Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Guilty as charged.

On Friday, the last segment of the court saga with my former neighbors Betty and Igor came to a close. The state prosecutor who was handling my case called me on Thursday night and told me that I would be "on call" for my case on Friday. This is done as a convenience so that witnesses don't have to spend an entire day at the courthouse all to end up not needed. If you are called, you have an hour to get to the courthouse. My stepdad, who has been accompanying me to court as moral support was ready to go at the drop of a hat.

At about 4:30PM on Friday, I called to see if it was likely that we wouldn't be needed. The state's attorney surprised me by getting on the line and told me that Betty and Igor both pled guilty and would serve one year probation. Supposedly, Igor found a job in another state, which I give him three months to fuck up, and the courts are letting both of them serve their probation there. They had hired a private attorney, probably paid for by the proceeds from Betty's car sale or God knows what else. She was trying sell her car that was a gift to her from her grandfather, to support her life with this bum when they left. Along with the telecommunications charge, Igor got a fraud charge called "moral turpitude" which I'm sure I have wrong and am spelling incorrectly. That means that he's basically branded a liar in a legal sense. If he comes before the judge again, which is highly likely, his word will be questioned because of this on his record. It's sort of a way that the opposing attorney or judge can say, "Why should we believe you when you have this on your record?"

Two days before the trial, I got a strange and unnerving phone call. A man from California called me "looking for the girl in 3F." I could see California and the phone number on my caller ID, that's how I knew. He asked me if I would be willing to accept a letter on her behalf and tack it on her door. I asked what it was regarding as my heart rate increased, and he said it was a "personal business matter" that he didn't feel he should discuss with the neighbor. Yeah, but you're fine with involving me by asking "the neighbor" to tack a letter on Betty's door? That's ok? I told them the apartment was vacant, and he sounded surprised. I was so taken aback that I didn't ask how he'd gotten my unlisted phone number and knew that I was a neighbor. At first, I thought he was someone to whom Betty and Igor had given my number, but the nature of the call didn't seem like it. First, the guy sounded somewhat educated unlike the people who called for them or they hung out with. Once I calmed down, convinced that no one was trying to lure me into a trap, I figured it was a bill collector or someone else trying to serve them a summons. He couldn't have known how terrible his timing was. Just to be sure, I traced his phone number back to a home address in Escondito, CA, then called the property records people at city hall to get the name of the person that owned the property. I wanted to know where and who this guy was, or determine if the number was real. Like I said, I was unnerved.

So, that is the end of that. I'm happy with the results and that what they did is on record. For one year, both will be on short leashes. Especially Igor. They will have a year to be reminded of what they did to someone who extended kindness to them. It won't change them, but they will be inconvenienced for a year. And, pay me back the twenty dollars they owe me. Hopefully, it's not in the form of a check as that will certainly bounce.

I'm so glad that I saw this through, and to those who are in a similar situation I can only say to take the same action. It's so easy to get discouraged by the initial phases, but it's such a healing process and so worth the effort. The burden of proof was on me, and I decided to carry that burden and make sure they were held responsible. It wasn't fun, was nerve racking at times, and I certainly didn't enjoy seeing Betty and Igor on the other side of the courtroom. I wish it could have been different. However, they chose to give me the finger in return for my kindness.

So, I returned the gesture.

Now, they must carry the burden of their actions, while I get to rid myself of mine.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

My first week back at work.

So far, so good. And I can tell that this is not just first week honeymoon syndrome. It was almost as if I had never left, but something happened to me over this break time. Something lifted. I can physically feel the change as well. I'm more upbeat, energetic, and I know I'm jinxing myself, but for once I'm not viewing myself as a depressed person trying to catch a wind in the sea of the doldrums. Because of that, I'm not "Depressed Girl Working."

I'm just Anne.

Being depressed in the workforce can make you feel like less of a person. You feel obvious, like a sign is blinking over your head advertising that everything isn't right with you, that you are less together and therefore a target. Your focus is just making it through the day so you can get to that wonderful moment when you exit through those doors to go home. In my case, I could function, but inside I was angry and depressed.

When I started this job last year, I was spent. Not only spent, but perturbed. Up until then, I'd gotten the booby prize in the Baltimore raffle. I'd come here for space, but instead got an assault of the senses. So, when I started the "cool job," I didn't feel inside my skin, but somewhere else. My mind was filled with things that I could be doing, not on what I was doing. As a result, I felt very put upon. I didn't act put upon, but I sure as hell felt it. In the secrecy of my mind, I gave as little as possible, resisting people, things, places, experiences, and didn't budge. I worked hard to keep that to a minimum show on the outside, but for a few times when the pressure inside was just too much to bear and I closed up entirely.

I was still in protection mode from the shock of that booby prize, and nursing disappointment. I wasn't in a frame of mind to let anything in, good or bad. Despite having a great job and liking my coworkers, I couldn't appreciate it emotionally. I just came to work everyday, only hoping to walk out the door at the earliest time possible so that I could have my space. When the mind is somewhere else, it's only natural for the body to want to follow. And that was the pull I was feeling every day, that flight impulse.

Finally, after the season ended, I got that space. There was no daily assault or time taken from me. I was able to expand and work on my own projects and live my life quietly and on my terms. I read a lot, wrote a lot, met lots of interesting people and expanded, like a vice was slowly releasing its grip around me. Soon, when enough space allowed, I slipped out of it, shook it off, and though wobbly legged, got up and walked away. For the first time in a long time, I was able to fill my lungs to full capacity and breathe.

Now afforded that space, I walk around with it like a force field, and when I'm at work, I'm here. I don't care when I leave, nor think about doing it. I don't worry about the time spent at a desk. I can tell that I'm going to give more to this job this time around, and therefore get more. Not just in a work sense, as I did work hard, but a mind sense. Last year, I worked hard against myself but somehow still managed to perform well. I was "Depressed Girl Working" constantly on alert for signs of a crash, bracing for the day that everyone would burst in the door to point their fingers at me, saying that I was a fraud.

There was one day that they burst in the door, but it wasn't to call me a fraud. It was to surprise me with a birthday cake.

This year, I know I'm not a fraud and never was. It's easy to know that intellectually, but emotionally is a whole different ball game. What I was, was a facade that tried hard to show no cracks so that I could convince myself and other people that I was feeling okay, or that I understood the incredible opportunity that I'd been given. Now, I know.

I wasn't sure how I'd feel about returning until I walked in on Monday, and there it was. Like a blooming flower, I saw its emerging beauty. I'm relaxed, positive, ready for anything, and more open. I look forward to seeing where that leads. And, I'm grateful. I'm out of the way of myself and ready to take it on.

Most important, I'm ready to take me on.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Was I crazy? What forces, wizard swept or not, made me get into my car at last minute to attend the Harry Potter midnight release party? It was hot, and so humid that I could see the moisture in the air. Yes, see it! I had no idea there would be so many people. So many!

I had reserved my book a while ago, and therefore got a coveted yellow wristband, pictured at top, from my former coworkers. My wristband told me that I was number 498 in line of the people who had reserved their books. Does that tell you how many people were there? These are people who reserved books ahead of time, not the ones who were taking a chance and lining up around the building in the other long line.

In my own long line, I talked to the people around me and when I saw my former coworkers, hugged them and said hello. I watched them manage the line and do a great job. It was good to see them and they all looked great. No, being an ex-coworker doesn't allow you any privileges when it comes to Harry Potter release night, nor was I expecting any. It was great to be a part of the phenomenon and see so many people in line who are excited for a book.

The man in line next to me was getting a book as a surprise for his son. He said he was going to put it on his son's night table so when he woke in the morning it would be there. What a wonderful dad!

Now, off to the world of Harry before sleep takes me. And yes, I know I'm a huge geek.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I had court, part deux, today with my former neighbors and learned that there will be another sequel. I expected as much, since last time my neighbors showed up without an attorney and were given a chance to get one. This time, they had a defense attorney with them. I was surprised that they hadn't acquired an attorney the first time they came. If it were me accused of a crime, for God's sake I'd take that court appointed attorney if I couldn't afford one.

I haven't mentioned much about the court because one, it is still going on, and two, I don't think about it much except for the days that I have to appear. Today, the neighbors opted for a jury trial, another move that I anticipated even though I am not experienced in the court process. They could face a lot of time, and therefore want to leave their fate up to a Baltimore City jury. That trial will take place in the circuit court in a couple weeks. They will probably postpone again this next time. If not, I'll be telling my story to a jury of twelve. I think they are going the "wear her down route," but I don't wear down. I'm not emotionally involved enough to get discouraged or wear down. We are where we are and it will lead where it does. Eventually, the trial will happen and we can all get on with our lives, whether for them it means freedom, probation, or jail, and for me and my witnesses, life without court dates. It would be better for Betty and Igor to do this sooner rather than later, because the trial will happen unless it gets thrown out of court. And again, that's better sooner rather than later too.

I'm not concerned with the outcome, nor out to destroy anyone. I'm concerned with the judicial process being allowed to take its course as a result of the actions of my two former upstairs neighbors. They know what they did, and they got caught. Because they got caught, they have to go to court and appear before a judge. What happens from there, such as the jury's decision or the judge's decision, is out of my hands. The point is that the process took place.

The prosecutor that I had today was a very good looking man. Aside from having blessed genetics and looking great in a suit, he was a big fan of The Wire which, pardon the pun, didn't hurt my case. He won't be prosecuting the case in circuit court, as it will fall into the hands of another prosecutor.

I start back up with The Wire on Monday.

I'm mixed about starting work full-time again, but I'm coming from a different place this time in that I know what to expect, have the rhythm of my job down and a much different perspective that I can't really explain well. All I know is that the new perspective is a good one. It's one that is more eager and less negative. When I came from the bookstore, I existed in a negative haze that I don't have this time. Oh please don’t get me wrong, I still feel the way I do about the human flotsam that I encountered at the store and very much the same about Baltimore. But, my head is in a much more pleasant place, and though I know the harsh subject matter in the show will get to me from time to time, I can create a barrier between it and my psyche.

I will be really glad to see the people that I worked with again and see the creative machine at work in building a television program. Also, because this season starts a new story arc, there will be a ton of new characters, story lines, and that will be very interesting to see develop.

At the Starbucks that I go to, the staff has gotten to know me and I them. One of the girls who works there just finished her film degree at Towson University, and we've talked many times about my job and that she was looking for an internship. She wanted to break into the film industry and I told her the different avenues to do just that. That is, the ones that I know. You can break in so many ways and everyone has their stories of their unique entry. I told her about our casting director and offered to write a letter of recommendation in her favor if she wanted to send in a resume. She did, and I did, and as pre-production came closer, I contacted the casting director again and championed her case. The rest was up to the girl, and she ended up getting the internship. I'm thrilled for her. She's also thrilled. It's her first job in show business and it makes me happy that I made a difference for someone. It's going to be a great experience for her.

I just got an email from her, part of which she said the following:

I honestly can't thank you enough for getting me this internship, ***** said that I was really lucky to be able to get in there because it's a tight circle and usually *** doesn't take interns. So having you push to get me there is really the thing that did it.

Cool, man.

Friday, July 08, 2005

I've been getting my past in order. Literally.

For a few years when I was just starting out in the internet business, I kept printouts of my email correspondence from the various jobs that I held. I printed them out because there were so many witty, funny exchanges with coworkers and friends that I didn't want to lose. As a result, I've moved the heavy burden of paper, equivalent to a few encyclopedia volumes from apartment to apartment and now even across the country. All to do absolutely nothing with it.

I recently began a decluttering project because I have too much stuff in my apartment. This is stuff that I do not use but for some reason think that I need. I started with the top shelf in the closet in my bedroom that is certainly one of the seven wonders of the world for the stupendous balancing feat accomplished by objects that should not be stacked. At the bottom of that pile were the printed emails. I hadn't looked at them for years, and wasn't sure I wanted many of them around anymore. After all, the person that had written them didn't exist anymore. She had changed and was in a different place, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically in a different city. Many of them had been written before I knew that I had clinical depression, and the struggle is evident. Along with the cute, funny exchanges, there are tales of uncertainty, insecurity, unhappiness, anger, and someone who wasn't comfortable in her skin. At the time I was writing it, I was in the moment and oblivious to what I know now. Now that I'm in that future and have some answers, it is frustrating, especially knowing that I would be able to call a truce with myself and shake hands after I was on medication and got therapy. This doesn't include the crash of 2001-2002 where several personal events and a relapse would lead to a wipe out that left me with little choice but to leave Los Angeles and regroup. There was no quick recovery that would enable me to stay. Though it was probably the most difficult time of my life, I am the better for it. Being at rock bottom can be unbelievably freeing and the perspective it brings is invaluable.

Speaking of perspective, I'm not sure I want an anchor to that past. I decided to shelve that decision for now, and just work on organizing them. I knew that I could get rid of a lot by putting them in chronological order. That helped me eliminate duplicates and all the computer tags at the bottom that could go for a page or two. Same with forwards, replies, and just plain email that I had no use for. When so many companies fall beneath your feet and jobs come to an end, many times it was a frantic print out during my last week there.

As I sifted through them, I saw that there were many people that I mentioned that I don't remember. For example, there was a woman named Jacqueline whom I didn't like and sent a polite email asking my friends to exclude me from outings where she was coming along. Though I've tried as hard as I can to remember her, I have no idea who she is and why I didn't like her. Jacqueline, if you are out there, can you be a dear and fill me in on who you are and why I thought you were an obnoxious cunt? I would be most grateful.

There were also people whom I can't remember that I corresponded with on a regular basis. I'm guessing these were people that I only met through email, that were either work or industry contacts. I only kept the non-work related email, and if I didn't remember the person, away it went. I've managed to get rid of about half the printouts so far, and it feels wonderful, like I'm physically shedding some emotional baggage.

However, it was inevitable that I would stir up frustration with my several years younger self. Reading about futile career explorations, guys I dated, networking that never panned, people I should have cut ties with long before I did, and worries about things that just didn't seem worthy of a furrowed brow.

I can't help wondering if any of this knowledge helps me with the decisions that I make now. Knowing what I know. Sure, I have more wisdom and experience, but just like then, I'm in uncharted territory. I've never been where I am now, and before me is the unknown. My choices will determine where I end up.

The one good thing in going through that past is knowing that it is indeed, the past. And seeing it so neatly arranged and compartmentalized puts into perspective one, how important decisions can be, and two, that things really aren't that big a deal unless I make them one. Nothing is do or die, and that perhaps I should roll the dice again and see what happens. Not carelessly, or relying on fate, but for once to give myself some fucking credit to be able to carry things through when the answers aren't clear cut.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

To all my readers from London, and there seem to be a lot of you, I hope you remained unharmed from today's senseless attacks. My heart aches for you and the victims and their families. It sounds so trite to say that after such a terrible event, but it could not be more true. I walk today with my head cast down in sorrow.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I had a fun Fourth of July with my nephew Alec, my mom and Jack. We went aboard the USS Constellation for dinner and to watch the fireworks on the harbor. It was a pay deal, which put us away from the crowds and literally right on the water. The ship is docked permanently, I think. That was fun because we could people watch while we waited for it to get dark. Alec and I went below deck and explored the 152 year old ship. It was tight quarters back then, and I had to duck on some levels of the ship because the ceiling was so low. I'm 5'4, if that puts it into perspective. The captains and high ranking officer's quarters aren't the glamorous rooms you see on ships in the movies, but rather a small area with a trunk and a short bed. They are certainly better than the hanging hammocks for the rest of the crew, but only in that they offer a hard bed and one's own space. For everyone else, absolutely no privacy.

The fireworks were spectacular, of course.