2009 In Review/2010 At-A-Glance

2009 In Review/2010 At-A-Glance
M.D. Wright

Let’s see: 2009 was definitely eventful. Ne’er a dull moment, plenty of tumult, heartbreak, a few (VERY FEW) triumphs mixed in, tons of moving around and traveling and still struggling to get things going. I feel like a 4X4 stuck in mud 5 feet deep and I’m not naive enough to think that a calendar changing is going to matter. God doesn’t operate on our calendar. In that sense, I’m not relegated to having to wait until January 1 every year to see dramatic changes — DEAR GOD I saw them on a nearly weekly basis in 2009 (and pretty much every year since I left Aetna in 2005).

January began innocuous enough. I moved (once again) back over to campus at UNCG into my own apartment. I was still seething because I had to leave City College in Harlem and an internship with CBS Sports because CUNY (City University of New York) screwed up my financial aid package and took MONTHS to process what most schools process in mere days. Typical CUNY. Most of my friends who have gone to a CUNY school know my pain. That internship with CBS would have done wonders for me. I would probably be there now, post-grad.

As it stands, I fasted, was optimistic about some changes that I had made in every facet of my life, but not much happened.

February was decent, looking back. My final semester of undergrad at UNCG and my professors were mostly all ones I was cool with and had before. So I wasn’t nearly as stressed as I had been the previous 4 semesters when I saw my hairline run from my face like the RoadRunner (trying to maintain a business, losing everything you own, having to sell your car, deplete your entire savings, go into credit card debt AND incur student loan debt all to pay for 4 years of undergraduate studies? And having nightmares trying to find a job after all that? PRICELE$$).

I hit my number in a parlay, but typical me — it took weeks for me to cash out, because of *ehem site’s* rules (not ABOUT to dry snitch on myself). NIGHTMARES. I hit a big parlay. Almost $500. Took a month to get that money. I had Spring Break plans and had to cancel them partially because of this.

March was very eventful. I was excited, because Aflac had contacted me, stating that they wanted to interview me for management. I’m thinking “finally, someone is going to give me a shot, with all of this previous experience and being licensed”. I had spoken with this guy down in the Financial District (Manhattan) before, but he had forgotten. I should have known it was a backdoor (no homo) way to get people in to do sales.

Side note: I’m sick of companies here in New York City trying to get people to do sales on 100% commission, no draw, no company help for the first 6 months, etc. We live in the most expensive city to live in and you’re asking people to (in essence) bust their hump 50-60 hours a week and possibly not see a dime for MONTHS? Arrite.

I had planned to go to Miami and see a couple of friends during Spring Break, and had the cash to do so, but decided to come back to New York to “interview”. Colossal waste of my time. To make matters even more depressing, it rained the entire break and I got a $45 ticket for being FIVE MINUTES LATE moving my car out of the No Parking Zone due to Street Cleaning Rules being in effect that particular day. I was already tight after being duped by the Aflac guy. It was bad enough that these clowns who live on my cousin’s street have 3 cars (2 brothers) and never move them, but I had to park on 117th and that was the entire reason I was late getting to the car in time. I probably spent close to $1,000 between driving, gas, tolls, parking, that ticket, and a little shopping out in Short Hills that trip.

Classes were going well and I had completed most of the research I needed for my final work before graduating. All I needed to do was attend class and participate in the debates in one of my Sociology classes and I was good bread.

Oh by the way, aside from a couple of caring friends (you know who you are) what a rotten 30th Birthday. Should’ve been at the Borgata playing Blackjack or South Beach or something DEAR GOD.

Warmer weather, but no car, applying for jobs feverishly (as I had been since March 2006; haven’t had a full-time job since August 2005 — and have filed over 4,000 job applications in person, online and through contacts TO NO AVAIL — and people still suggest I need patience ha?)

I finished all of my graduation requirements with three weeks to spare, so I was able to concentrate on moving back here and trying to at least find some work out on Staten Island, since I was going to be out here for the summer (more on that later).

Graduation was upon us, my sole focus was surviving and trying to find a job. I was getting OD tight by this point, because I was trying to avoid moving back without a job and having to stay on this island for more than the summer. Graduation was pretty uneventful. My closest family members were there and I appreciated it. But many were unable to make it. My grandfather (on my father’s side) and my grandmother (on my mother’s side) were unable to make it. My grandfather was fully capable to make it, but no one could travel to bring him to Greensboro. I hate that, since he passed away 4 months later. Same with my grandmother. I wanted her to see me graduate, since none of my grandparents were going to see me get married (apparently). She was unable to make it, either. This year was going from warmed over garbage to downright sour, putrid SI LANDFILL TRASH very quickly.

One thing did save the month, however. My cousin Tonia got married the day after my graduation, and that was probably the one day that I didn’t have to stress about anything and it was a good occasion.

I caught a minor break, and was offered the job at Staten Island Day Camp on the spot. So at least that covered my summer (or so I thought). I went down to North Carolina and brought my younger cousin Josh up to New York for the first time. Showed him all five boroughs, the Meadowlands, all three airports (Newark, Kennedy, LaGuardia), Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, took him through Harlem, showed him some of my spots, our cousin’s crib, later took him out to Palisades up in Nyack and out to Short Hills. That was about the only good thing about JUNE.

We did go to the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and that was decent.

The job began at the end of June (a full week later than they expected originally).

July was all about work and I loved what I was doing. I was excited to be working again, even if I was being GROSSLY underpaid (especially for having to deal with those snotty, bratty, spoiled spawn of rich Staten Islanders). We went out to Camden (briefly) to see some of my father’s family out there. Some of whom I had met for the first time either that day or the summer before. That was pretty decent, but we had to come back to the city sooner than expected. Being me, I made the most out of the rest of the day, attempting to catch the fireworks display over by Riverside Church, but we were a good 60 blocks away and couldn’t get great views.

Other than that, I worked every day and relaxed in the city on weekends throughout July. The job was not without its ups and downs (as I got moved around three times), but I didn’t complain. It was all good and expected from me. What I found, however, is that I could never take any time off, which meant I missed out on a golden opportunity to attend a massive career fair at Madison Square Garden on July 30, nor interview for any jobs in the city whatsoever, because the camp required all of my day from 7 am until 5 pm.

I had to go back down south to Greensboro in order to close out my lease and move my belongings out on July 31, meaning I could only take THAT DAY, not the day before it (remember, the career fair?) That trip didn’t go at all as planned. As always, young Mike came with me (he helped me — along with his mother — move me into my spot when I left Newark to start college at Long Island Univ. out in Brooklyn back in ’97, even though he was only 6 ha) and we were going to go see his brother. We weren’t able to, which was a drag. I went to see my grandmother, which turned out to be the last time that I would. I kind of knew it, deep down, but I had another opportunity that fell by the wayside because I made the mistake of traveling down south without transportation (NEVER AGAIN).

I was able to move everything out in time and had to be back home by Sunday, so you can imagine driving down there nonstop, moving an apartment full of things, driving right back after one afternoon of rest, then working the following Monday was very tough. But you know me…

August turned out to be a month of (negative) transition. I was making more money than any of the other counselors at the camp. Some of them knew it, and to this day I believe it rubbed them the wrong way. I knew a few of them had it in for me, but I was pulling more weight than any of them also (in addition to working with both the 5 and 6 year olds, I moved over to help with the 9 and 10 year old boys, plus was a basketball counselor initially). I was due $800 upon leaving the camp and I had spoken with others who said the camp has had a history of getting rid of people to avoid having to pay out monies they were due. To this day I have never gotten a straight story from that side, only being let go “with cause” over some trumped up allegation that never occurred.

So now, if you’re keeping count at home, I spent my entire summer wasting my time, as it turned out — got cheated out of $800, now unable to afford to move Uptown, which I was planning to do after the summer, because I spent my entire summer working at that camp with no free time to go over to Manhattan to interview for jobs.

So after I was fired on August 10, I began applying for jobs rapid fire. I even applied for what few jobs exist on Staten Island. Anything. Nothing worked.

It was crunch time in my mind. I never intended to stay on this island long. I do not belong out here. Many of my friends live Uptown and in the Bronx, or out in Brooklyn and peppered all over Queens. Getting to hangouts with them from Staten Island is an UTTER NIGHTMARE. My social life took a significant blow. We did make it to Calico Jack’s on the East Side (bust) and Nevada Smith’s later, which were good times, but that was about the extent of my social outings in September. The heartbreak was beginning the night (well, morning — since I got in at 8 am) I came back from Nevada’s.

I went to sleep, turning my phone on mute at 8:05 am. I woke up at 2:30 pm, but I looked at my phone and I had received three calls just 5 minutes after I had laid down to sleep. It turned out that my sister, my mother and a family friend were all calling to notify me that my grandfather had passed. I was crushed for two reasons. First of all, I was told he was getting better and had been regaining his strength, was joking and being his old self just 36 hours previous. I had made plans to go down just a week and a half later with my cousin Tyhesia, so you can understand how that hit me like a ton of bricks.

So I had to fly out for a 4th time this year. Of course getting to LaGuardia had to be a nightmare, but I had a great relationship with my grandfather. We had the same sense of humor and he never minced words. Does that sound like anyone you know ha?

D’Ann’s birthday was the following week and I was unable to do anything for her like I had planned. Again, this whole thing of not working is for the birds. I was in my prime when I was working a job 45-55 hours a week, going to school full-time, working on a business (non-profit at the time) and over the Singles Ministry in church — ALL SIMULTANEOUSLY. And not having cash as I had been accustomed to was driving me nuts. I went from driving a 350Z car, shopping whenever I felt like it (my friends can attest, I had a new pair of Air 1’s, Mikes, Air Maxes, Timbs, what have you, A|X, Ralph, new fragrance, dining out — every week), traveling when I wanted and always having cash to THIS??? It makes me want to puke just thinking about it.

I began to regret not coming back to New York sooner to attend St. John’s. I had always come back every summer and a couple of other times during the year, and went by NYU, Columbia, even prospected for Law School at Brooklyn Law a few summers back, but I would never make that trek out to Jamaica in 2003 (when they made the full-ride offer — dumb move by me, as I chose to buy that 350Z instead; always trying to be fly back then) nor any summer following. Now that I had graduated, I couldn’t begin my graduate studies. I had spent several thousand of my OWN money going back and forth to doctors in 2007 and 2008 after I broke my back (and yes, it was SPINAL — Tyson fans get the joke).

I had incurred tons of charges due to the doctor’s visits right before my last semester, along with an asthma attack that racked up over $600 in charges on my account. I managed to pay part of it, but to this day I still owe UNCG $425 and cannot receive my transcripts until it is paid. I had planned to start law school in 2008! Much less not being able to go in 2009 and may not be able to go in 2010 either. Just utter nightmares. I can’t even begin my Masters at John Jay until the transcripts can be retrieved (plus the application fees). Now, knowing what I’ve said just about 2009 to this point, you know I’m in quite a quandry.

I’m still not getting any breaks in terms of jobs.

This was the dullest month of the year. Tons of interviews, no dice. Not able to collect unemployment, no social life whatsoever (due to both the lack of cash on hand and the lack of desire of sitting on the MTA for 2 hours going AND coming back).

I did manage to merit a call from a temp agency that placed me immediately at the end of the month with Aegis Communications down off Wall Street.

More headaches. The job began, and I was feeling like I had been with Aflac earlier in the year. Told one thing from the beginning, and it turned out to be something else. They stressed several times a day that we couldn’t miss days, that almost anything could be an “incidence” with compliance (coming back more than 2 minutes late from lunch — itself, only 30 minutes), not being logged into the phones apart from lunches and breaks, and we were in there 9 hours a day. Even then, I didn’t mind. I had been notified by the FBI that I was up to continue procedure on the 15th of November. Six days later, my mother called me to tell me that my grandmother had passed. I was floored.

So now, what cash I HAD made at this job went toward transporting all five of us (my aunt, three cousins and myself) down south for the funeral. This happened to be two days after Thanksgiving, which made Thanksgiving very empty. All of my grandparents were now gone (lost 3 of them within the past 2 1/2 years and two within two months). I had to come right back home to do my Phase I exam with the FBI in Lower Manhattan and once again go right back down south to attend my parents’ 30th Anniversary/Renewal of Vows. I was told by the guy that I dealt with at the temp agency that the interviews would begin after Thanksgiving for additional positions. I was going to miss 8 days from work from Aegis, and as I mentioned, they were very adamant about attendance, so I notified everyone that I needed to that it was best for me to leave and get placed elsewhere.

If the guy from the temp called you, then he called me. And I’ve reached out to him about a half dozen times since then. See why I despise people who are not dependable, unreliable and don’t keep their word?

The month began with my FBI procedure, and then my parents’ ceremony. The week following we were in Delaware celebrating my cousin’s wife’s birthday. A good getaway.

December was wicked. I began getting a few interviews, but no one really followed up. I even went to another temp, but all of a sudden, I can’t get a response about anything, despite calling and emailing every other day since the 8th of December.

I landed one other interview on the 29th of December — which I am in the midst of following up with now. It looks promising, but we shall see. It’s been a week and I’m waiting on the closing.

Christmas was okay, but I came down with a cold the day before, and it got worse as Christmas Day wore on. We were over at some friends’ house out here on the island and it was good to be around good people. Food, Lakers (even though they didn’t show up) and MADDEN ’10.

New Year’s Eve was subdued for me, but it needed to be. I don’t enjoy drinking myself into “Bolivian” (again, Tyson fans know) like others do. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol. Went to see “Avatar” and that was about it. None of my original plans came to fruition, so I couldn’t really enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

And that was a microcosm of 2009, the way New Year’s Eve ended — not near a TV, WILLFULLY not near Times Square (although I did pass through several times before and after the “ball drop” — I just leave that for our visitors here. No other New Yorker I know personally wants to be around that charade) and, because we went to the 9:40 showing of Avatar (and I was unaware that the movie was 3 hours long) I didn’t even realize it was after midnight until I happened to check my watch out of curiosity. That’s about the best way to sum up 2009. What a train wreck.

AS FOR 2010:

I am undeterred. I still have my plans written and have other endeavors in the works. My cousins, my sister and I decided to get serious about Uptown Media Group, LLP (you can find the group on Facebook) and I am in the process of taking Solid Rock Collegiate Outreach, Inc. (the non-profit I co-founded with my cousin in 2004 while attending UNCG) for-profit and working it in New York while she works it in North Carolina as a for-profit venture.

I also want to start my Masters at John Jay at the very least — this summer. Now that I’ve been back in New York long enough, I have re-established residency, so that helps me save tons of money.

I was unable to re-take the LSAT in December, as that was the date of my parents’ ceremony (I had been previously unaware that the date was moved to December 5th, since their actual anniversary is December 25). So I’m going to have to cram and re-take it February 6, 2010 (I had taken it September 29, 2007, but not with the results that I wanted) or be relegated to take it in the summer and hope I am able to still get into Law School someplace for the Fall of 2010, or else be relegated to wait until the Fall of 2011. YIKES.

I just need a break right now. If this job that I am currently interviewing for is God’s will for me, so be it. I’m praying for favor. For the Saints out there that know the words, please do so as well.

As far as moving goes, as soon as I am able to do so, I am out of here. I feel so isolated on this island. Making my way to my spots in Harlem won’t be a trek anymore — as I still go over 2-3 times per week — it will be just a short walk or bus ride, like it used to be.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE RIGHT NOW. The first four days of this year have not been encouraging, so I’m encouraging MYSELF.



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