Monday, April 8, 2013

Runaway Groom, or Marry me New Yorker!

 "Chris, will you take Alice to be your wife, your partner in life and your one true love?" Silence. "Where is Chris?"...
  Remember the movie " Runaway Bride" with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Julia plays a bride who is breaking up the weddings and running away from her grooms. I know exactly how her grooms felt as I was in their place. I could never imagine running after men, or asking them for anything. My lawyer told me straight-forward if I wanted to stay in United States, I should marry for love. He also told me that he would not accept a fake marriage. It was my second day after my release from the immigration prison. I guess I was still in the state of shock. I took my phone and looked at my contacts. I didn't have a boyfriend, but I had a list of men who I was dating on and off. I chose 5 potential fiancees and called my first potential candidate. Let's call him Andrew. We had a small talk, and I asked him to marry me explaining my situation. There was a 3 minute silence on the other end. Then Andrew burst into laugh. He said nobody proposed to him before, and he liked me, but he was not ready to get married to anyone, especially under such short notice. I was laughing too. Of course, it was a ridiculous idea. I was definitely desperate to get my Green Card. But what could I do in this situation? My friend recommended me a lawyer who was specializing into my type of cases. That lawyer suggested that I would do a political asylum. To be honest, that was a terrible idea. I had no reasons to ask for an asylum, and I had no real choice to get it approved. But I had my master hearing scheduled in two months and no fiancee. So I decided to take a chance and made a case for a political asylum. I was thinking it was temporary, just to win some time to find a real love here. Ha! Naive girls pay double price. I got myself into a really "bad political romance" and increasing financial expenses.  My political asylum request got accepted, and my next hearing was scheduled in 2 years. Yes, this is New York, and judges are really busy people. So I got plenty of time to find a fiancee. In few months, I got a nice boyfriend, but it did not work out. We broke up after 4 months, because I got a feeling that he would never marry me. Of course, it was all in my head. The biggest obstacles in our lives are the barriers our mind create. Once you realize it, you are on your way to success. My other boyfriend was a wealthy man who was previously divorced and had a child. I didn't really want to get married to him. And so I did not marry him...Probably, the best choice that I made in my life.

What I learned from this New York experience:

*Nobody owns you anything. Everybody works hard to make a living in New York. And they expect you to do the same. You can make it here, but never take people for granted.  They can forgive your success, but will never forget your disrespect. World is a small place.We are all connected.

*Don't ask anyone for anything, and especially from people who are stronger and more powerful than yourself. Make them want to give you. You will feel much better if you earn their respect, but not their sympathy.

*Never feel sorry for yourself. Once you start feeling sorry, you are done. You are digging the grave of pithiness. You might get some "funeral flowers" from your closest friends, but even they forget you soon. People usually look for positive moments, nobody wants to be dragged into your problems. 

*If you are confused and don't know what to do, start moving forward. You will come with a good decision on the way up. It's like a pilot who is lost in the clouds and can't see a clear road, always flies his plane higher, above the clouds. So he can see clear and find the right way.

*Hey, don't take life too seriously:) Cheer up!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New York city is all about looks, but don't be duped by its glitter.

New York Alpha Male  vs. Prince Charming
 What would you feel if a good-looking stranger tells you that you are beautiful, smart, have the most gorgeous smile and incredible eyes? Probably, you would melt inside and smile wider, right? You would accept it as a compliment. A woman who lives in New York would smile at the compliment. But she would have double thoughts about a stranger's intentions. She would think: "Is he going to sell me something?", "What does he do?", "Where does he live?", "Where is he going to invite me for dinner?", and etc. Why? First, NY woman knows that every action has double meaning, men like playing alpha males to get everything they want from a woman. Second, New York woman is looking for a man from her circle or better circle, someone who makes good money, independent and well-established. These are unwritten rules in New York, everyone plays the same game: "hard to get and get it hard".

  I didn't know about all these "new york's rules" when I got here. Of course, I blame my pink glasses that made everyone look so ... "pink":) My first alpha male was a producer from Hollywood. Now I wish he was from Bollywood, at least I could say that we had misunderstood each other. I met Mr. Hollywood at the restaurant where I worked as a waitress. He was very handsome, well-spoken and intelligent. He invited me for dinner and offered a researcher position. He explained that he was making a documentary about immigrants in New York. He promised me a decent payment. He explained that he was working from home, his office was located in Los Angeles, and he was looking for a new office space in New York. In the morning when I got to his apartment, he was half naked. He asked me to make coffee while he was taking a shower. I walked to the kitchen, and started making coffee for him. He walked out of the shower wearing just a towel. I felt very uncomfortable. He said that I could become a great actress, and he could help me. I said I was more interested  in a researcher position. He smiled and called me "silly babe". Then he asked if I was good at massage. I felt that I was getting into a trap. I told him that I had to use a restroom, and ran towards the exit door. When I got outside, I kept running till I got on the subway. Mr. Hollywood wasn't that holy after all. 
  I met a lot of producers, vice presidents, presidents, art directors and all of them were playing the same game just using different words and offering different "fakeportunities". Game is always on in New York City. 
You might think if there are decent men in NYC. Yes, there are such men, but they are either already in relationship, or should be discovered like gold. Please don't make a "men rush":) These 'golden men" can be found in Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Long Island and upstate NY. Look for them outside of Manhattan.
Let me know if you find one!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Money, money,money always sunny in the rich york's world...

Money and the city. 
  The first thing they teach you  in sales is how to handle the rejection.  The first thing that you learn in NYC is how to accept the rejection and turn negative "no" into  positive "yes". When we are in school most of us get used to being accepted and approved by our teachers, classmates. When we are in a real world, we expect the same approval from other people: our colleges, potential clients, and if we don't get positive reaction from them we get upset. What happens when you get rejected many times?  let's say you are applying for a job and get rejected 100 times in a row?  Most of  people feel insecure, they start doubt themselves and their skills and abilities. They might retire into their shell, and stop trying. I'm telling you right now, it is not an option if you live in NYC! People get attracted by big city lights and screaming commercials portraying successful people. Yes, New York is full of opportunities and opportunists who know what to do with many different possibilities. It is possible to make a lot of money. How much do you want to make? Whatever is your number, just keep in mind that new yorkers always want to make "more". They want more money, more experience, more love, more challenges, more success. Do you feel you are strong enough to compete? Then read further. Learn from my experience.

My first job experience.
  I came to New York with a limited budget. I spent most of my money on a hostel  and rent. I had $600 left for food, transportation and some necessary stuff. It is nothing if you live in NYC. Monthly metro card costs $112. Food is expensive. And you have to give tips everywhere you go: you give tips to waitresses that serve you in a restaurant, you tip a taxi-driver, you give tips to a hair-stylist, etc. Once you walk out of your apartment, you start spending money. It becomes a habit. But what if you don't have money? This is a very unpleasant experience. There is only one way out of this situation - go and find a job! There are million of jobs waiting for you out there. 
Once I moved into my new apartment, I started looking for a job. I went on Craigslist. I was looking for a waitress position. Fast cash, good money. I found open houses in few restaurants in Manhattan, and went there right away. When I got to the first open-house, I saw a long line of people at the bar. There were more than 30 people applying for one waitress position. I filled out an application form, there were many questions about food, drinks and my previous waitress experiences. I never had one. So I marked none. The manager who was interviewing me, asked me two question: when I came to New York and what was my restaurant experience. When I told him that I came 5 days ago, he put on the mask "I'm-not-interested". He wished me good luck, and promised to give me a call if there are any openings. Promise in New York is like a fake diamond that shines bright but worthless, indeed. New Yorkers like to give promises and never keep them. For example, if someone promised to give you a call tomorrow, it doesn't mean it will happen tomorrow. It might happen 2 days after, or it might never happen at all. The second open house was hold in a fancy upscale restaurant in Midtown. There was a long line of young model-looking girls. First, I thought it was for a model casting, and I was about to leave when a manager came up to me with an application form for a waitress position. I was at the right place. Then I was invited to a different room. A well-dressed executive manager in his 50's was holding an interview in a private dining room. He was very nice with me and he was very interested to know about my life abroad. He didn't ask me any questions about my waitress experience. He was sitting across the table on a sofa bench. Suddenly, he interrupted me and asked me to sit next to him. I thought he couldn't hear me, and I moved closer. He asked me if I understood how big was competition for this waitress position, then he put his arm on my knee. I was speechless. I could have never imagined that it would ever happen. Especially, in United States with strict laws that protect women's rights. I got up and walked out. I wanted to get a job, not to give a blow-job. 
  Next day I got up early in the morning, printed 80 resumes and went to Manhattan. I walked into every restaurant asking for a job. I think this day I walked into every place in Midtown. Many restaurant managers told me that they were not hiring at that moment, and few of them promised to give me a call. By the end of the day I had no resumes left, I felt exhausted, and word "no" wasn't that scary anymore. I realized that I should never take rejection personally, and it is very important to move forward. As Napoleon Bonaparte once said: "think of your life as a river, the faster it flows the clearer it gets". The following day I went to more restaurants to apply for a job, in few days I got a waitress job right on the spot. I started making my first money. 
My next job opportunity was very unusual. While I was working in a restaurant, I met a producer from Hollywood ....

Friday, March 29, 2013

New York, I love you but you are bringing me down...

  Have you ever experienced the feeling of uncertainty in your life? Have you felt lost and depressed? Now imagine that you are experiencing the same feelings, but double charged with emotions of joy and excitement. It might sound strange, but that's how you feel if you live in New York City. One moment you can feel down and your life seems falling apart, and next moment something great happens (you get a great job offer, or you meet an amazing guy, or simply someone smiles at you on a subway) and you feel happy... Life in NYC is similar to a roller-coaster ride but with no seat belts attached to your car. So you never know when you are going to fall out.

 My friends who live in different countries always ask me questions about my life in NYC. Unfortunately, they can't come to live here for different reasons; thus, I devote this blog to my friends and to those who choose to live in this great city, as well as to those who have always wondered what it would be like. Let me be your secret source into a unique New York City life. Take it as a handy guide or just read it for pleasure. 

How did I start my "roller-yorker ride"? I came to New York at the age of 22. I was young, fresh, naive and inexperienced. I had great hopes and dreams. I came on my own with one suit-case and pair of pink glasses. I didn't know anyone here, and nobody knew me. That was exciting. It was freedom. Freedom was screaming from every corner presenting different opportunities. I came for three months that turned into years. Many people ask me why I decided to stay here and leave a good life in my home country behind me. To be honest, I am still trying to figure it out. Maybe good life is not just enough? And hey, I love New York. Of course, I  miss my home, I miss my lovely parents, friends, my dog and there are times when I  feel so homesick that I cry in darkness of the night when nobody can see me. I know that New York likes strong people, and only strong people can survive in its terrain and become successful. So let's keep my "night tears" in secret:) Here's my first successful story of finding an apartment in NYC.

Manhattan lights are too blurry...

Everybody dreams to live in Manhattan. But dreams don't always match with reality. When I came to NYC, I knew that I couldn't afford to rent an apartment in the city (New Yorkers call Manhattan “city'). I booked few nights in a student hostel and started looking for a place in Brooklyn and Queens. I found many listings on Craigslist in the section “housing/sublets/temporary”. Most of these listings were posted by real estate agents who asked for extra charges (three months of rent in advance). I also realized that I can only afford to rent a room. My budget was $1200. When you rent an apartment in New York directly from the owner or landlord, you have to pay 3 rents in advance, it includes first month rent, last month rent and a security deposit. You also have to show your salary history (you should earn enough money to pay monthly rent), you should prove that you have a good credit history. If you don't have such documents (let say you don't have a job, or you are fresh off boat), you can find a sponsor who can become your guarantor. This way you can rent an apartment under his name. In case if you fail to pay your rent, your guarantor becomes responsible for any payments. If you rent an apartment through a real estate agent, you have to get one year lease, and you should pay six months ahead for renting an apartment; plus you should cover agency fees. It usually costs a fortune. It is better to find a room. It is less stress, it gives you opportunity to find a good job, establish yourself, and there are no strings attached.( An average price for a room in Brooklyn/Queens is $600). I found few listings that I liked and scheduled appointments. My first site visit was in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. A guy in his 20's was showing me the place. He was a college student and his roommate just moved out,  so he needed to find a new roommate as soon as possible. It was a very nice 2 bedroom apartment. I had one night left to stay in hotel, so I didn't really have much time to look for another room. I decided to move in. When I was about to pay the deposit, I saw a huge snake slowly crawling from the guy's room. I screamed from the top of my lungs and started running towards the exit. I was afraid of snakes since I was a child. I remember running downstairs and screaming, this guy running after me trying to explain that it was his pet and it always stayed locked in his bedroom. Once I recovered from shock, I explained to the guy that I couldn't take this room. Hello! I didn't want to wake up one night spooning with a python. Brrrr! 

Next day I found a nice room in a student's apartment. It was close to Coney Island in Brooklyn, the place was great. I paid a security deposit and first month rent ( $1000 in total). My new roommates were two guys about my age and they were from my country. I felt at home. And that's where my adventure began. If only I knew!