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.


Rae Macklyn said...

I hope that things get more positive...being unemployed myself, I *do* know that things can change within only a matter of days though. Last week I was completely despondent and, but the day after my worst feelings I got invited to two final-round interviews. Granted, I am perhaps more mobile than you and your family (either would involve relocation), but you never know what the new day may bring to you.

Anonymous said...

There are safey nets out there to help folks in your position. Get your wife & kids on WIC ASAP along with Medicad and food stamps. If you need help working the Crown Heights JCC can help you out working the system. There is nothing shameful about getting help when you need it.

Ahuva said...

Just have faith that things will work out. Also-- take a good look at how you're talking to your wife. I don't care how angry I am... I would NEVER talk to someone (even just a casual friend) the way you describe yourself as talking to her. What about, "Sweetheart, here's your computer." She knows she left it on the couch. She knows that her child just broke the keys because it was left in their reach. **Don't say things that don't need to be said.** You also could have added "Would you like us to work together on figuring out a good place to put it when you're not using it?" Obviously whatever place you two had previously decided on was either inconvenient or unavailable.

Forgive me for one more bone to pick... but why are you dreaming about putting a downpayment on a new car when you only have one month of reserve money left? The first thing you do after you get a job is rebuild those reserves! Hashem doesn't want us to rely on revealed miracles-- we have to be practical and prepare for the tests which He gives us (such as being unemployed). Maybe this test is to help you and your family become more frugal. Maybe this test is to see if you two can learn to live peacefully together under stress.

Anonymous said...


Take a deep breath.

Marital counseling is a MUST. That's all that needs to be said about that. Go to Jewish Family Services and explain your financial situation. This should be number one on your to do list!! Your marriage is broke. if it is important to you...fix it!

How old is your oldest? If he is under five and you are rock bottom, why send him to daycare? Your wife is home, she could surely do things throughout the day to keep him loved and fed. Why pay a fortune for "school" when it is really daycare and the child's mother is home? Sounds wasteful and silly.

Hire a maid? Why hire a maid even for a day? Passover or no Passover? People without money clean their homes and don't need to spend money they do not have. We have three kids. Both of us work full time. I take the three kids out every weekend and my husband devotes three hours with am empty house and cleans it from top to bottom. He is thrilled to have the house to himself to get the job done and I am happy to get the kids to a park and come home to a clean house. Teamwork...

Take a break on having so many children. I know you will say your religion does not allow birth control. Speak to your Rabbi and explain the overwhelmed situation you are in. Show your blog to him and surely you will be supported to using birth control. More children do not need to be brought into this situation.

Your wife: Not too long ago YOU CHOSE HER FOR YOUR WIFE. Did you have no clue as to the person she was. She chose you for her husband. Did you know anything about each other?

Enough with "Why would God do this to us?" God has given you every gift in the world. Your body works well. You are not disabled. You have a brain that works. You live in the USA. The glass does not have to always be half empty as you perceive it.

Lastly: If you like your life as it is, then keep doing what you are doing. If you want things differently YOU MUST MAKE SOME CHANGES starting with marriage/family counseling. Enough excuses and anger. You are blessed. I wish you the best life has to offer.

Anonymous said...

One more thing...
Between me and my husband, both os us working full time. All three kids in private school on partial scholarship, we make $65,000 a year. We make it work. We are happy.

Anonymous said...

How's life?
Things working out any better?

Anonymous said...

Zoe, Why didn't you post my comment?

Rae Macklyn said...

Just checking in...again, reserves almost all finished here as well (there's literally only $3,500 in the bank), but I made it through 2 interviews over the past week and continue to apply for positions as I identify them. I do wish you well, please provide updates when you can.

Anonymous said...

I am about to begin Law School/Business school at Indiana University.... I guess you could say that is similar to you because Bloomington and Boulder are not located in big cities. I am also an orthodox Jew (Not Hasidim but Modern). I have an immense amount respect for your beliefs, however, I think in a case of emergency (and I think being homeless qualifies) Hashem would understand your need to work on a holiday. I will pray for your success at Maariv.
G-d Bless

Zoe Strickman said...

First of all, everyone, thank you for your good wishes. I am sorry it took so long to post your comments.

It's scary how we can get so close to breaking point and then get rescued, but for now that appears to have been what happened.

I am still unemployed and am looking for work. I am also split between waiting for a job or giving up unemployment and starting a patent practice. I just wrote about all this in the next post.