Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hashem handed us a financial life preserver and a death warning.

First of all, everybody, thank you for your blessings, your comments, and your good wishes.  I started moderating the comments (and I have received them all via e-mail, but I have been unable time-wise to login and approve them).  Sorry for not posting them online sooner.

Interestingly enough, with the exception of those of you who know my true identity, I am happy to say that I have been logging into blogger via JonDo which I paid for a 1-year subscription (it wasn't expensive) anonymously so that the evil Google empire (obviously I'm kidding somewhat) doesn't link my IP address on the Frumpter account to the Google address I use with my real identity. 

Anyway, regarding the last post, all job opportunities and document review projects slipped through our fingers.  It was a horrifying feeling relying for so long on the coming of projects which never came.  So we slipped closer and closer to breaking point -- we've never dug so low into our reserves to the point that we literally had only a few hundred dollars left in the bank account and then kazaam!

We literally were days before hitting bottom before Hashem kicked in to everyone's surprise.  After the project in 12/2009 (right before NY bar review), we lost unemployment because the unemployment office claimed that I quit the project when I said it ended.  I appealed the decision and continued filing for unemployment all the way until 3/2010, even though not one penny was paid to us.  To our surprise, last week we won the hearing and this morning, unemployment paid us all the backpay since 12/2009 to the tune of $7,000!  On top of that, I e-filed taxes last week, and to my surprise, we didn't owe taxes, but were getting a refund of $1,000 federal and almost $800 from the state.  Putting this all together, this is exactly what we needed to pay off our credit card bills and keep us running for another few months.

On a sad note, I had a physical from the doctor and the blood-work showed some anomalies which made the doctor come to the conclusion that I'm running head first into having a stroke or a heart attack imminently unless I make some drastic life changes TODAY.  So I started going to the gym almost daily and I bought a Vita-Mix blender and an EasyGreen Mikrofarm automatic sprouting machine.  We're going to start growing and eating superfoods and vegetables, and we're moving to a RAW diet.  I was 205 lbs. in 2005 when I spent the summer in China, and now I'm 251 almost five years later (and after almost four years of marriage).  It can't be that hard to get back down so my lab work returns to normal.

So in sum, Hashem handed us a financial life preserver and a death warning if I don't get into shape.  I'm still unemployed and am looking for work.  I'm not receiving unemployment anymore (it has run out), but because of my recent work a few months back, I'm eligible for employment in the state I worked (which is around $200 less per week) which I applied for and am waiting for now as we speak.  My rent has increased as of May an ADDITIONAL $200/month and we have just a few months of survival money left.  I got some health food equipment and am making changes in my lifestyle with regard to diet and exercise.  I am waiting the results from the February NY Bar Exam and I have to pass character & fitness before I'm admitted so I can't practice any law until I've cleared those hurdles.  I am still determined to start my own patent practice, but it'll be difficult giving up the security of unemployment, but as of now I'm not receiving any and if I do, it's much less than I received in my previous state.

In other words, we're still alive, still kicking, still making it financially.  Our home (metaphorically) is still in order, and my wife and I B"H still have shalom bayis in the home.  We spend a lot of time with the 3 kids, and I'm asking Hashem every day for a job and strength so that I can keep a daily and weekly seder and learning schedule.  I haven't written the Lubavicher Rebbe yet about the health condition; I'll get to that as soon as I can.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Almost hitting bottom financially. Almost no reserves left.

Okay, so how do I feel... two document review project opportunities in one week and both fall through.

I was in touch with a recruiter who has been telling me for around two months that he expects a document review project to begin that I would be wonderful for, but that the temp position would pay moderately well and it would last for months. I was totally game for this, and I was looking forward to this, because they were specifically looking for an IP attorney with my experience.

Just last week, I received a phone call from another recruiter that another document review position opened up midtown Manhattan, and that it wasn't my area, but they asked for me specifically since I've worked with that law firm before. So I was all excited. She said they were interested in me, and that the position starts Monday. I told her that I couldn't start until Wednesday because Monday and Tuesday were a Jewish holiday (last days of Pesach). She called me a few hours later and told me the deal was off; they filled the position with attorneys who can start on Monday.

At this point my wife asked, "What was the meaning of this?" "I can't figure out why Hashem would give something like this to us, and then so quickly take it away!" My answer was easy -- Hashem was testing us to see whether we would cave in and whether we would work on yom tov. It was an easy test for us. The answer was simply no. I waited for the other opening that I was hearing about.

Now I always check my e-mail, but last night for some reason after the chag I didn't. We sat down and watched Survivor on our laptops. This morning, same deal. I opened the e-mail, but I was interrupted and I didn't end up checking my e-mails. I got annoyed at my wife (who at the time was still asleep) for leaving her laptop out on the couch for the zillionth time and having our daughter sit there and pick off each of the keys from the keyboard until I recognized the sound from the other room [click, click, crack... click, click, crack] -- I ran out, and stopped her from removing whatever keys were left. I took the laptop, and flung it on my wife's bed along with the keys that were broken off and I said, "I told you a million times not to leave the laptop out for the kids to break it. This is the third laptop that has had its keyboard broken because you left it out.  This is unacceptable." I was pissed.

Around 10:30am, I was having coffee and my wife noticed that the recruiter left a voicemail this morning at 8:30am telling me that the document review position I have been waiting for this past month or so was finally here, and they need two people right away. The recruiter also mentioned that he left a voicemail on my other phone number and that he left two e-mails. I couldn't believe I didn't see them until now! I glanced at my e-mail which was already open and there were his two e-mails. I couldn't believe it.

I thought to myself, "OH NO! I'VE BLOWN THE BERACHAS THAT WERE COMING OUR WAY!" I quickly called him back, left a message, and sent a reply that I'm still very interested in the project and that I am available. I then immediately davened with talis and tefillin with full kavanah, I said tehillim, and in my heart I apologized for my sins that morning and I asked for forgiveness. I got an e-mail back as soon as I was finished that he's excited that I'm interested, and he'll check with the law firm just to make sure they were still looking for someone (even though he thought I had the position in the bag, as did I). I said tehillim, and when my wife asked my why I wasn't nervous, I said, "because I did everything I am supposed to do. Now it's up to G-d."

We went shopping at BJ's (a store akin to Price Costco) to restock the kitchen and we bought food. When we arrived home, I ran to the e-mail, and I saw that there was an e-mail from the recruiter.  When shopping earlier that day, and again while opening up the e-mail, I kept thinking about how nice it would be to put a down payment on the minivan my wife has been talking about for months now (right now the three car seats for our three kids are shoulder-to-shoulder in our back seat), now that income would be finally coming in.  I could pay our bills, buy food, pay full tuition at our son's yeshiva instead of the discount rate paupers such as we currently get, and we could allocate just enough to cover payments for a van so that my wife can get around with the kids.  I opened the e-mail and started reading.  Expecting the e-mail to contain a starting date, instructions, and an address to show up to, it said, "they already filled the position. Sorry."

Now I'm sulking, and I'm wondering what I did wrong. Are my sins so grave that they're enough to remove any blessings that were to have come my way? What have I done to cause the berachas to have disappeared, and what can I do to reverse this? My family and I are so close to running out of money (we've been living on our backup cash for almost a year now which barely has a month left of reserves and then there is NOTHING saved after this.) How can Hashem let us go so close to going broke? What is his plan for us? What will happen? I am so scared, because in my mind this project has been my backup for months now, and now it is gone. All I can do at this point is scrape together some kind of temporary something and hope something comes through or we're on the street.