Mission Six Miles
who says you can’t go home

On July 1, 2006 as I steered my filled to the brim little Malibu onto the onramp of 95 south in Foxboro, that Jennifer Nettles and BonJovi song came on the radio. Tears pricked the back of my eyes, but I knew I was following my dreams of living in New York City by leaving sleepy Foxboro behind. Seven years, seven months and 23 days later, I’m sort of going back home.

My life started to come undone in 2011. I had taken a job with limited security, long hours while battling two separate major health scares and a chronic disease I only sort of understand. I lost my job two days before my birthday in 2012. It is now March 23, 2014, and I haven’t officially worked full time since then. I’ve been on countless interviews, and had my soul destroyed by two rejections that I had been told were sure things. My savings is gone. I can’t sleep. And returning to Foxboro hasn’t ever been, or will ever be, an option. I got by on a string of part time jobs and freelance gigs, generosity from family and friends, but I have to make my own way. Relying on other people to help me pay my bills is a terrible way to live. So some time in the coming months, pending a miracle, I will be moving back to Massachusetts, to Western Mass., where some of my best memories of life exist. My sister and my future brother in law have opened up their home to me and my two furbabies and have a job waiting tables ready for me. This act of generosity has moved me to tears, repeatedly, with my sister Ginny only responding to me “You know you’d do it for me.” And it’s truth. The blessing of family. I’ll be able to sleep, without constantly living in fear of how I’m going to survive another week. It kills me to leave, but it might actually kill me if I say.

I won’t be doing any sort of organized party because it’s not something I really want to celebrate,  but I do want to see everyone who’s made my life here so incredible, the stuff I only dreamed about when I was waking up in sleepy Foxboro every day. I lived the dream. I worked as a sports editor/writer/videographer. I covered the Jets, Mets and Giants. I learned so much from the incredible colleagues I had; they opened up their experiences to me and took care of me when I was overwhelmed and scared by my surroundings. I marched in the Pride parade. I wrote a national weekly baseball column. I lived more in four years than I ever thought was possible. But circumstances change and it’s time for me to retreat and get some rest and then make a new plan. Will I come back? Maybe. But I can’t think that far ahead right now.  

I’ve been accused a number of times over the last month of neglecting this blog. Which is true, but what I was mostly afraid of was sounding too self absorbed and pissy and without hope. I was all of those things a month ago.

Now? I’m still putting in my time at Target, but I’ve taken on a job with PIX 11 in New York. It’s TV!! And I had all these preconceived notions about TV, and I was wrong. Entirely. I might end up end up here forever, I might not. But I do know, that after 18 months, three weeks and 27 days, I am working a job that is a livable wage for me. And if I go full time? I’m set. The people are colorful, I was just told that it was hoped that I’d die in a murder-suicide car accident (it was funny. you had to be there) and I’ve reunited with some old friends. 

I’m putting makeup on in the morning. I do my hair. I find to the best of my ability clothes that fit me OK. I feel good. I’m happy. I never thought I’d be back here again. Sometime last fall I had pretty much given up. And I was picked up by my whole family, my friends, God, Lindsey, who were just like “get your shit together, pay your rent, and find a job.” Lo and behold that’s exactly what happened. 

Too many things …

Too many things are finally going right and I’m driving myself crazy because I’m sure i’m going to screw it up.

Things were going too well for a couple of weeks there. I thought I was finally afloat after months and months of drowning. Nope. 18 months of this. 18 months of rejection, failure and I don’t even have anywhere to go if it comes to that. I can’t go home, that has been made crystal clear to me. So where am I going to go? Sometimes I feel like I should just listen to the universe and give up. I messed everything up. It’s my fault and there isn’t anything in the world I can do to make it better.

Love, The Felines

Dear Santa,

I hope the North Pole isn’t too cold. I’m very aware that I’m on your naughty list due to all of the coffee cups I’ve swatted off Mom’s nightstand this year, but I am asking for something that isn’t for me. It’s for Mom.

Mom is having a rough time. She’s been in the house all the time for what seems like forever now. She used to be gone a lot so I could host litter sniffing parties in the bathroom. But she’s been here all the time. I don’t know why, but I do know she’s sad a lot, and pretty much every night she cries while she lays in the bed about not having something called a job. Santa, I’m asking you to bring my mom a job so she can stop being sad (and also so she can buy me the food that I like best). My sister is helping with this letter, too, and she promises she will stop scratching the shit out of the door jams if you just make our Mom happy again. Also, I’m sick of licking tears. They taste terrible. 

So please, take care of my Mom. She’s far more fun when she’s happy and this is something she’s been asking for for a long time. I love her so much and I hate that she’s sad and that taking a dump on the clean towels didn’t make her feel better. Please, Santa. Please bring our Mom a job.

xoxoxox

Lucille and Maebe

The Holiday Spirit … or Not

I haven’t written here much but anyone who would read this know things have been better for me. I ran out of unemployment, I got a holiday retail job that if nothing else is fun for the stories. But I haven’t been feeling the holidays this year. I didn’t really at Thanksgiving and not much had changed. Until I started looking at it differently.

Today a close friend called me and asked for my bank account information. I almost objected because she’d done so much for me already that I felt guilty accepting anymore help, but when she told me what, I started crying. Her boyfriend had given her some money to give to me because she talks about me to him a lot, that she’s constantly worried about me, to the point where he worried as well and decided to do something. I’ve never even met this man. Within an hour after, five boxes arrived for me from Amazon. All food, healthy, and gluten free, and more importantly, food and litter for my little babies. I won’t need crackers, granola bars, cereal, mac and cheese, diet soda or cat products for at least a month. I have a former boss that I call a second mom who is making sure I eat my vegetables. I have another friend who regularly sends me job postings. An envelope with money for my prescriptions arrived from my sister. On top of all this all of these people, plus others, are rooting for me to push myself over this. It’s been like spinning wheels in quicksand. And until I started thinking about this, it has made me quite bah humbug on the season. Why should I be happy? Are you kidding me? Why shouldn’t I be happy, even more so then when everything is going swimmingly. Because I have so many people picking me up when I’m down. I have long lost friends that I haven’t formally spoken to in 15 years sending me notes, encouraging me that this will pass and not to give up. Everyone believes in me except me and I’m hoping I get there. I will. It will. When everything I hear is the opposite of what I feel, it’s time to reevaluate how I’m thinking. Maybe everyone else is right. 

A little bright light

I’m not going to bore you with the details of how my spectacularly derailed life has gone over the last 18 months, because it mostly doesn’t matter. I’m currently sitting on pins and needles waiting to find out if I passed a writing test I took 10 days ago, just that this one could be it, and because I’m a little crazy, I spend six hours a day scrutinizing what was wrong. 

Well, for the last week or so, it’s been down to something around 2 hours. Except today. Back to 6. 

Every year, I go to spring training. The Florida warmth thaws my soul, and i get to check out what my precious Red Sox are going to put on the field in April. Much was said about they’ll be better than the abortion Bobby Valentine era (though how could it not be) but it’s unlikely they’ll be a contender. I showed up in Clearwater early on a Sunday morning to watch batting practice before a game against the Phillies. Shane Victorino was smacking them out, as was Dustin Pedroia, but who cares it’s spring training

Cliff Lee took the hill for the Phillies and that was pretty much it. Over the next 3 innings, the Red Sox took the future hall of famer behind the shed and repeatedly stole his milk money. I pulled out my phone and texted my Dad “Yo, I don’t think they’re going to be as bad as everyone thought.” My father responded “I know. I told you that a week ago.” That’s my Dad, the best Dad, and the Dad who took me to Fenway for the first time when I was 10 months old. I caught a Yankee game down there, nothing particularly interesting there, drove through central Florida to see a dear friend din West Palm, then flew home hoping father and daughter were right. 

The games have always been a distraction. I have a gang of displaced Red Sox fans on Twitter that have made this season so much fun, win or lose. It almost made staying home with my laptop and the games on TV far more enjoyable than going to my Beloved Boston Bar in the West Village. 

This run through the playoffs was a ray of light for me. I’m busting my ass every day to do a mind-numbing freelance project, in between surfing the want ads and an occasional interview. But I knew, at night, my funny friends would be on my laptop and the Sox would be on my TV. And that’s what happened last night when the ultimate release for everyone took place, and we all celebrated together. 

I’m hoping my new ray of light is a job, or at least a freelance job  that doesn’t make me want to kill myself. But all I know is I slept for 10 hours last night. That hasn’t happened since I had the flu. So thanks to my friends, and I can’t wait, good or bad,  to do it again next year.

I’m not a “cat lady”

I take a lot of crap from certain acquaintances over my fixation with cats. I grew up with cats; I had a dog, too but just always bonded better with the felines. My family was known to have four cats at a time, a dog, several fish and god knows what else. It was a thing. As much as my Dad will poo poo his feelings towards our animals, I saw his reaction when our beloved Einstein the fat, humping dachshund died (10 years ago today). 

Anyway, I resent the reactions I get; grow up, get out, make real friends, don’t be such a cat lady. They’re just ANIMALS. What? You can get a cheaper apartment but you have to give up your cats? What are you thinking? Give them up! No more cats allowed at home? Get rid of them.

I found Lucille in a pile of garbage. In the basement of my Harlem apartment that wasn’t in a very good neighborhood. She was thin and screaming and clearly not feral. A feral cat wouldn’t come near me. A cat that had been abandoned by some shithead owner for probably one of the above reasons would be dying to find someone else to take care of her. She wasn’t cut out for life dodging cabs and eating out of piles of trash, and she would have most likely died if my heart hadn’t broke for her back in 2008. The very first night she crapped on my bed. It’s been love since. I held her during her terrible bladder troubles; I desperately sought food that wouldn’t leave her in pain. In turn, she’s my protector, hissing at strangers and most men. Sitting in front of the door screaming when I got home from the hospital both times. Never leaving my side while I went through my recovery. Grooming my hair and cleaning up tears when I was hurting, she was there. Now, please, is that something you just ditch just because times get difficult? I held Maebe days after she was born. She always wants to play, and on days when I can’t bring myself to roll over, she shows up with her favorite fish toy in her mouth and demands we play fetch. 

Now, if you’re one to abandon responsibility, that’s you. That will never be me. I don’t always go out for a number of reasons, I’m not working full time yet and honestly? I like being home. I don’t need to be out looking at something or eating out or travelling all the time because I love my home, and my cats are very much a part of that. So, if you don’t feel that way because you don’t have pets? Fine. But keep your opinions away from me. 

This ended up in my inbox tonight

Liz.. that whole episode was so crazy and surreal and it’s really special that you and I shared and experienced it in part together. I remember you booked my hotel room at the Howard Johnson Hotel in NYC from your dorm room because I wasn’t old enough to at the time. I can see that moment so clearly in my mind’s eye. I remember looking at a picture of Jesus you had on one of your shelves. And you helped counsel me and talked with me and helped me be able to deal with what had happened when I got back from my trip. I can remember Nostradamas prophecies being spread like wildfire throughout the dorms at that time and the utter fear and anxiety I felt as a young impressionable freshman college student taking it all in and feeling like it was the end of the world and experiencing my first week and weeks in college during such world shattering events and scary times. I’m glad I had you as my RA during that scary time. I’m glad that you were there to be so cool and calm and someone to talk to and just experience that with. It’s funny, today I was just randomly reading and showing a colleague an article I had written in the daily collegian back in 2002 on decency in the bathrooms, and it also brought me back down memory lane. I’m also glad you helped me in that capacity as well, with the handful of articles I wrote for the paper. You’ve always been a great mentor and person and friend. I’m honored to know you. Thank you for keeping in touch over the years. It really means a lot! More than you know…truly and sincerely!

On 9/11 I mostly post where I was, what I was doing and how it made me feel. What I rarely ever mention is that I was a junior at UMass and an RA to 42 freshman, most of them living away from home for the first time. 

The day was a dizzy blur. Classes got canceled, I went to the radio station and during the late afternoon I headed back to my room. There were a lot of questions about things like when classes were going to resume and if they could call their parents. The kids were a little bit scared, maybe less than I was, but I did know that I had one kid who was in New York City for a concert on September 10, due back to Moore on the 11th. I was worried sick about him. My worry was alleviated when I found out that he was with his mother in New York, and that they were ok. In the following weeks I fielded 4am questions about Islam, about whether I thought it would happen again and about Nostradamus. I told them they could stay in my room as long as they want, and there was one night a resident and I fell asleep on the floor together because just having another person present made it much easier to fall asleep. 

These kids showed no mercy to fear. Within days, they started to come out of their little twin-extra-long cocoons. They wanted to help. In addition to having American flags, food drives, places where they could donate to the victims in New York, DC and Pennsylvania. These kids helped me find my strength again, when really it should have been the other way around. I still remember every resident on my floor that year. They acted 18 from time-to-time :) But who doesn’t. But without that group of young adults, I’m not sure it would have been as easy for me to get back to my routine. 

I was in a brand new job where I was responsible for some young kids. But post 9/11, it turned out they were the ones who helped me find my footing. Thank you guys, to the ones I’m still in touch with and to the ones I’m not, I hope your lives are as wonderful as you are.