You lost your job. Now what?

At 24 years old, you don’t expect to lose your job, before you can leave it. No one ever wants to lose their source of income, but it happens. You could have been laid off because of a shortage of work, poor performance in the workplace, or maybe you somehow managed to be terminated for violating a workplace rule. It doesn’t matter how it happened – no one enjoys losing their job!

Rule #1: Before you leave that termination/lay off meeting, find out exactly how the items inside your desk are getting to you if they have already told you that you cannot touch them. Feel free to give the Department of Labor a call and ask some general questions if you’re not sure about something.

Monday will be seven days since finding myself unemployed. Up until this point, I never took heed to the “have six months of back up money in the bank”. My budget has been so tight since moving to New Haven that I have almost no money in my account and I feel so incredibly foolish. As soon as you lose your job, there are a few things you need to take care of:

  1. Look up the unemployment rules for the state you live/work in. I worked in New York, but I live in Connecticut. The current rule is to file where you were employed. You will need to make sure to have all of your personal information and your W2 so you can apply for unemployment payments. The first week of unemployment is always an unpaid waiting week so be sure that all of your finances for the week are settled and that you have enough to cover any bills due.
  2. Take a day to organize your update and polish your resume(s), make lists of your career interests, research companies you may want to apply to, and update your LinkedIn information. I would also recommend talking to your contacts and rounding up your references, just in case an application requires them.
  3. Don’t waste time before applying to positions. I usually apply in batches based on location and job type. I am currently looking for roles all over Connecticut and in Manhattan.

I actually feel like the biggest question has been, “What Do YOU Want to Do?” I really am not sure which career path I want to follow next. I am going to school for publishing, but I also have interest in events planning, interior design, fashion, public relations, and the list could go on for days. Right now, I am making lists and organizing the files of my computer and researching each possible path for my new life.

Another important thing to do during this time is to build a new routine. Create a new daily schedule that you will stick to because this will really help you remain focused and determined. They say that it takes 21 days to really adopt a new habit, but day 1 is the hardest day if it never comes. I made sure to start this week off right. I woke up at 8AM and whipped out my Yoga mat.

My new routine is going to be hitting the gym every weekday morning. I have wanted to be one of those morning gym people forever and so I am finally going to be one of them! On the weekends, my mornings start with Yoga, right here in my apartment. On the weekdays, after the gym, I will apply for jobs until about noon and then work on my novel for a bit.

Finally, use this time to really lean on your family, your friends, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your fling, whoever you have in your life that makes you smile or makes you feel good and can help support you – lean on that person or group of people. This has probably been a major setback in your life plan and it’s really important to know that you have a network of people standing tall behind you. No one likes falling down and getting dirty, but someone will help you stand back up and will wipe the dirt off your back so you can keep moving.

Life as a (Cat) Mom

I became a “mom” this past August…and then again, in November.

Just because my children are furry, four-legged, and have claws it doesn’t make me any less of a mother. I keep a roof over their heads and food in their bowls, even when I don’t have a whole lot of food for myself. I make do, for my kids.

Cooper, the Maine Coon, is really more like a dog child. He goes through his mood swings, leaves his toys all over the place, runs from the kitchen to the living room to wag his tail at the window, and then cries when he doesn’t get his way. 2 AM seems to be the hardest time for him because this is usually when he will cry at the bedroom door and meow in my face until I get up and let him out.

Brooke, she is my independent child. She sits quietly in the living room watching out the window or sleeping under the couch (this is her favorite spot). She is much less playful than Cooper, but I love her just the same. She knows when it is time to eat and she will race me into the kitchen for her food and then she will hustle back to where she knows the food bowl will go. She understands, that as the younger sibling, Cooper gets fed first…otherwise, he will eat her food rather than his own. While I do believe that he is happier with another cat in the house, I do believe that he is trying to hard to show his dominance in the house.

There are days when being their mother is really hard. Sometimes, you just want 10 minutes to sit down and that’s when the hissing and the rumbling start in the living room. Cooper is the instigator and Brooke is a little too sensitive so hissing is an hourly occurrence around here. Cleaning the litter box, some days, can be very much like what imagine cleaning a diaper will be like – disgusting beyond belief. Cleaning up something else’s poop will never be a glamorous activity and it will never smell like a rainforest. It will always make you want to gag and off yourself.

Last week, Cooper and Brooke were not getting along at all. She scared him so terribly that he pissed himself and then took a nice little poop in the corner of my bedroom. The first issue was quarantining the now pee filled cat. Second, I needed to clean up the cat pee before it set on my hardwood floors and really stunk the place up. It wasn’t as bad as people made it seem. Ten Lysol wipes later and the pee smell was gone as well as the pee itself. My third issue was how in the world do I bathe this cat? I didn’t have a bathtub, rather a shower stall. So, I did what I had to. I turned the water on to a lukewarm temperature and I let the water run all over him. While he was not pleased, I knew from this cat expert on Youtube that Maine Coon’s can actually be washed, but you just have to make sure his fur does not become matted. So I rinsed him off and then wiped his fur down with these pet-safe wipes that I had gotten at the store. This way he at least won’t smell like cat pee.

He was not happy though and Cooper came out of that shower looking like a drowned rat. I felt like a terrible mom. For thirty minutes I sat there with a wet cat and a towel drying to soak up as much water as I could so that his fur could air dry the rest of the way as he ran around. Brooke sat silently in the kitchen with her head peeking around the bathroom door, looking all innocent. Secretly, I think she was laughing at the way Cooper looked, but that’s just me because cats don’t laugh.

After I cleaned the cat, I then went back, picked up that pile of poop and used my Lysol wipes there as well just to be extra sure my floor would not stink of cat poo for all of eternity. That night, I was the bad guy in the house because I stuck the cat in the water. That’s one of the hardest things about being Coop’s mom. I spend a lot of time being the bad guy.

“Cooper! Leave Brooke alone!”

“Cooper, get off the kitchen table!”

“Cooper! Cooper, what have I told you about eating my shoes!”

He will always look up at me, give the cat sound that equates a sigh or a “but mom!” and he will continue on his way to his next adventure. Brooke will always be my silent child, who meows when the time is right, comes running for food, and will poke her head in the door if she hears a loud noise. Hopefully, as she takes her sweet time to adjust to life here, she will really learn to open up and become half as playful as Cooper is.

For now, I continue to mother these two cats and love them as much as possible no matter how hard or smelly that might be some days.

Living with Cooper

I moved into my apartment all on my own, and I NEVER planned on having a roommate. Then, I met Cooper – the domestic, long-haired cat in my life, and within 24 hours there was a little man living here.

He is only a year old, but it is like having a young child as well as another twenty-something around. When Cooper is sick, I sit up with him and make sure that he stays hydrated and that he isn’t cold. I take him to the vet, I feed him, brush his hair, and I provide him with all of the toys he could ever need or want. Actually, this reminds me that two of his toys are busted and that I should replace them soon.

IMG_2245When I can’t sleep, he hangs out with me until I pass out. If I have home-work to finish, then he hangs out until I finish.  When I am upset about something, he is there to listen. While I know he will never be able to respond or give his opinion on anything, it’s just nice to have someone else in the room to hear my rant.

He and I fell into a nice rhythm from the first day he arrived here. I work in Manhattan so our day starts very, very early every morning. I wake up at 4am to Cooper’s very warm body snuggled next to my back, and then I fill his food and water. I’ll take a shower, but I will leave the door open because he likes to climb up and sit on the low shelf in the wall where the towels are stored. By 4:30, I am showered, dressed, and packing my bag for the train ride to the office. I make sure that all of Cooper’s toys are in the center of the living room and that the blinds are pulled up half way so that he can look out the window while he is home. Sometimes, I will actually catch him sitting on the windowsill when I walk back from the bus stop.

It can also be very stressful having a pet. When you go away, you need to make sure he has enough food and water and there is nothing laying around that he can get into. Some nights, I just want some alone time, but he just cries at my bedroom door, if it is closed, until I invite him in. Some days I just want to be by myself, which was the perk of having my own place. He is such a good boy though so having him around even when I want some privacy is okay by me.

Making Moves

Please forgive me for vanishing. A lot has happened. So much has changed that I am honestly not sure where I should begin. I think I will start with the best parts.

I moved – to Connecticut. I now live and breathe in New Haven, am employed in Manhattan and I am riding the Metro-North to and from New York every day. Some say I am crazy, but I say I am passionate about living my best life! It’s not that I was unhappy while living at home. I think I just felt incomplete in a way. We live life in a series of chapters and the West Hempstead chapter is over for now. I have turned the page and we begin refreshed and ready for the adventures that are to come. My family is still on Long Island so I will absolutely be back. This is the perfect combination; it is the best of both worlds. I can live in the city I love, while working in another and I have easy access to my family whenever I want.

The move itself was tiring and sweaty. I spent two days cleaning, re-shelving, and un-boxing and to be honest, I am ready for a long nap. I will share photos soon – I promise! Right now, I am just enjoying having my own space. Once the cooler weather comes, my furry friend, Chestnut, will be joining me in my apartment. Right now, it is simply too hot in the apartment for my hamster but I am sad that I had to leave her at the house. I have been here for two months just about and I still have yet to empty out one final box and to place all of my decorative items someplace. When I have a little extra money (not likely to happen), I want to buy another shelving unit with a glass door.

Not only have I changed my address, but I have also launched myself head first into a healthier lifestyle. I became a member of Jenny Craig and signed up under their $20 to lose 20 lbs plan! This is a really big step for me because lately my eating habits have been deplorable: chicken nuggets, cake, ice cream, tacos, halal food, etc. The list of unhealthy food choices could go on, but really I just want to feel healthier when I wake up in the morning. If cake were a diet supplement, I would be a pro at remembering to take one everyday. Unfortunately, that is not how life works so I must stop inhaling dessert. I have actually lost about 4 inches overall, even though I kind of yo-yo’ed while on the plan. I will just have to keep pushing myself to do better.

I work a desk job. From 8:30 AM to 6 PM, I am in my seat, with the occasional jaunt to the Bevi or into the kitchen…to grab snacks. Mainly, I am sitting and eating and sitting and eating and it just needs to stop. My goal is to lose over 100 pounds, BUT since that happens with baby steps, we will start with a smooth 20. It will  not be easy, but I think the challenge of changing your life is all part of the fun.

As if I had not already changed enough about my already stressful lifestyle, I decided to become a cat mom which means I am now solely responsible for the well-being of what is essentially my child. Every morning, I make sure he has food and water, I brush his hair, and I make sure that he has all the toys he will need to entertain himself while I am gone for the day. Cooper, is a one year old, Domestic Long-haired cat and it just so happens that I ended up adopting him on his first birthday!

He is an endless vat of energy — constantly pouncing inanimate objects, chasing his own tail and running from one end of the apartment to the other. Of course, he spends a good part of the day trying to break out of his collar — with a 99% success rate, but as his mother, he needs to learn who is boss. For me, the hardest part is cleaning the poop out of the litter box. I must apologize to my mother because, while Cooper’s shit is gross, I cannot even imagine the stench of baby poop and actually having to wipe a baby’s butt.

My first day heading back to my office after I adopted him was definitely tough. I think I had and probably still have a little bit of separation anxiety. At the same time, it was nice to be out of my apartment. I wake up to a cat stretched out behind my back almost every morning. The first morning, I just felt a warm body next to me and my brain told me it was my boyfriend. I turned to my other side and sure enough it was just Cooper. Those are the mornings that I wish I lived with my boyfriend, but I love having my own space so I am glad he is not living there. I love when he visits me though! He comes to visit me just about every other weekend and he is so good with Cooper. Actually, I think the cat loves him more than he loves me — maybe I am just jealous?

While we are on the subject of my boyfriend, I think I owe to it myself to dissect how I feel our season 3 renewal is going. We are still building up to an epic midseason finale, but so far, so good. He is much more open and communicative; he actually has made the effort to come to my apartment and see me. My only hesitation is trusting that he can keep this going if I ended up moving out of New Haven again. He did not do well at all the first tine around. I love how committed he seems now, but I could not stand it if I left again and he completely forgets how to be a boyfriend. My biggest fear is that this happiness is only temporary because I am really happy with him right now.

Our relationship is in this phase of getting to know one another again and I think that there is still a lot that he and I will discuss and need to discuss. Right now, I am just enjoying spending time with my favorite guy again. We will see where this road takes the three of us – me, Zack, and the cat.

 

Walking with my head toward the sky

When you walk through the streets of Manhattan, do you ever notice the people around you? Do we ever take the time to lift our heads and our noses up from our phones and just really see the people or the buildings?

I will admit that on days when I am stressed out or feeling insecure, I will walk with my eyes glued to the screen of my phone, but I do my best to keep foot traffic flowing and avoid bumping into strangers. No one is perfect.

During my brief walk from Bryant Park on 42nd to the Fred E. French Building on 45th, I noticed that everyone walking next to or in front of me was staring down at the screen of their cell phone or behind the viewfinder of a camera. A young girl was moving at such a pace that she tripped into a woman because she never looked up – not once. She never thought to take her eyes off the screen and stop texting to check to see if someone was in front of her.

Texting while walking really grinds my gears. I cannot stand being stuck behind someone who is moving at a snails pace because she has her nose in her phone. In this digital age, it is so important that you look up and take in the sights once in a while. Not only is it rude, but it is actually dangerous! The New York Times, the Washington Post, Fortune Magazine, USA Today... the list goes on. These major journalistic outlets have studied this exact topic and have shown just how dangerous this nasty habit is. Take a look at this video:

NYT Texting & Walking

In Gait & Posture, Eric Lambert found that texting while walking produces navigational errors and that gait velocity is reduced when using a cell phone to text or talk. (2012) When you are looking down, you are limiting what can be seen around your person. You develop multiple blind spots, whereas there would only be one if you walked with your head up and watching for danger. Basically, walking and texting is like you are wearing a blindfold and you are prone to serious injuries. According to the NSC (National Safety Council), between 2000 and 2011, walking while using your cell phone accounted for 11,100 injuries.

There is also the courtesy factor.

It is completely inconsiderate of texters to come to a complete stop in the middle of a busy NYC sidewalk, staircase, or entry-way. Blocking foot traffic in Manhattan is a dangerous all by itself, but then you factor in that people are not even noticing that bodies are moving towards them!

What’s the considerate or proper technique you may ask. Well, you should really pull over to the side of the sidewalk, complete your text, Google searches or whatever you need to look down and view and then proceed down the street. Practicing pedestrian etiquette will allow for others to continue walking without obstruction and will lower pedestrian accident rates.

“Petextrian” accidents have risen to more than 3.5 percent, according to a report by the GHSA (Governors Highway Safety Association). Teenagers make up more than 40% of these accidents because they cross streets while texting and cannot detect the oncoming dangers while being distracted by mobile devices. Of course, driving while distracted or impaired will ALWAYS be the number one cause for accidents, texting while walking is a menace to pedestrians just trying to make it to the end of the next block.

Please, next time you are out, do me a favor – pick your head up and notice the world around you. Notice the world outside of the cell phone!

“The Road So Far…”

Here we are. December is finally here and everywhere I go I see Christmas. Honestly, I work so much that sometimes I cannot believe that Christmas will be here in only 15 days. Typically, this is my favorite holiday because I love hearing the music and seeing the decorations, but this year…I am struggling to keep moving. I have many decisions to make before the end of 2016 and I am having the hardest time balancing all of my responsibilities.

Every night, I come home from work – dead tired and defeated. I have not worked on my novel for four months, but luckily I was able to get the week after Christmas off from work. I anticipate many long nights of writing and re-writing.

Since my break-up with Zack, I have not been doing so well. I put on a brave face and I smile and laugh my way through the work day, but what I really  want to do is just curl into a ball and cry. I have been struggling to move on from him and from the memory of our relationship, but it is hard. Letting go of someone is really hard. I wake up every morning with this hole in my chest and sometimes I feel like I cannot take a deep breath. People keep telling me to just move and forget him. “He was a loser,” some say. “He was a jerk and doesn’t deserve you anyway!” Well, the truth is I was in love with that loser – that asshole.

Let me tell you something about Zack. He may not have been the best at actually being in a relationship and managing work and making time for his girlfriend, BUT he is one of the best men to ever walk into my life and I will miss him for the rest of my adult life.

He was warm and funny; childish yet filled with wisdom. He was level-headed and impulsive. He was quiet but opinionated. He never told me that there was something I could not do. Most importantly, he never asked me to be someone I am not. He appreciated the woman I was when we were together. He always made sure we had fun and he encouraged me to follow my dreams. I will never find another Zack and to be honest, I do not want to because I will forever measure that man up to the Zack I want to be with.

It sucks that he and I are not together anymore and I feel like I am drowning in an ocean of our memories, but I guess there is nothing that can be done about this now. It just sucks that now that I can move back to New Haven, we are no longer together. If only I had been able to move back there last year. We might have gotten our Valentine’s Day dinner.

The Five Stages

About three months ago, I made the decision to end my relationship.

It wasn’t healthy. No one was happy. And…let’s face it – it just was not working.

I spent a year and a half trying to find some way to make it work and I did all I could, but he did not want to put in the work.

He did not want to spend hours traveling to me. He did not want to take five minutes at night to call me. He did not want to use his breaks at work to text me “good morning” or ask my how my day is.  He did not want to make me a part of his world.

It’s never easy, deciding to break up with someone. Every day I feel this hole, this unfillable void, in my life and I miss him.

I wake up and I miss him. I ride the train and I think about him. I walk to my office and my mind is flooded with memories of walking places with him. There is not a day I don’t hope and pray that he would just text me and want to work it all out – but he doesn’t.

He may not know this, but he saved my life. He helped me find myself and question the path I was on. He encouraged me to try new things; he always told me I could do anything I wanted.

Without him, I would probably still be working on my Senior Seminar British Literature term paper.

Thank you, Zack…thank you for keeping me awake that night, even though I kept taking mini naps and you would have to keep calling me. Thank you for making sure that at 3:45 AM, I woke up from my nap and finished page 6. Thank you for acting as my silent support system as I finished my final exam paper for my Literary Criticism class. You were watching the Kurt Cobain documentary, but having you next to me kept me focused because I knew that as long as you were there that I would get the paper done. Thank you for coming to my awards ceremony when we had only been dating one week.

Humbati…you oaf. xo