There is only one constant in life and that is change. Yes, the deadly bowling ball of change. It happens, just not as you want it. The Tower is in Tarot is an unwelcome draw in the deck as the castle is crumbling and there is chaos. But sometimes the chaos and disaster bring us to a place we would have never come to on our own.
I have been living The Tower. To make a long story incredibly short I was forced out of my home of nearly a decade. The living situation had become physically, emotionally and mentally abusive as well as draining on my health. The people who called themselves landlords were nothing short of evil, and the people who called themselves property managers were nothing short of profane, vile, and at the very least unprofessional. I was forced to endure hellish conditions that were hazardous to my well being, and was tortured when I said anything. In short, my dream apartment had become a nightmare.
The final straw was when my landlord threatened me. He said point blank, “I will not stop until you are homeless.” As if threatening me was not enough, he began to follow me around the neighborhood keeping a tab on my activities. It made me feel ill, and it made me feel unsafe because he had become so obsessed with my comings and goings. The final straw was when he broke into my apartment knowing I wasn’t home, rifled through my things, and took photos. To make matters worse, he turned on my gas stove. It was one that never worked and he knew this.
When I came home, I found my apartment in disarray and so hot I could hardly breathe in there. A workman who was an illegal immigrant told me what had happened. I was frightened and called my mom crying. She told me to call my dad who suggested I call the cops. The cops came and were horrified, but couldn’t arrest my landlord because the workman would not talk. However, they recognized the things on my stove were melting and suggested I call Con Ed. The cops also suggested that I find somewhere else to go.
I called my friend Nishu gasping for breath. Without missing a beat he said, “You gotta get the fuck outta there as fast as you can!”
That Saturday we got on the computer and began to search for a new place for me and my puppet family. It was hard. It was tedious and my head was pounding from all that had happened. In addition to this, I had a romance end badly to put it mildly. Now I had to escape a living situation that was killing me.
That Sunday I went from place to place looking for a new home. It felt like a strange fog because the West Side was all I had known. It was where my roots were for a better part of a decade. It was where my friends were. What if I never found roots again? What if I had to move in the cold?
I looked at several different places. The first was with an Egyptian family who was obsessed with cleanliness. The second was a pilled out ex-therapist. And the third was a group of roommates I really liked in Spanish Harlem. But it was five floors up. I got outside and felt numb. Looking for a new home really sucked. Fuck you, change. Then of course there was the pad that was more like a college dorm in Chinatown. I liked the people, but I knew I would strangle them if we were forced to live together.
I finally ended up looking at a place off the 7. It was the one ad I almost didn’t answer. However, it was only one flight of stairs instead of the four I was used to enduring. Instead of an apartment building, it was a house. Both my housemates would be straight dudes. One was a divorcee and father of two grown sons. The other was an artist living and painting off a grant. Both seemed like nice guys. The divorcee had inherited the house from his aunt, and his elderly parents lived downstairs. It’s more like a two family deal duplex. So after some thinking, I decided to take it.
Nishu and my friend Isaac helped me move. We packed my boxes and put them in an uber van and off I went to my new destination. The entire time I thought I would feel this bittersweet feeling. Instead, I felt nothing but pure relief. For years I had held on to a living situation with a real estate woman who verbally harangued me any and every time I needed a repair. For years I had dealt with the rising rent and four flights of unforgiving stairs. My joints often so tired after a long day of work, and at times I even crawled up them. And yes, lest we not forget the shit quality, or lack of quality of life I had.
I said it was the address, the location. At what cost, my mental and emotional well being? Having to work like a gerbil to pay a pig landlord who only got richer off of my suffering as he refused to keep his building up? Having to endure conditions that were not only hazardous not only to myself but the health of my puppet family. While I am aware they aren’t human, if they don’t work I don’t work and that’s a problem. Not to mention having to apply for Aid from the Actors’ Fund and replacing 80 percent of what I owned.
The only things that kept me from killing myself was I knew my children and I were going to get out of there and head to greater things. Also, googling myself and finding the throngs of international press we received, and how people in the world were in awe of our eccentricity, oddity, individuality, dedication, and message to the world in general. Also, the emails from bookers and a manager, someone quite important, who was finally interested in working with me. Oh and I cannot forget the emails from my fans. They came almost daily being the only thing keeping me from completely jumping off the roof and giving up.
I also found that my friends and family were there the entire time whether my landlord was choosing to try to evict me because I called the city on him, and they were by the phone each and every time he dragged me to court making me look like a criminal. They also were there when I was like a pinball too wired to speak. I got lucky, I really did.
Of course it was strange because people kept telling me how well my life was going with all the international press I was receiving. Guess you could say baby girl was facebook successful.
When I made the final exit out of my neighborhood to my new place in Queens, it felt like a relief never to be going back there. The feeling finally hit when I crossed the bridge. It felt like relief and hope. Things were finally going to get better. When I pulled up to my new place, I felt a mix of emotions because it was real. I was outta there, but did I do the right thing?
Nishu assured me I was going to be fine, and that I would find a new falafel cart and corner store. I would find a new gym. But it’s so strange getting a new start. I also had to learn my new address and even programmed it into my phone. I felt like a kid on the first day of school when the mom quizzes them, “Okay, what’s your address and phone number? Let’s rehearse this again because they are going to ask you.” And of course mom gives you a card so you can cheat.
Then there are the odd emotions that come with change. I felt this feeling of failure come over me although I hadn’t failed. If anything, I successfully got out of a bad situation. Still, as I walked into The Metropolitan Room, the place where I filmed Broke and Semi-Famous, I felt I would never be at that place again. I felt defeated. Earlier this year, my DVD had been streamed in Finland and I had been on MTV Europe.
In the next gaze I saw my poster from the World Record show and my signature along with May Wilson’s. Yes, I was going to be alright. I could do great things again. Life was just happening to me. I just had to chill out. So I ended up getting onstage and rocking some new material. Going upstairs I saw Annie Ross and said hello. Then off to my new home I went. I had the clamor and sparkles of Manhattan and the peace and serenity of Queens. Best of both worlds.
Then mind you that as a Manhattanite for so long, the numbering system of Queens was odd to me. I didn’t know my way around at all, thank goodness for jogging. As if adjusting to a new home wasn’t hard enough, my mom wanted to come help me move in. I now dreaded she would piss off my housemates. Granted, my mom is a nice lady, but you never know. I really couldn’t move again.
The morning my mom came in, I got a message from my doctor. A test he did for a certain female cancer came back abnormal, and they wanted to do another test. As if the parent visit weren’t stressful enough. Your timing is shit Mom, shit!
The first day of her visit I felt dizzy and snapped at her quite a bit. Between the move and now possible cancer, file under shit I really don’t need. However, I got honest. I came clean. To my pleasant surprise, she was really supportive and called my sister Skipper who’s an ER doc. Skipper has been supportive of me during this ordeal as she has spoken to me in between shifts and sleep is at a premium for her. She told both my mom and I that this was no big deal, and just to relax.
Of course I screamed to my mom, “All I want is a week where I go to work and go home like a normal person! That is all I want! Nothing extravagant!” My mom assured me I was going to get that again. But it just didn’t stop.
And more of a relief, my mom and my housemates hit it off. It was so much so that they didn’t want to see her leave! We actually had a lovely visit where she got me much needed hooks, drawers, and even purchased me a real mattress. I also took her to see my comic books and my World Record Breaking poster. All and all, a nice visit.
Still, the big C, cancer was looming over my head. To give you an idea, some of the female cancers are genetic in my family. Just as my life was getting better I didn’t need to hear I was dying. Fuck me!
Monday the procedure was done without incident, and the doctor told me my test was only slightly abnormal and they were just doing this as a precaution. However, I was to take it easy for the rest of the day. While I was feeling strange speaking about what happened to my male housemates, to my pleasant surprise they were very supportive. One even had a cancer scare himself. It was nice to have companionship on a day where one would ordinarily throw a blanket over their head and cry. While female cancers are degrading at the least and evil in a way cancers that affect men are not, it was nice those around me understood the stress of the ordeal to some degree.
Tuesday was a different story, as I found myself at a magazine release party. Yes, I am in a magazine that is being distributed around NYC and the rest of the country. It was neat because as someone in the magazine people wanted to meet me. They wanted to know all about me and blah, blah, blah. A few people even recognized me from television. In the past this would have been everything. These days I have my health and peace of mind. Recognition and publicity are just extras to the things that are most important. Still, it was kind of cool.
It was cool to see that despite all the shit I had to endure the hardwork was paying off. It was cool to see my article in a magazine. It was cool to see people suck up to me because I had been on television. It was cool to talk about how my children and I were on international television. It was cool to feel like myself again, the girl who googles herself and finds she is getting press all over the world. The girl who’s DVD streamed in Finland. The girl who was on MTV Europe and Telemundo.
Coming home, I left the sparkle and clamor of Manhattan, the showy sister borough to Queens. Sure, my new home is less showy, less glamorous. But I felt a peace and serenity as I got my midnight chicken pita snack. I didn’t feel the dread as I climbed up one flight of stairs. Sure, there were the strange stairs because I dressed a little funny but it is nightfall in New York. Anything goes.
The next day I found myself at an open mic. I was tired but went anyway because I felt the need to get onstage. Boy did I bomb with this new routine, and some asshole dickhead took a jab at me. I wanted to inform him that I was probably more famous and successful than he would ever dream of being. I wanted to tell my international press credits, international television credits, and list of American credits. I wanted to tell them all I had even gone to Vegas to work and yes, I had just been in a magazine the night before.
But I did a new routine and put it on it’s feet. Comics are comics. All shitty open mics are created equal, and all bad jokes are created equal as well. So are cunty fucks known as comedians. I kicked myself but reminded myself it was a mic. But I still kicked myself. Then I half smiled and became grateful for consistency.
Some things stay the same.