I’ve been watching a lot of Oprah’s Lifeclass and Visionaries and essentially everything else on OWN, and two messages constantly repeat themselves. One is dealing with fear and the other has to do with success. In terms of fear, that’s something I think and write about all the time. But when I think about what would I really do if I wasn’t afraid, the answer is write. Write the book, write the screenplay, write on this blog. This morning I was watching the webcast of one of Oprah’s Life Class with Iyanla Vanzant and she said that unless you’re living to the point where you’re so scared that you have pee running down your legs, you’re living too small. And while that’s extreme, it’s not a total exaggeration. And then she ended with, the worst thing that happens is that you’re right back where you started and you already know how to deal with that. And that’s some real talk I can get with. Worst case, I’m right back here writing every day in private and sporadically online.
The second has to do with success. Last night I was watching James Cameron’s Visionaries and he was talking about how he didn’t get into movies (or any of his other endeavors) to make money and that he’d still make movies/advocate/scuba dive even if he didn’t make money. I’ve heard this over and over, especially on this network where I think people speak much more candidly. So many crazy successful (and now rich people) all say they started doing something that they love and then the money came. This isn’t surprising to me, I guess it’s that I don’t know many people in real life who are doing what they really love to do. I know a lot of people who are doing things to pay the bills or who are doing things because it’s what they’re “supposed” to do, but I know very few people who love what they do.
This is becoming increasingly important to me as I focus more on my own happiness and am approaching a time in life where I have to decide what I’m going to do next. Yes I’m going to need to make a certain amount of money to pay bills, but for the past two years I’ve been thinking of my next job only in terms of money. I’ve even said “I will do anything to make enough money to pay my student loans off.” But the more I think of having another job that I hate going to and resent, the more I know that it’s fear that has me talking crazy and that I need to take a step back and make a smart decision here. I haven’t exactly figured out what it is just yet, but I have started to change the way I think about it (which I suppose is the first step).
So this morning I went to get a trash bag under the sink and then I saw them – mouse droppings! Immediately my heart sank. I can’t do this shit again, like I seriously can’t. Last time I noticed mouse droppings, it was already too late. And the only reason why I noticed them was because I had so many mice in my apartment that they couldn’t hide any more, and so they became bold and just took over my apartment. I ended up having to break my lease and move from Washington Heights to Brooklyn. It was not fun and it was not cheap. It was not an experience I wanted to relive.
And yet here I am, Eva vs. the mice part two. I figured I was lucky because I haven’t actually seen any mice. I might have heard them – but this was after I watched Paranormal Activity 2 (I know, I know, why in the world do I keep doing things like that to myself?) the other day and was just scared and thought I saw things moving and kept hearing stuff, so it’s very possible that it could have just been my imagination.
Anyway, I called my mom first. I knew she’d have the appropriate reaction that I needed. Her response, “You’re bummed, huh?” Uhm, yeah. She was more chill about it than I was. I called the super and he said he’d send someone. About an hour later a guy comes with the caulk. I laughed and told him he’d need more than that. Oh I haven’t mentioned there’s a gaping hold under my sink that any medium size animal could fit under and I was convinced the mice were coming through there. It didn’t help that whoever lived her before me and tried to stuff the hole with plastic bags.
So my not super came through, confirmed they were mouse droppings, cleaned them up (god bless him) and then tackled the hole. In the end, the mice weren’t coming from there, they were coming from a hole by the sink. He plugged that bad boy up and said he would talk to the super about fixing the big hole under the sink. I felt better.
Later I realized that he hadn’t clean all the mouse poop, so I swept up the rest. It was hard, which makes me think they hadn’t been there recently, although I swear there was no mouse droppings when I moved in last month.
For now I feel confident that no mice are running around at night. It will be nice to sleep well. But the thought that this situation might be like my Washington Heights life scared me so bad. It also jarred my sense of self-reliance. Of course as soon as I’m by myself everything falls apart and I can’t handle it and I have to move again. I’m glad this time I didn’t try to fix everything on my own. Asking for help right away definitely made this experience a lot less stressful than it could have been ended with a solution I would not have thought of.
I normally hate asking for help, even when helping is someone’s job (a la the super) but I’m glad I sucked it up and did what I had to do. Growing up, meh, it’s not always fun. But at least this time I beat the mice and got to keep my apartment.
I think that’s the unofficial name of the apartment. When the landlord told me about it, he said it was small. So I was prepared for small. He gave me the keys, and after escaping a homeless man almost running me down because he was being chased by people he stole from, I made it to the building. I walked in and the first thing I thought was, this IS small and this isn’t a one bedroom, it’s a studio. After opening a few doors, I found the bedroom, which was larger than the living room (and which I now constantly consider turning into the living room so I can fit a couch or something in here). Anyway, the landlord was right, it was small. It was so small, but it’d finally be alone and I could stop my futile search for a roommate who would not only apply with the landlord to be my roommate but who would also show up and sign the lease (and not call and bail at the last minute like the others). I learned this is much harder than I anticipated – in spite of having an awesome apartment with balcony and an amazing view and free parking. I mean, I still cannot believe I couldn’t get someone in there.
Anyway, another flaky potential roommate and the threat of only having one day to decide if I want the apartment, lead to lots of tears and me signing the lease on the new place. I’d get the keys on Monday. That Friday I had drinks and a packing party with Mo, which meant that we got drunk and did not pack. Saturday I went to a bartending class and actually started packing. Sunday my mom came down and Stacey came over, so we actually did pack. On Monday, I got the keys and my Mom and Chris helped me move many, many boxes over. Upon entering the apartment, it seemed even smaller than I remember, I start calling it Teeny Tiny.
On one of our numerous trips between my old apartment and new apartment, my old super asked where I was moving. Oh I’m moving into 565. ”Oh you’re in the small apartment?” My mom laughed, I cried. And so it continued.
My new super sees me and asks which apartment I’m moving into, the small one? My mom laughs some more, I cry again. Damn, does everyone know that I’m moving into the smallest apartment in the world? Weak.
But it’s yours! Everyone’s response is “but it’s yours.” And I know that that should be enough. And that in spite of a kitchen the size of my dresser, I should be happy because it’s mine and because I have been going on and on about how I didn’t want another roommate and wanted to live on my own again. But this is not what I wanted and these are not the terms I wanted it on. I’m moving because no one wanted to live with me and I’m moving into an overpriced shoe box.
But it’s mine. And two weeks of funky attitude later, the place is growing on me. There are quirks I’m going to need to work with (the fire alarm goes off any time the stove is set over 350) and sacrifices to be made (only a tomato, a pepper and my basil made the cut from the awesome garden I had). I’m viewing furniture placement as a challenge a la design star. And I’m finally being forced to purge the obscene amounts of paper I have in here. Pretty early on I recognized that living in the apartment would be a really large test in being happy with what you have. I also recognized I was utterly failing in that regard and that was frustrating. Having what you want and still being unhappy is the worst and I didn’t want to be one of those people always searching for more when I knew I already had enough. Slowly but surely I am growing to love this pace and am excited about it’s potential. And in the end, I know I’ll look back at this whole experience and have a hearty laugh.
I’ll admit, I didn’t think much of Steve Jobs until I took a moment to look at what he did and to listen to why he did it. All over my facebook and twitter feeds I’ve been seeing links to his 2005 Stamford commencements speech, How to Live before You Die. This is one of those speeches that is filled with some many quotes that hit you sock you right in the heart and motivate you to keep doing what you love (or figure it out if you don’t know). And on a night like this, I am especially grateful to have heard it.