Monday, December 31, 2007

What will happen Tuesday with the landlords...

As I sit here awake and unable to sleep, I think about all of the events that are about to unfold the day after tomorrow. Will we be given access to our apartment? or will we have to call the police to demand access? Will the landlords give over the apartment peacefully? or will they try to stop us from moving in which will force us to find another place and sue for the moving expenses?

Crown Heights is a very big town, but very small in that everybody knows about what goes on with everybody else. If we take the apartment by force, who will want to rent to us when we move out? I fear that we will be doing a Chilul Hashem by enforcing the stronghold of the law on our snake-like landlords who pretend to be helpless and weak yet are sly and quick. On the one hand, while I want to throw the book at them and teach them a lesson they will never forget, the lesson they will never forget is to never rent an apartment to a Jewish lawyer rather than mending their lying ways.

I can respect that the landlord's son moved back home unexpectedly, and I can respect the parents defending their son who wants to live in his apartment that the parents rented out, but instead of lying to us and lying about all of the details (such as about the keys, about the lease, and other elements), I wish they came clean and apologetically said, "We're sorry about this; we couldn't know this would happen. Here is your deposit back. Please stay here while you find another place. We'll pay for your moving costs and we're sorry for the inconvenience."

I honestly don't know what Tuesday will bring. I am hopeful that somehow G-d will intervene and will make everything right. However, recently, he has set his eyes on me and has been paying attention to me by hitting me with unfair penalties and parking tickets and other expenses which are totally acts of G-d (one after another), and while I am happy that I feel as if I am doing something to get His attention, I don't want him to be testing me over and over again. I can't deal with too much more stress and I wish more than anything for a peaceful and happy life with Shalom Bayis, a large thriving family, and a life with absolutely no pain, no sickness, and no poverty. I am already overexerting myself with the online courses that I am taking so that I can move myself closer to a degree along with the new job and keeping a happy wife and family, all while living the life of a frum Jew which includes going to minyanim to pray multiple times each day, and learning Torah each and every day. I can't take more than this.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Apartment Nightmare (Continued)

Last week, I gave you the summary version of what happened. In the end, we did stay there last night because I refused to leave after being kicked out of our own apartment that we had just taken possession of. That evening, they were telling us that they had keys for us, but when we were leaving in the morning and we asked the landlord for the keys, she made up some story that they were their only copy when we were told the evening before that those keys were our copy to take with us. It was then that I didn’t think fast enough to refuse to leave without keys and my wife didn’t want to start another fight with them.

The only documentation that we have from them is a signed receipt from them which indicates that the receipt is for rent for the property at that address. Additionally, before this happened, we changed our forwarding address with the US Post Office to that address, and changed all our bank statements, etc. to that address so when we get there on Tuesday, I’ll have mail there in my name. Additionally, we have our U-Haul receipt and the receipt for the movers which show that they loaded our stuff from Denver and unloaded at the NY address.

Lastly, we are going there on Jan 1st to move in. There are many issues yet to be resolved where they originally agreed to various terms, and then last week, changed their minds after we moved in. My suspicion is that when we get there they won’t let us into the apartment before agreeing to their new terms which means that for the first time, I’ll have to call the police to force them to let us in. I hate the idea of occupying an apartment by force, but because they have our rent money for the month and I don’t think I can get it back from them, we’ll stay there for the month while we look for another place.

I think that as an attorney, the best thing that could have happened is that they let us move in. Had they not let us move in, we wouldn’t have possession of the apartment and the issue would be simply damages -- how to get the rent deposit back from them and how to sue them for the costs and moving fees involved in finding a reasonable replacement apartment on such short notice.

My wife thinks that I shouldn’t be thinking so negatively and that we should just hope they let us in. If (my wife says "if," I say "when") they don’t agree to the terms in the lease that they originally agreed to, she thinks that we should just live there on a month-to-month oral lease while we look for another place, and as soon as another place opens up, we should move out and sue them for the moving costs we incur because we are moving because they broke their oral lease (keep in mind that leases only need to be in writing when they are for longer than a year). In the meantime, we won’t unpack all of our boxes (only the ones we’ll need for daily living) and we won’t invest money into the place for rugs, etc. as my wife planned to.

You know that I hate a lawsuit more than anyone in the world, but between you and me, this is the first time I feel that I will be forced to be in one. This is truly a messed up situation. I wish we never took this apartment.


Friday, December 28, 2007

"Yechi" Lubavich Mishichist Camp Loses Court Battle.

By the way, I am not one to get involved in the fighting between the "Yechi" mishichist sect and the non-Yechi camp within the Lubavich movement, but I heard from a friend that on Thursday, there was a decision in the court case over which of the two groups "owned" (a.k.a. had rights to) 770 Eastern Parkway ("770").

The decision was that 770 belongs to the non-yechi camp.

In short, the two camps, both divided and both followers of the Lubavicher Rebbe, have opposing views of how to view the Rebbe now that he has passed on. The yechi camp, also known as the mishichist camp view the Rebbe as Moshiach (the Massiah). The non-yechi camp view the Rebbe as their leader, but only potentially Moshiach, (but because his body is dead and buried at the Ohel, so far he is not Moshiach).

In Chassidus (the mystical teachings of Torah), there is the concept of each Rebbe being moshiach, meaning that he brings people closer to G-d and that he reveals new aspects of Torah, etc., however that doesn't mean that he is the Moshiach (the Messiach that Jews are waiting for).

Anyway, the importance of this court decision is that since the Lubavicher Rebbe's death around 10 years ago (probably longer by now), the yechi camp has taken over 770 Eastern Parkway ("770") to the exclusion of the non-yechi Lubavichers. Most shluchim (emmissaries sent to various places in the world by the Rebbe to open up Chabad Houses and bring Jews closer to G-d) are non-yechi, regardless of what their personal beliefs are about the Rebbe and whether when Moshiach comes, whether it will be the Rebbe. These shluchim congregate in Crown Heights, Brooklyn once each year for the annual convention. The problem is that last year, one Yechi guy threw a bench at the shluchim, another threw a Gemara at one, and yet another set of them blocked entry by forming a linked-chain to prevent the shluchim from entering 770. Further, last year (or the year before, I can't remember), they blasted music that made being in 770 unbearable, and overall, have caused many problems for the Lubavich movement by infiltrating the Lubavich schools and teaching the children moshichist beliefs, some of which don't have a basis in Torah (although they will prove to you otherwise).

All this being said, the court decided that 770 belongs to the non-yechis, so this is a big victory for us. However, the meaningfulness of this though is limited, because it is almost certain that the Yechi camp will appeal this decision and it will go back to court for another round.

My personal view is that there should be no division between Jews, but the reality of it is that there are different beliefs, and often enough, both belief sets are right. G-d is infinite, and is expressed in infinite ways. It only makes sense that one group of Jews believe that he should be worshipped with fear and others to believe that he should be worshipped with love. Similarly within the Lubavich movement -- obviously the Rebbe was a great Jew and a Tzaddik in our time. Also, the Rebbe has the capacity to be Moshiach and may very well be (we will see soon when Moshiach comes). However, now that the Rebbe is dead, it makes sense that there will be a group of Jews who believe that if we call him forth to be Moshiach, that will influence him to come back sooner; thus, the yechi camps go to extremes to try to get people to acknowledge that he is Moshiach (similar to how people tried to convince others that JC was the son-of-G-d and that he had not died). Then there is the non-yechi camp who believes that following the Rebbe's teachings will bring Moshiach sooner (whoever Moshiach ends up being). This seems to me to be the essence of the division between the two camps.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Apartment Nightmare!

After being so excited about getting the New York apartment, when we got there on Wednesday night to move in, the landlord's adult kids were back from some foreign country and were living in their parent's vacant apartment that we rented; they put up a fight and did not want to move out and even tried to block us from moving in by screaming that we should turn the [one-way] U-Haul around and go back to Colorado. On top of that, we paid for movers by the hour on both ends to help pack the truck and unpack the truck, and the movers were standing there for over an hour in the rain while this whole thing was happening.

Even though in the end the landlords let us put our stuff there, they told us we couldn't stay there and had to go home. They lied about several things [including telling us that they didn't have a lease when a few hours earlier, they told us they had one and were ready for us to move in, among other things] and when we were leaving, they wouldn't give us the keys to the apartment. Stressed from the whole situation, I didn't think fast enough to demand the keys before we agreed to leave with all of our possessions locked in their apartment.

So as it stands, all of our possessions are behind locked doors and the landlord's kids are in that apartment with all of our possessions. Apparently, we were told that we could move in no earlier than this Tuesday (Jan 1), but I'm sensing that the landlords don't want to rent the place to us at all. I'm not exactly sure what to do. Between you and me, this could turn into a messy lawsuit, especially if they don't give us possession on Jan 1st, but I'm trying to avoid that and am trying to get possession of the apartment and our belongings without calling the police and demanding entry and access to our stuff. On top of that, they already have our rent deposit. Legally, I am of the opinion that we took possession of the apartment when the landlords allowed us to move in on Wednesday night before kicking us out and telling us that we had to leave.

I'll write again after the weekend to let you know how things are going.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Divine Providence Story -- We found an Apartment!

It has been quite a busy two days. Because my job is in New York, my wife and I went around New York to look for apartments. We looked in the city and we looked in Long Island, but it was too big to see in just two days. We decided to go to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and look for apartments there. We drove around looking for "for rent" signs, checked out a few horrific apartments, and stayed near the airport after our first night quite exhausted.

Day two, we drove around Long Island, but the Jewish neighborhoods that were recommended to us seemed so residential that it was so hard to find apartments for rent. We visited a few of the local Chabad houses, but it seemed that many of them were there for the non-religious community to give them an atmosphere for growth in their yiddishkeit. I spoke to one young Rabbi who told me that aside from me, there would be few Jews at morning minyan (prayer) who had a beard like me. I thought, "okay, there's a Jewish community here, although it's not a frum (religious) community, at least there are restaurants here and places to pray." The problem was that the cost of the apartments were extremely high, and we couldn't find anything respectable for less than $1200 per month when we wanted to pay less than a thousand dollars of rent per month.

Towards the afternoon, my wife suggested that we go back to Crown Heights because she saw an apartment complex online that advertised large apartments. I wanted to make sure that I was within a mile of the large Jewish community, and this one was 1.3 miles. The apartment complex was a few blocks off of Eastern Parkway, but a few blocks away from the Jewish community. However, we knew that there were thousands of Jews here, so some must have lived here. We saw an apartment complex where the rent was $850 for a large apartment -- new carpets, nice kitchen, nice bedroom. We were very excited to have found a place, and the man showing the apartment said that all we needed to get into the apartment was one of their applications and a $100 deposit. Sweet!

We drove all around looking for the post office, and finally we found on on the other side of town on Empire Blvd (the people working there were very rude, by the way), and we got a $100 money order and drove back to the apartment complex. Happy that we secured our spot, we drove over to one of the restaurants on Kingston Ave. Someone saw me and asked if I was new to the area (my bluish shirt probably gave me away, even though most days I wear white), and I told them of our success. He asked me where I found the apartment, and I told him. He stood up, walked over to me and in a quiet voice, he said, "You made a mistake. That's a dangerous part of town and there are no Jews there. That is outside the community." He proceeded to tell me about the police officer that was recently shot and the Jewish man who was killed in that area a year ago while moving his car to the other side of the street. He then proceeded to make a few phone calls to someone who knew of a few open apartments.

The restaurant owner overheard our conversation and told me that his cousin owns a home which has apartments in it that he rents out. My wife and I were happy to look into it, but we were leaving NY that evening. He made a few phone calls right there on the spot and told us that if we waited half an hour, the guy who owns the house will show us the apartment. It was a beautiful apartment right in the middle of the Jewish neighborhood, and we left a deposit, and so we will soon be Crown Heights residents.

Later on when talking to my wife, while she was very happy that we finally have an apartment (albeit still in a city -- we preferred to have chickens in our back yard), both she and I were annoyed that G-d had to have us lose $100 to find this place. Thinking about it for a moment, if we didn't spend all that time going to the post office and dealing with the rude women behind the desk, we would have gotten dinner one hour early and we would have missed the guy and the whole conversation about housing, and the owner of the restaurant might have never overheard us talking and wouldn't have suggested his cousin's apartment house to us and thus we realized that finding this apartment was completely by divine providence. After thinking about this and relating it to my wife, we both stood there stunned because we were amazed by the coincidences that happened today.

So B"H, I have my attorney job, a salary, and now we have an apartment and a community to live in. I am very excited by the stability that we hope is soon to follow. Baruch Hashem (thank G-d), We have come a very long way from being unemployed and out of law school to being a patent attorney in New York City (the job isn't patent prosecution, but it is close enough doing contract work, licensing, etc.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Resolution of fight with wife... I won.

Just as the bad turned to worse, my wife and I had it out this morning. She was angry that as soon as we got back at my aunt's house where we are staying (she is living in a Jewish boat community in another state for the winter months), I sat down in front of the TV and zoned out. She was still upset that I wasn't holding the baby so that she could look for apartments.

The fight progressed into unrelated topics (when people are angry, it is often hard to stay on topic because so many hurts come to the surface) and then when I returned to the topic of appreciation she said the biggest insult of all which was that I didn't respect her when she went to work for a year while I was home doing who knows what. I almost flipped because I feel even now that I worked harder then than I ever did to find a job because my goal was to give her the home that she deserved and the life that she deserved instead of sending her off to work each day while I did the laundry. Plus, it killed me that she had to work (aka that she had work and I didn't) while I was home and the hardest part was convincing her that while I wasn't bringing in any money, that job hunting was the biggest killer of my energy and time and that I was fully enmeshed in it while she was at work.

Anyway, back to our argument, I saw that she was past the cool and calm point that she usually fights from, and I was also past the calm but highly annoyed point because in a ferocious tone (but still controlled) I told her that she was acting like a "B-I-T-C-H" (even during our argument I spelled it out instead of saying it) and at that point, the fight escalated to her almost crying, but I didn't back off the way I usually do at that point; I wanted to hear what she had to say because I thought that maybe I was wrong.

In short, she was feeling overwhelmed with everything she was doing and she thought I was telling her that she wasn't doing anything right, when I was just telling her that she wasn't doing the apartment hunting right. I then (I was crying at this point, but she didn't notice) told her that she does things as a mother that take so much devotion and skill that I could never do them nearly as good as her and that I am always impressed by the level of love and devotion that she gives our son and that I think she is amazing for being able to do that. Then she softened in her tone, but she couldn't understand why I needed to feel appreciated when she does what she does without the need for appreciation.
I then proceeded to tell her that some people have a need for appreciation and others simply don't; I do. I went into a few examples of why I need appreciation, and that being of the male race, we need it more than females do and this is just the way we are.

As soon as I saw that she acknowledged that I work hard and that she understood that we both worked extremely hard to get to where we are, I softened up because all I wanted from our conversation was to express the need that I needed to feel appreciation because I felt that she wasn't appreciating any of the work that I have done over the time we have known eachother to get us to where we are today.

While I am never proud of fighting with my wife, and while I am not happy with the way things went last night and the majority of this morning's fight (she went to bed without saying goodnight; I slept in another room; we both woke up angry and frazzled), I would say that this turned out to be one of our best fights because I felt that the way we fought in the end made her feel as if I understood her completely without either of us budging one teeny bit from our underlying points. I am not happy that I won the fight, because all in all I did win it, not by destroying her (chos v'sholom -- I never degrade her or insult her, and I try never to even fight in anger), but by communicating skillfully and lovingly. After all, nobody will doubt that she is an amazing mother, and nobody will doubt that she spends every second of her life devoted to our son's every waking moment. She just didn't realize that I was feeling unappreciated for the things we have accomplished.


PS - As I am writing, she is sitting across from me looking at apartments. We spoke about our fight this morning and laughed at the point that I felt that I won this morning's fight -- she said the reason I was so excited about it was because I usually end up being wrong and so winning a fight is a rare thing for me. I love my wife.

Sounds from this blog?

By the way, has anyone noticed any radio, sounds, or music playing when this blog is on? I think there is a programming glitch in the web site which I need to fix.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Friction when joy should be here.

Hi all. I'm very tired from a whole day of packing and traveling back home, and now on top of everything, I am angry and frustrated so I figured I would vent my frustration here on the blog.

The trip to my mother's house overall went well; the next day after the fight it was as if the fight never happened. I thought about saying something to my mom about what happened, but I didn't think that she understood what she did wrong, and I wasn't in the mood for a rehash of the previous night's argument. Yes, calling me selfish shouldn't have set me off, but it was more the fact that my mother was insulting me and calling me names in front of my wife that got me annoyed. One thing that I have found to be paramount to a good relationship is respect by both the husband and the wife for one another, and if I let my mom step all over me, that would have sent a message to my wife that it would have been okay for her to do that too and I don't believe this is kind of interaction would be acceptable in a marriage. I got angry because firstly, she was wrong -- I am far from selfish, and secondly, her actions put me in a situation where my wife was watching how I reacted to my mother's instigations and she would have judged me negatively if I lost my temper.

Now moving forward in time... My wife and I had an argument and I am not so sure I was in the right this time. Happy news, I got a job offer which I accepted just a few days ago. As you know, I worked tirelessly applying to jobs and going on interviews for over a year and I took dead-end jobs with killer hours and sometimes non-existent salaries just to get experience and to pay the bills, and it wasn't easy. There has been a lot going on since with an enormous amount of responsibilities, I have had very little energy when I am not giving my all to the projects I have been working on, or to being a good husband and father by spending quality time with my wife and my son. Since we have been spending so much time away from our non-existent home (we moved out of our apartment as planned and have been living out of a suitcase while visiting either the in-laws or my parents since the end of November) my wife is getting antsy about the fact that we don't have a home to live in. What annoys me is that it was our plan to do this -- move out by the end of November, have a goal to find a job by the beginning of December. Well, G-d took a little longer than we expected, but we are two weeks into December and I have a new job in a new place.

I took responsibility for various things, and the only thing my wife took responsibility for in this whole slew of moving our lives to the next chapter was to find us an apartment, particularly because she had such a strong interest in exactly what it looked like, etc. so to give her what she wanted, I let her take care of the apartment searching.

Needless to say, she has dabbled in apartment hunting, but I don't think she has done anything substantial. I haven't faulted her for this, nor have I even said anything to her, but now (tonight) she started a tirade of complaining that it was my fault that she didn't find an apartment because I wasn't taking care of the baby and she can't live out of a suitcase anymore and that she wants to live in a hotel until we find an apartment.

As per her claims, I don't deny that she spends a majority of time taking care of the baby -- she is an amazing mother and devotes her whole life to taking care of our baby. She stays up at nights for him, feeds him and holds him, takes care of his napping schedule, takes care of his eating schedule, and she cottles him when he needs her attention. As things would have it, I am our son's entertainment. I hold him quite frequently and I give my wife as many breaks as I possibly can, and I play with him multiple times daily. I talk to him, play with him, and watch him, and although I sometimes feed him or bathe him or change his diaper, the quantity of times I have done this doesn't hold a candle to the number of times my wife does it regularly. However, the last thing someone would say is that I am lazy -- I am more involved in my son's life and I spend significantly more time each hour with him than most fathers would with their sons. I just feel that the way my wife and I have been built with regard to what each of us can contribute to the baby, she takes care of the things she does because she was made for this. She never let me give him formula because twice when he was an infant, he vomited from it, and so we rely on her to feed him.

Okay, I'm tired and off topic. However, in short, she is nudging me about not finding an apartment when this was the only responsibility she has taken on other than taking care of the baby in the capacity of a mother. I would be happy to go out and find an apartment, but then it is she that wanted the task and it is she that has to ultimately live in it. I am just annoyed because I feel that I have done my part by taking care of everything that I needed to and she hasn't done her part that she committed to. You can be critical of me by saying that we should be working together as a team, but that means that she should be doing her part.

All this being said, I feel that it is important for each of us to do what we are supposed to do, and while she sleeps late while I wake up early in the morning to go to minyan and to work and to learn Torah and to go back to school and get the degree and to take care of our finances and to constantly cater to her needs and to be a good father and to be a good husband, I get frustrated when she doesn't understand when I am burnt out and low in energy and when I cannot do her part as well.

I know I'm not saying much, but I am just ranting because I am not feeling appreciated. Maybe she isn't feeling appreciated either, but I don't understand how because I've gone far beyond what a husband should do for his wife on so many levels. I'm not fighting with her and our communication is open, but for the moment I am feeling a bit overwhelmed because she is causing a bit of friction between us when I feel that she should be very excited from the job we have landed and from the lifestyle I am about to provide for her. I just want her to be proud of me and appreciative of the work I have done to get us where we are.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Strained Relationship with Mother

I know it has been so long since I've written consistently and I've probably lost all of you as readers, so I suppose this blog entry will be seen by few if any.

I am in California visiting my mom with my wife and my son. We came here because I needed a break from my not-so-full-time job which wasn't bringing in any money. Actually, we came here because we thought it would be a vacation where my wife and I would give my mother who has been an absentee grandmother living all the way on the west coast next to the richest neighborhood in the country a chance to spend some quality time with our son. Obviously, having the opportunity to have a babysitter is also what we wanted, along with a chance to spend some quality time with my wife who has been so helpful and patient during these hard financial months.

My mother has been very kind to us, driving us wherever we want to go, and cooking for us and giving us her every moment of time, but something has been wrong. She has not been letting my wife and me move around and she has held us back from getting our own transportation essentially secluding us in and around her apartment. We tried to rebel by wanting to go off on our own and to rent our own car, but then she turned kind and generous and offered us her car only to revoke that offer every time we need it. We decided that this is the way grandmas house is and that we'll remember to get our own car and our own hotel next time we come to visit.

However, as nice as we have been, tonight my mom turned nasty. Over the many years we have all had issues with my mom and computers, or her intentional lack of knowledge regarding them. I learned early to avoid computer conversations with her, but my sister has always gotten sucked into them always leading to fights. Tonight she told my mom to hit "refresh" regarding one of my mom's computer problems. She asked me how and I told her "hit the F5 button." When she told me that nothing was happening, I told her that I wouldn't help her further because obviously I didn't want to get into one of those conversations with her. She then started mumbling to herself and calling me names. She called out, "you are selfish!". After calling me selfish, I walked over to her and quietly (but angrily and forcefully) said, "don't you ever call me selfish and don't you ever embarass me in front of my wife."

While she was wrong in what a mother-in-law should and should not say to poison the relationship between a mother and a son, and while I was wrong for saying a "don't you dare" to my mother because that showed lack of respect for my mother, I am hurt because I feel that my mother was uncarefully playing games with my life and with my family by trying to make me lose my cool in front of my wife, all because I wouldn't help her with her computer.

Now I am upset because I feel that my relationship with my mother is strained, and this could be a permanent strain. Between you and me, I really just want to pack up and leave this place. This environment is poisonous for my family.