting to blur. My knees becoming wobbly. The mat ever so close. And the irony is, I don’t even mind it anymore. I am prepared to accept that my life has come to an end. I am prepared to take that final blow and be left on the mat for the count. To finally leave the damn ring and be through with my punishment. I have no more illusions of winning the match, or a round, or even scoring a hit anymore. Any time I do the beating gets worse than it ever was before. I just want to leave the damn ring. I just want it to be over. Whether it means the ref calls it for a technicality or it ends in a TKO, I don’t care anymore. The endless limbo is driving me crazy.
And to think it all started so innocently with postcards of hearts and cartoon anthropomorphic rodents. Not even in some of my nightmares did I imagine this. I battled and went through so much, only for it to end here. Or in a few weeks, technically. Until then, it’s business as usual, a day at a time, a week at a time. Keep it moving, keep hustling as the kids say now.
Until the last hammer blow finally comes. And when it does, it’s about damn time.
Thanksgiving was alright. My mother and I weren’t feeling very thankful, but we had a nice take out dinner. Beyond November, I have no idea what will come, or how much longer this blog will last. Hopefully 2019 brings something better. I certainly would love to focus once again on those girls that didn’t like me or on my virginity. They seem so trivial now. Especially as I near what was my last chance.
Happy Cyber Monday, everyone! And thanks for reading, as always.