Thursday, May 10, 2012

Picking Up the Pieces

Well. What a week. What a month. I just really quite honestly am at a loss for words. I wanted to write this post to clarify and explain everything that has and is happening. I have thought about what I should say and how I should start this post for days on end. Mulling over it for hours, I have gone over a million opening lines in my head. But the truth is, I simply do not know what to say. I have a million things to say all at once, yet nothing to say at all. After being emotionally shut down all week and unable to respond to anything, I finally decided the easiest way to start healing and to start answering questions is to just sit down and write this. 

My heart hurts. It just hurts. So badly. It's funny how the term heartbreak is mostly metaphorical, but when you are hurting enough it really is physically painful. 

As most of you know, I landed my lifelong dream job of working for Disney. I think it is safe to say that working at Disney goes beyond lifelong dream and you could say it was my obsession. Anyways, my whole apartment at home in Ontario is packed up in boxes and was waiting to come down to Anaheim with Kevin and Kitty. I had gone a few weeks prior to us both moving over to do my paperwork early and then I was to start my job on May 5th. In between that first paperwork date and waiting to actually start my job, our plan was for me to find a place and get everything in order for Kevin and Kitty to come down and then we would be set to kick off our dream life. But those boxes shall remain in Ontario along with Kevin and my beloved cat. They are not coming to L.A. I am not working for Disney. I am not even in L.A./Anaheim anymore- I am back in Ontario.

But my heart is still there in Anaheim. It's still in Disneyland. In a million pieces.

Let's start at the beginning. When I first got the interview for this job I had a million and one doubts. I doubted that I would ever make it down to Anaheim for the interview to even happen- but I made it! I doubted that the interview would go well- but it did! I got a second interview and I doubted that I could make it work and be able to attend it- but I made it happen! Finally, I doubted that I would land the job- but I did. 

I landed a job with Disney. 
My lifelong dream was in my hands and about to all come true. 
I was about to work for the happiest place on Earth and in turn I was the happiest girl on Earth.

Make no mistake. The doubt and fear had not subsided. Not by a long shot. There were many worries, stresses, questions and much despair in making our agonizing decision on whether I could truly accept the job and come down here. I mean, I had accepted it on the spot but I had to truly ask myself if going down to L.A. with just barely over a week's notice to get down there was the right decision. Kevin and I discussed it for hours on end and while I still had an insurmountable amount of apprehension, in the end we decided I had to go and try. Within a week, I had our place disassembled and packed up in boxes, a couple of suitcase for myself and a one-way plane ticket to L.A.

I arrived in California with a plan in my head and hope in my heart. So much hope, so much excitement! When my plane landed I really thought that since I had made it there everything else would fall into place. But I guess that is just how a small town girl with ever-present optimism and a whole lot of naivety thinks. But I learned some things real quick. L.A. isn't like Ontario. California isn't like Oregon. Of course that is obvious, but Kevin and I didn't see the whole picture at that point. I arrived the day before my appointment and our angle was plain and simple. Attend the paperwork appointment and get that out of the way. Then I had plenty of time to kill before I actually started my training and in that time I would find us an apartment, get the keys and be ready for the husband and cat to arrive with all our stuff. It was fail-proof in our minds- a challenge, yes. But still possible!

But what I was so blissfully unaware of is the harsh truth of L.A. living. We knew it would be expensive here and we knew we would struggle in the beginning. But we had no idea, not even the slightest clue, of just how expensive and how hard it is to get a place to live down there. What I have come to realize is that Californians who have lived here for years even struggle. So when two young,  impulsive and incredulous kids come down here without any idea of what they are getting into and hardly a penny to their names, the reality of it all hits hard. It crushed me. 

We believed it was doable. And a lot of people believed in us. 

I began our apartment search the day of my paperwork appointment; my first day there. It was immediately a little shocking from the get-go. I was appalled by the prices. Just as shocked as I was by how much apartments cost there, people there had the same feeling on how much we pay for ours in Ontario. Let's just say the difference was astonishing! But again, I believe anything is possible which can be simultaneously be my greatest asset and my biggest downfall. I hold fast to dreams and become blind to reality. As the days wore on though, that reality was pushing itself directly in my face more and more with each passing day. With each passing minute. 

Reality first slapped us in the face when we found a dream apartment that was "affordable" (for California at least) and beautiful. Just minutes from the park, across the street from a library, and above all else they were gorgeous and safe. We ignorantly submitted our application believing we would have the keys in a few days. And then the calls started coming in. Because I am only listed as part time I did not make enough on paper to qualify. Because Kevin had JUST quit his job in Ontario that day of applying he was technically unemployed and didn't qualify. After that my heart sunk. 

Our other option was to send in 6 months worth of bank statements to prove we have enough income to be able to live. Our income needed to be 2.5 times the amount of rent. Well in Ontario, it is that and more. But in L.A. it just didn't cut it. Even though we had the money there in our account to be able to cover all the move-in costs it didn't matter because it had to be there for six months. By 6:00 p.m. that day, we were given the news that we would not be approved for the apartment. Mind you, we went through hell getting this all sorted out. Kevin and my mom were at the bank all day getting our statements printed, Kevin spent two hours finding a place and way to get them faxed over, his parents drove into town and transferred money, I spent hours on the phone here getting it worked out and changing our applications per her advice- it was a lot of work. We are talking 8 hours straight of Kevin, both our parents and me trouble shooting.

Honestly, I am still a little bit bitter about the situation. We spent a lot of money, even more time, and above all else invested all of our hearts in the application process. We were so excited and just knew everything was coming together just as we had envisioned. But we were never told about any of the requirements or stipulations to qualify for it beforehand. None of it was mentioned. In fact, the first day I met her my cousin had asked if he could co-sign for us since we were just getting started. When I brought that up the day of all our troubles, she informed me one of us needed to be enrolled in school. That was never mentioned that first day. In the end, it is what it is. What a cliche, right? But cliches exist for a reason I guess. I am still fighting to get our money back from the application fees. I don't think it's fair since we were not informed before we applied. Maybe that is standard affair in California and everybody just knows it- but we didn't know. She knew we were a couple of young kids from Oregon and it should have been all laid out for us before taking our money.

You can take it from here now. That is basically where the rest of our apartment searching went. Now smarter and wiser as what to ask and look for before even asking for an application, I quickly learned that almost all places had the exact same requirements. No matter what, in every place we looked at, there was some strange loop-hole that worked against me and Kevin and made it impossible for us to qualify. This happened over and over and over. In the end it just came down to cold hard facts: Kevin and I will not ever qualify for any apartments. Now I know there has to be apartments out there that do not have such outrageous prices and qualifications. There is no way everybody in Anaheim is making that kind of money and paying those kinds of prices for places to live. But I had no car to just go out and look around and no resources to help me out. B

But then an even more heartbreaking reality began to sink in for me and Kevin.

California is expensive. So, so expensive. We come from a town where we pay NOTHING for rent and living costs are even less. Yet, here we were trying to move to one of the most expensive places in the world. At that point we sat down and began adding up all the costs it was going to take to make this move happen.

Problem #1. Just getting to California, with all of our needs, (moving truck, gas, food, etc) it would have basically wiped out all of our savings we had for our move-in costs. It's a LONG drive from our hometown and gas prices are insane. 

Problem #2. Problem number two is a direct result from problem number one. Say by some miracle we did find a place that would accept us; we would have hardly anything left to even pretend that we could cover first month's rent plus deposits and fees and everything else included in that. And I hear food is important. We wouldn't have any money for that or gas or ANYTHING. I cannot express enough how little we would be left with if anything at all. I honestly doubt we would have enough to even cover the cheapest of rental costs.

Problem #3. Okay, we will continue on the whole scenario game, I guess. Even if we had figured out a way to cover the moving costs along with the apartment and total move-in costs for our first month by winning the lottery or something, June would be here in no time. I am only a part-time employee. I was told that getting 40 hours a week would be no problem at all but it's not a guarantee. So even if I got lucky and I worked 40 hours a week from the get-go and let's say Kevin found a job the day he got there (which is unlikely) and worked 40+ hours a week. It would be two weeks before we got our first paychecks and it would it still would not cover rent cost. Then we get late fees for every day we are late. Then we finally get it paid when we have the total. So what do we use to buy our gas and food and laundry and anything else that should come up? 

Problem #4. Add all of this up and you have a continuous conundrum. Let's keep in mind that the first two problems haven't been solved and would never be solved in our current financial situation. Moving would cost us everything we had and we would not be able to afford an apartment. Not to mention the other problem- we couldn't even get into an apartment. No matter what short-term solutions we found, we would end up in the same situation. We would be in a continuous cycle of barely making rent and it would never balance out in a feasible amount of time that we could finally catch up and make our rent and live comfortably. 

Heck! Not live comfortably...just live!

We literally would not have ever been making enough money to even buy food. 

You might be reading this and think it may still seem plenty possible and that we didn't look into enough places or go over some other choices but I can assure and promise you that we went over every possible answer and it really and truly is not feasible. It's not a matter of us not wanting to make sacrifices. We were 100% ready and willing to give up all of our comforts to make this happen. I did give up everything and hopped on a plane and went down there alone to make it happen. We didn't need or plan to find something awesome and perfect right away and we didn't expect to. We thought we could find something for a month-to-month or 3 month lease and then use that time to find a more permanent place. But it's just not that simple. Finding a temporary place is not possible with most leasing options. If we could get a shorter lease it cost a significant amount of more money.

~It's a sad, awful truth. But it is undeniable. We just don't have the money to live in California at this point in our lives.~

We looked into roommate situations, Kevin staying in Oregon longer while I worked and lived with my relatives, living further out, extended motels, co-signers- EVERYTHING. No matter what, there was a loophole or problem that just kept falling out. Renting just a room was still insanely expensive and I not only would barely make enough just for that, it would be throwing our money away. And let's not forget, if I am paying 650-800 dollars in rent for just a room, I still would have utilities to pay AND Kevin would be back in Ontario paying for rent and bills here so we would not be saving any money whatsoever. We might be paying more in the long run with that idea. We would not be working towards our future of getting our income up to the needed criteria to qualify for apartments. We would not be solving anything. In the end...

We just need more time. 

For this to be manageable we would need to be making enough to pay rent and live not comfortably but  just reasonably. We have to be able to eat, drive do our laundry and complete other necessities but no matter what, that would unfortunately be a problem. No...it would be more than a problem- it would be impossible. And even if we had managed to find a short-term solution we would need to be working towards our long-term solution and start making the apartment requirement income of 2.5 times greater than rent costs immediately and we wouldn't be for a long while. We would be going in an endless circle and just getting more and more in debt.

I cannot thank my friends enough who were and have still been sending me links and tips and trying to find every possible route. But please know we went over every single option and it just would never ever work in our financial situation. It just couldn't. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into and the money is just not there. But I am so incredibly grateful to everybody that pulled for us and helped and offered us money, a couch to stay on, links to apartments, money, or just simple moral support. A thoughtful word and a shoulder to cry on. Texts and messages with amazing heart-felt words. You are the ones who got me through this whole mess and are still getting me through it as I write this. I cannot ever thank you enough, and I love you all so much.

And now this all brings me to now. I am back in Ontario. I came home to an apartment completely packed up in boxes, all waiting to be hauled to California. 

I am not going to lie- I cry a lot right now. 

I know my life is wonderful and this is not the end of the world. I know I have such a wonderful life and so much to be thankful for. And I am. I really am. But I just have wanted to work at Disney for so long and I wanted this to work out so badly. I wanted to prove to everybody that I could rise above it all and figure it out. I wanted this to be the start to my artistic career with Disney. I love Disney with all my heart and I want nothing more in life to work for them. I thought this was my start. But sometimes no matter how hard you try and no matter how much you give, external factors really do just get in the way. And sometimes no matter how strong you try to be, it just hurts. Life can just hurt. You heart can hurt. 

Everything just hurts.

I have a tendency to blame myself for things gone wrong. I can't help but feel like I failed in this journey, but in the end, I know in my heart that this is not a failure. It will take some time for me to convince myself of that, but I do know it deep down and that is what is important. The seedling thoughts of my shortcomings and wrong-doings continuously sprout up in my mind, and I tell myself what I should have done differently or what I could have done to change things. But I just have to fight it and realize that this was out of my control. I did everything I could.  It just wasn't meant to be- this time.

But my chance WILL come again.

Now I do believe in fate and destiny and I do believe Disney is in mine. But that is not why I will be back at Disney soon. I will be back because I am going to do everything it takes to get back. I am going  to work as hard as I can to make my dreams come true. I have never wanted anything more in my life and I will never give up to get it. This journey was not a failure- it was a life lesson. I was ready to work for Disney and invest in my future, but for reasons I will never understand, it didn't work this time. But now Kevin and I are 100 percent more prepared for when I make my comeback. We now know what the cost is going to be to live down there, what we need to do and have ready to be qualified for apartments. We know where to look and how to get started. 


And I know for a fact I have what it takes. I know for a fact that I will be back. 

Now, all that is left is to immediately begin our plan for my Disney comeback. It is going to take some time for me to heal. I cry all day, but I know I will start to smile soon. I am going to be feeling like me again in no time. Kevin and I have already out our plan in motion, looking for apartments and applying for jobs in Boise. Because our apartment is ready to be moved, we decided a new start in Boise, Idaho is our best option right now. Not only will it be a fresh start for us, there are a million more options for us there job-wise. Not only more choices, but better paying jobs too. We have many friends there and there is a lot more entertainment and things to do- which is exactly what I need in order to start picking up the pieces of my broken heart and pulling myself back together. The sooner we can do this all, the sooner I can start to mend and the sooner I can get back to the Mouse. 

To everybody who has been there for me, again, THANK YOU SO MUCH. I cannot express enough how much you are helping me get through this. I love you all, and I will keep you informed on this continuing journey. Because the ride is not over! I am still in this and Mickey and I will be reunited in no time at all. <3


11 comments:

Deb DiSalvo said...

Hi there. I've bee following you on facebook for a while now and am in awe of your work. I think what you did shows how much ambition you have and the lengths you will go to achieve your dream. The fact that you went out there and gave it your all is so inspiring - its something most people only dream about and never get the chance to take that leap. To know you accomplished this feat and have this experience to gain from, is something to be proud of. You definitely did not fail - this is just a stepping stone under your belt for something bigger. What you did gives other people hope and encouragement to reach for what they want and go for it with no regrets (well, maybe some - but that will take time - we are only human afterall!). Thank you for that.
Cheers,
Deb :)

Deb DiSalvo said...

Doing what you did, only gives people hope and encouragement to follow their dreams and take that leap of faith. You definitely did not fail- this is just a small stepping stone under your belt for something bigger. I admire you for going after your dream - its something most of us only think about - you are doing it! I believe you will inspire people to go for it with no regrets (well, maybe some - we ARE only human afterall).
Cheers,
Deb :)

Jourdan said...

I am so sorry about what has happened. I always read up to see how you are doing, and when I saw the title of the post my heart sank. I myself live in California, in Santa Cruz, and it is really tough. I know that someday you will be able to do it. As long as you are focused, which you are, and determined. You are amazing and strong and you can do anything you set your heart to. With all of the love and creativity you have around and inside you, you can do anything! I really wish you good luck in the future. Keep your chin and and "keep moving forward". :)

twelvedaysold said...

I'm so sorry to hear this didn't work out.

It sounds like you're trying hard to tell yourself positive things and that it all has happened for reasons you just don't know. Keep that up! It can be so hard to get down on yourself when something you want to badly falls apart.

Moving to Boise sounds really great, and you have optimism that living in CA isn't out of the equation. Also it's wonderful that your husband has been so supportive!

It sucks to hear it didn't fall in place, but the important thing is you gave it your all and left nothing back. If you had been more timid beforehand and never tried to move down, you would have always regretted it, but you did everything you could.

I never write on your blog, but I'm a big fan and you're crazy talented. I'm sorry again things didn't work out for you but there are still some great things in store.

Linda Taylor said...

You will succeed! You know it and we all know it. Thanks for sharing this most intimate story. You are an inspiration to us all!

Anonymous said...

to put it bluntly you had the biggest balls to even try and follow your dream, which so many wouldnt of even tried......chin up, remember you ARE AMAZING!x

Sam said...

I've always been to shy to comment in that past but I wanted to tell you that I'm so sorry that things did not work out for you. I know we've never met but I can tell that your an incredible person with a beautiful soul. I know your dedication and passion will be rewarded one day. I hope you know that you are an inspiration, you were actually the person who inspired me to start crafting. I wish you the best. *hugs* <3

Velody Dark said...

Omg I'm so sorry things didn't work out for you this time. I've heard how ridiculous LA is to live in. In the future when you're ready have you thought of Orlando instead? I'm noy sure if you had a specific reason for Disneyland over Disney World. From having lived there I know the cost of living isn't nearly as crazy.

You are amazing and super talented. This is definitely a huge disappointment but I isn't the end!

Jennie said...

Dearest Alexz, I know it's not what you planned, but I hope you have a wonderful time in Boise. I lived there for 3 months working for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. (Which is a wonderful outdoor theatre, where you can picnic on the grass with a lovely dinner and a bottle of wine and enjoy truly excellent theatre! http://www.idahoshakespeare.org/Check them out!!!)
Honestly, I never expected to really really LIKE Boise. The whole time I was there I kept wishing I could be sharing it with Jim (my then boyfriend/now husband). It really was a rockin place to be, and I wish other cities loved art and culture as much.
As you noted, there are LOTS of jobs there, and because the people who live there make good money in their jobs, there is a huge amount of art and culture there too. There was theatre, dance, and art galleries galore. The woman I stayed with went caving all the time too. I loved the tons of restaurants that brewed their own beer and allowed you to bring your dog and sit outside. Be sure to check out the Westside Drive-In (Where you can get an Idaho Potato ice cream.) Also, check out the Bittercreek Ale House/Red Feather Lounge. They have a killer cocktail that comes with an orchid in it. http://bcrfl.com/redfeather/
And the Parilla Grille has an awesome special on Thursdays. $1 tacos & $2 beers. Half the theatre kids used to show up every week for that. http://www.parrillagrillhydepark.com/ Even though they are a chain, stop into Old Chicago. They have great Happy Hour specials on food and the largest beer selection around. Something like 100 different beers at all times. And if you like wine at all, check out Ste. Chappelle wines. They are EVERYWHERE in Boise. I especially like their Reisling.
There was also lots of hiking, if you're into it. I burn in the sun, so I wasn't. ;-)
Now that I've spent all your future earnings on food & alcohol, I'll leave you with this: I know your heart hurts. But it's that which makes us human. And humans also have a miraculous ability to heal, and to plan, and to go to the ends of the universe to get what they want. You definitely have that light inside you, bursting through into all you do. Allons-y!

Jennie said...

Dearest Alexz, I know it's not what you planned, but I hope you have a wonderful time in Boise. I lived there for 3 months working for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. (Which is a wonderful outdoor theatre, where you can picnic on the grass with a lovely dinner and a bottle of wine and enjoy truly excellent theatre! http://www.idahoshakespeare.org/Check them out!!!)
Honestly, I never expected to really really LIKE Boise. The whole time I was there I kept wishing I could be sharing it with Jim (my then boyfriend/now husband). It really was a rockin place to be, and I wish other cities loved art and culture as much.
As you noted, there are LOTS of jobs there, and because the people who live there make good money in their jobs, there is a huge amount of art and culture there too. There was theatre, dance, and art galleries galore. The woman I stayed with went caving all the time too. I loved the tons of restaurants that brewed their own beer and allowed you to bring your dog and sit outside. Be sure to check out the Westside Drive-In (Where you can get an Idaho Potato ice cream.) Also, check out the Bittercreek Ale House/Red Feather Lounge. They have a killer cocktail that comes with an orchid in it. http://bcrfl.com/redfeather/
And the Parilla Grille has an awesome special on Thursdays. $1 tacos & $2 beers. Half the theatre kids used to show up every week for that. http://www.parrillagrillhydepark.com/ Even though they are a chain, stop into Old Chicago. They have great Happy Hour specials on food and the largest beer selection around. Something like 100 different beers at all times. And if you like wine at all, check out Ste. Chappelle wines. They are EVERYWHERE in Boise. I especially like their Reisling.
There was also lots of hiking, if you're into it. I burn in the sun, so I wasn't. ;-)
Now that I've spent all your future earnings on food & alcohol, I'll leave you with this: I know your heart hurts. But it's that which makes us human. And humans also have a miraculous ability to heal, and to plan, and to go to the ends of the universe to get what they want. You definitely have that light inside you, bursting through into all you do. Allons-y!

aprettymess said...

im so sorry it didnt all work out like you planned. now you know what to expect and can plan accordingly. i love everything about socal: location and weather... thats what we pay for. but price of living is part of what chased me out and to texas. i see your drive and know how bad you want to make this happen. you are young and have time on your side. you can do this! i believe in you and your dream! xoxox lily bean