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How Jho Got Her West Coast Groove Back…

18 Jun

So what happened was that I went into work one day intending to ask about the possibility of relocating back to California (as I had diligently discussed with my hubby) and ended up giving my notice, albeit for 30 to 60 days in the future. Don’t get me wrong – there are lots of things I loved (and miss) about living in New York City, but the daily grind, coupled with a total lack of private living space and a completely unfulfilling (and often crazy-making, I-am-going-to-kill-someone-and-end-up-in-jail) work life made for a decidedly unhappy Jho.

CityBoy and I discussed the pros and cons, got out our lists of potential relocation cities, and started thinking about dates and times and tasks and things-to-do. Then I jumped the proverbial gun. I asked for a sit-down with my then boss and in a space of mere minutes, decided “fuck it, let’s just do it” and committed to my leave-taking. About two seconds after that, I remembered that I was no longer the sole decider of my destiny. Many “shit”s and “oh crap”s floated through my head.  Continue reading

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Work in Progress: Boys on the Subway (revised)

10 Oct

It’s the fall again, or at least it will be if this damn weather stops pretending to be summer. It’s my favorite season. Something about back to school and the cooler weather, the leaves changing and the sky darkening earlier and earlier. The air smells of sharpened pencils and wool sweaters (I think I may have stolen this from You’ve Got Mail, which is one of those ridiculous movies that I can’t NOT watch when it’s on TV. I know. You’re thinking, “Meg Ryan? Tom Hanks? Sheesh.” But if you haven’t watched it, do so. You will thank me. Or we’ll discover that we might not become such great friends).

The wedding is finally behind us (or at least it will be after this weekend’s final celebratory dinner with CityBoy’s East Coast family), and we can both breathe a long sigh of relief. We made it. We’re still talking. We still like each other.

Which means that life can get back on track and we can refocus on the things that we love and make us feel human. For me, this means writing again.

CityBoy’s brother gave a beautiful reading at our ceremony, which of course I loved since he purloined some things from my blog as a jumping point to talk about marriage and relationships. I was compelled to admit that I have shamefully ignored this blog and done very little writing this year. Jobs, and proposals, and travel, got in the way.

So I’m recommitting (again). It’s time to get my ass back in the chair and do what I love best: form words into sentences into stories…”the best words, in the best order.”

My writing friends have been instrumental to the “best order” part. It’s amazing what another set of eyes, eyes you value and admire, can do for your own work. I found the idea of starting with a fresh, blank page a little daunting this morning, so I pulled a new poem out of my waiting-to-be-revised batch and I’m quite pleased with the result. You’ll have to let me know what you think.

*poof*

First, an Announcement…

10 Oct

So something extraordinary happened a few months ago, in April, to be precise.

CityBoy asked me to marry him.

Out of the blue. On a cold, rainy evening. Surrounded by candles and flowers and Filipino eggrolls. (I told you he was a good man.)

this is a proposal dinner, people!

After I stopped laughing (It was the nerves, I tell you! The nerves!), I said, “yes.”

And then there was a ring. And a book, since it’s CityBoy.

isn't it pretty?

Here we are, as illustrated by my niece Sophia.

it's scary how well this captures us

I’m one lucky lady.

Moving Thoughts

27 Jan

my little sister made these sweet cupcakes

The other day, a coworker, knowing that I moved from California to New York, asked me about my experience. He and his girlfriend are considering moving from New York to Florida, and he wanted some firsthand knowledge. This got me thinking. It’s been almost two years since my move (!!), but I haven’t really reflected too much, at least here, about how the move has gone, how it’s affected me and my relationships with others, and whether I’d do it again.

Since we’re all still thinking about the new year and what it holds for each of us (beyond the feverish, resolution-fueled exercising I see at the gym and yoga studio), I figure this deserves some attention. Here’s what I’ve learned in the past year and a half (not in any particular order):

Save up.
If you’re considering moving to a new city and you don’t already have a job lined up, wait. Stop. Save. As much as you can, but I’m recommending at least enough to cover your expenses for six to nine months. I’d never been unemployed for an extended period of time before I moved to New York, and I’d never really struggled to find work, so I naively thought that it would take me three to six months TOPS to find a new job.
Boy was I mistaken. It took me a full year, about a thousand job applications, and interviews with three companies (the only ones who responded), to find a part-time entry-level customer service job. Whose salary is not even close to what I was making at my previous job.
Of course my search was hindered by the worst national job market in decades, a failing economy, and an extremely competitive under-employed labor pool in New York City, but I wish I’d really heeded all those friends and family members who expressed serious reservations about my plans to leave a good job without having a new one in place. Especially since NYC is probably the most expensive city in the US.

Hello World!

21 Sep

Well, I’m back. It was a wild and crazy summer, full of drama, mayhem (well, not anything major…just a couple trips to the emergency room for infected appendages and one very painful bout of strep throat) and more drama.

What I'm wearing around the house these days...in preparation for my friend's wedding this weekend

The bad news is that I’m still in NYC. I know, not really bad news, just disappointing, a little, for this gal who was bit by wanderlust this summer and dreamed of a fresh new life with CityBoy in the glitteringly green utopias of Seattle or Portland or San Francisco. We still plan to get there, by hook or by crook, but it’ll be a few more months (let’s pray not years) down the road.

The good news is that I’m working. At a real, albeit part-time, job. With actual people. With whom I get to interact on a regular basis. The job itself is in customer service (I live to serve!) and it’s just challenging enough without being mind-cripplingly (and more importantly, work – ie, writing – cripplingly) demanding.

And it’s very nice to have a break from the drudgery of job-searching and day-filling and TV-watching that has been my burden, lo these many many months. Later on, I hope it translates to full-time work, with the holy grail of employment: benefits. But for now, I’m plugging along, working and writing and reading and thinking and…you guessed it, still watching TV. In my pajamas on my days-off, a ready bag of Ruffles’ Sour Cream and Cheddar chips at my side, CityBoy safely out of the picture at his own job, leaving me free to indulge in sitcom and reality TV claptrap.

So, if you’re still paying attention, I promise to be better, write more often and report more doings in this nutty, crazy city I’m currently calling home.

Rock on, my friends.

– Jho

Organization 101, or Living with a Boy

24 May

I may be a lazy housekeeper, an amateur cook, a stealer of bed space and a fashion whore, but I’m a very organized person.  I like order.  All my shoes sit the same way in their cubbies, all my clothes hang in the same direction, all my books are alphabetized by category.  The Container Store is one of my favorite places and their motto, “Contain Yourself,” is one of the catchiest and smartest I know.

Here’s a recent photo I’m submitting as Exhibit A:

Jho closet - suits As you can see, I’m an organized person.

So imagine my chagrin to find that Cityboy is not.  Granted, he’s a neat person (in appearance and personality) and he keeps a clean house, for which I am eternally grateful.  But his brain works in mysterious ways.

For example:  his bathroom with its overflowing schmorgasboard of product.

When I first saw his apartment, I had to confirm he lived there by himself.  Because Cityboy’s bathroom houses enough product (and their accompanying implements) to groom and coif a family of five.  I’m not kidding.  Multiple shampoos and conditioners and body washes and razors and lotions and ointments and creams.  All splayed out like sad babies.  On counters and shelves and sink and tub ledge.

It’s hard for me to resist reorganizing the whole lot whenever I’m in town.  But I don’t.  Because I don’t want to be one of those women who take over their men’s lives.  And organize play dates for them with their girlfriends’ guys.  And transform their personal spaces into frilly bastions of pinkdom.

Except now I’m supposed to occupy that same bastion.

He’s doing his best, trying to pare down his belongings (or at least transfer some of the lesser used items to his storage space), which I thoroughly, thoroughly appreciate.  And I’ve offered to help, to bring a little of the Jho touch to his hidden messes.  But I don’t think he really wants me touching his stuff.

I may have been a little too excited about the prospect of reorganizing (which he reads as ‘throwing my shit out’).  I don’t understand it.  The house has always fallen under my providence in previous relationships, most guys being willing to let someone else do the stacking and shelving and putting away of the groceries.  Cityboy’s lived on his own for quite a while now, and usually I applaud his independent streak.  He cooks, he cleans, he even irons.  But I’m good at sorting.  Really, really good.

And it makes me happy.  Peaceful.  Calm.  All things I’ll need to face the chaos and swirling madness of the City outside the doors of our apartment.  What I need to remember, though, is that this is Cityboy’s first time.  His maiden voyage into the wonderful, tumultuous, head-butting experience that is ‘living together.’

So I’m going to take a step back, take a deep breath, and try to be a calming force for harmony as we merge our two households together.  Tamp down the eagerness to throw open all his drawers and hidey-holes and expose them to the light of day.  Bring some respect and dignity to this important moment.

If you have any pearls of wisdom to share, I hope you’ll comment.  Every little bit helps.

Contain yourself.

Jho

NYC: the Pros, the Cons, the Crap Shoot

23 May

I just stumbled across the old pro/con list I wrote for CityBoy back in January, when my anti-New York defenses first started crumbling.  We were looking at a whole host of potential relocation cities (including SF, Seattle, Portland, Boston and DC) but I think NY was always the top contender.  It’s a pretty comprehensive look into my brain:

Pros: It’s New York, for crying out loud. I don’t think I need to give you pros for this. But I will say that one of my regrets has been not trying NY, even if it was for the summer when I was younger. It’s the kind of place where you can really test your personal mettle. I just wonder if I’m too old and set in my ways to enjoy the testing.

Cons: I worry about a lot of things about New York, but the main ones are:

Affordability – I worry about making enough money to really be able to enjoy the place. I worry about not being able to find a decent job for myself. I worry about you losing your job. I think it’s pretty safe to say that I could not afford to live in NY on my own and that worries me because I’ve enjoyed a fair amount of self-sufficiency in the past three years.

Leaving my family behind – I’ve always been pretty independent but in the past few years, I’ve really come to value the time that I spend with my family, especially since new members seem to get added every few years. I’ve never been a kid person but my nieces and nephews are softening me and getting me used to little people and I like that. I’m also very close with my parents and siblings and have gotten used to being able to pop over to see them when I want to. I would hate to only see them a couple of times a year.

Crowds / weather / the whole New York-ness of the place – I love cities. I’ve lived in two major urban areas in my life, Boston and San Francisco, but I’ve never lived in a place like NY. I’m not a huge fan of crowds, I don’t relish the idea of trying to get to work in 90% humidity or sub-freezing temperatures, and I’m afraid that, instead of becoming one of those people who adapts and thrives in NY, I’ll become one of those people who hates it and is miserable. I worry that my misery would make you miserable.

Daunting, huh?  The truly crazy thing is that I still worry about the same old con’s and all these months of discussing moving with Cityboy have done very little to assuage my fears.

The really interesting thing that I have learned (or rediscovered) about myself this past year is that I don’t believe in fear.

Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of things I’m afraid of (clowns, ferrets, horror movies, being old and alone) – but I don’t think we should allow these fears to cripple us.  (Except maybe the clowns.  They are so not cool.)

I was my most fearless self as a teenager.  I moved away from my parents, my family, my friends and all I had ever known to attend boarding school on the East Coast when I was 14.  It was one of the best experiences of my life, and certainly one of the most defining ones.

I’m sure this next move will be right up there.  So here’s to the Crap Shoot.  And mastering one’s fears.  And going big.  Because momma didn’t raise no chickens.

Rock on.

Jho