Tag Archives: new york

Upheaval

The blog has been quiet, but real life has been non-stop.

Back in…June? Early July? I was offered a job back in New York City. Since then, every day (aside from a few spent with extended family) has been a frenetic mix of packing, phone calls, errands, more packing, paperwork, finding basic necessities (a new apartment, for a start), working out transportation options, resisting the temptation to buy (pretty well) and eat (slightly less well) all the things, and problem-solving. So much problem-solving.

Oh – and starting aforementioned new job. Given that common knowledge rates marriage, moving, and starting a new job as the three most stressful events in a person’s life (I’m not sure why “having a kid” isn’t in there, but who knows), I seem to have the “do two of those three things at once” down pat.

With that initial mad rush of activity safely past, and the transition into my shiny new real life moving into the “time to decorate the apartment and get back to doing things like writing once in a while” phase, I wanted to stop and take a minute to say thank you to everybody who helped me make this huge change in my life. From the friend who tipped me off about a job opening to the friends who let me crash in their guest rooms and on their sofas, to the friend who dropped everything to come help me unload things, to the one who killed the first cockroach spotted in the new place (you know you’ve missed city life when your response is, “It’s not New York till you’ve got a cockroach in the apartment” instead of screaming and running into the next room…or in addition to screaming and running into the next room…), I cannot even begin to count the ways in which I feel lucky to have people in my life who support and help me when I need it. Being on your own can be overwhelming at times, and from small actions that alleviate minor stresses to feats of friendship that kept me from falling apart in the most stressful moments, my friends really stepped up and helped make this transition as easy as they could have been.

One of my resolutions when I moved back to NYC was that this time, I was going to be more deliberate about how I live here. I was careful not to jump on the first apartment I saw, I’ve deliberately picked different lunch places every day, and I’m not hesitating to suggest exploring places I’ve heard about. I’m trying to say “yes” when people invite me to do things I might not normally take part in (though I’m also balancing this with a significant commute, which can make things tricky). I’m hoping to find outlets in both politics and theater (you’ll note my most recent review), and really looking forward to when the weather cools off later this fall.

Mostly, I’m glad to feel, two and a half years after everything went sideways, that life is getting back on track.

Getting Things Done: Projects, Guest Posts & Doorbells

blogpicFor the last six months, my doorbell hasn’t been working. Those of you who don’t live in apartment buildings may not immediately realize what a pain that is, and how much it’s impacted my life here in New York City. I don’t remember the last time I ordered delivery, because without a functioning buzzer I have to explain how the guy bringing my pizza and lo mein (and, not or, don’t judge me) that he has to call me from downstairs then stand there and wait while I come down to let him in and…it’s just too aggravating. Also, I’m trying to eat healthy.

But I digress. Today, my super showed up to try and fix the intercom for my apartment. Which means I’m sitting around waiting while he works; now he’s replaced the speaker in my room but it looks like the issues go further than that.

Getting things done is a process. You make a plan, you reach out for help, you encounter setbacks, you overcome them. You accomplish things.

For me, the next few months are going to be all about accomplishing things. Two things, to be exact, with a third thing looming on the horizon.

Which brings me to kind of an exciting announcement: I’m going to be lining up some guest posts over the next couple months. So far I have a friend who’ll be sending in a theater review for Evil Dead: The Musical (about to open in Toronto) and another who’s going to be doing some in-depth looks at the redeeming features of less-than-Oscar-worthy films.

I made a plan: to write two first drafts – for two very different pieces – in two months. I’ve reached out to friends who’ll be helping me keep rlbrody.com ticking over with new blog posts while I’m hard at work. So far, all the setbacks on the creative projects in question have been structural and overcome with liberal application of my fancy MFA in Dramatic Writing and a few tools I picked up along the way to where I am now.

Hopefully, in two months, I’ll have accomplished my plan.

Wish me luck – more luck than my super, at least, who just announced that while the speaker in my apartment has now been replaced, it’s still not working because of an issue with the buzzer downstairs.

On second thought, wish my super luck on the doorbell issue, too. Getting food delivered in the next couple months will definitely help me accomplish my goals.

THEATER REVIEW: “Raft of the Medusa” at Cherry Lane Theater

Revised from its previous version (reviewed in 2001 by the New York Times as a production-in-progress, and even then the reviewer mentions it’s already a decade old) Raft of the Medusa hasn’t quite caught sight of land. Titled after the French Romantic painting of the same name, the play tells the story of a group of AIDs-positive folks who meet for group therapy every week.

Continue reading

When you give away my money, don’t put that back on me. #HSBC #fraud #banking #howisthisonme

I woke up this morning (12/18/2010) and checked my bank balance, and found something curious and worrying – two checks had been cashed the night before, both for significant sums of money…but only one was signed by me. The other featured unfamiliar handwriting – and my roommate’s signature (of her own name)!

I woke up my roommate and showed her the check images, and she checked her own bank balance – which was unchanged – and we realized that she must have grabbed one of my checks by mistake. Both had been drawn on my account – though filled out in totally separate handwriting and with completely different signatures for different names – AND HSBC CASHED BOTH THE CHECKS!

Now, my roommate and I have already sorted out the financial side of this – but my attempts to get some kind of explanation from HSBC about how this could have happened have so far been met with total refusal to accept responsibility for what happened.

After spending 45 minutes on the phone with HSBC Customer Suckfest this morning (perhaps three minutes of which was actually spent on the line with an agent), I was flat-out told there was nothing the people on the phone could do to help me. (Although it took threatening to march into a local branch waving printouts of the two checks and complaining very loudly to get them to admit that much.) They implied that in order to get any kind of explanation, I’m going to have to file fraud charges against my roommate. Which I’m not going to do – obviously – although I think they’ve missed out on a serious point here regardless. She signed her own name – that’s not fraud, fraud is her signing my name. She’s not an authorized signatory on my account – so surely, HSBC, it shouldn’t matter whether she’s signed it, or Barack Obama, or Angelina Jolie signs their name on my check – NONE OF THEM ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE TAKING MONEY OUT OF MY ACCOUNT.

Am I wrong?

And here’s the thing, HSBC. You and I have a business relationship. We’ve entered into a contract that provides that you will protect certain aspects of my life. There is absolutely no excuse for providing funds and deducting them from my account based on the signature of someone who we both agree I did not authorize to withdraw funds from my account. Your Customer Service rep tried to say that this was something to do with the funds being deposited into a Citibank account – are you kidding me? Do you really think it matters if the request is coming from outside an HSBC branch? In fact, shouldn’t that make you even more cautious, in your own interest? Because guess what – now that money is outside of HSBC’s accounts, and I have a hard copy record of a check signed by someone in their own name on an account that we agreed should only be withdrawn from by me. You broke our contract.

Am I wrong?

So don’t tell me I have to file fraud paperwork, and don’t try to make this my responsibility or my roommate’s. Somebody on your payroll looked at that check, saw that the name printed on it, the name on the account, did not match the name – let alone the handwriting – that had been signed on the bottom corner, and said, “Yes, pay this out.”

I think I’m entitled to know who that was and how it happened, and I think you owe me some kind of explanation of how you’ll make sure this never happens – to anyone – again.

Am I wrong?