Is This Some Sort of Joke?

That’s what I have been thinking for the last 2 weeks. I’d had so many bizarre and frustrating experiences that I keep waiting for someone to jump out from behind a tree or trash can and yell “you’re on candid camera”. I drafted a whole blog about the last two weeks but it was a bit too unbelievable and depressing so I deleted it and chose to instead share only some of my stories in the form of the “Top 10 Most Interesting Observations about Living in DC”:

10. Never say “never” because the city will change you. You already heard in a previous blog about my decision to wear tennis shoes with the suit during my commute—never thought I’d do that. But the one that surprised me most so far was my vehement assertion while still in Seattle that I’d never walk around the city with one of those carts (my sister calls them the “homeless person/elderly carts” if you need a picture of what I’m talking about). But after living here a month and having to do pretty much everything on foot (car is in SEA until the house sells and everything ships), I finally gave in and acquired the cart. Yes you are picturing this correctly—me in a suit with sneakers dragging a cart with my groceries or other purchases down the street. (except the day that I bought a suitcase at Marshalls and rolled that home with all of my purchases in it because I forgot the cart. I needed a new suitcase anyway 🙂 )

9. Coffee shops are full of good looking men on Saturday mornings who fit into one of two scenarios: 1-they are there with their beautiful girlfriend who likely just rolled out of bed but still looks AMAZING OR 2-they are ordering for two even though “number two” is nowhere to be found. I decided she is probably back home in bed waiting to be served breakfast. How nice.

8. You know that scene in movies where the woman is walking down the street in her suit and a car drives by and splashes her? That really happens. Except in real life if happens just after her brand new umbrella breaks in the pouring rain during her walk to work. I looked SO HOT that day. NOT.

7. Seattle needs more gentlemen. I don’t mean this in the context of dating (although that would likely apply too but I don’t know anything about dating so can’t comment)…I just mean that pretty much every man out here (regardless of age) has manners. They hold the door/elevator for ALL WOMEN, etc. In Seattle I always found it interesting how RARE that was to find. Aside from my best friend at work (likely the biggest gentleman I’ve ever met) and a few other male friends at work/in my community group, SEA was filled with men who had no problem letting an elevator close in your face, dropping a door on you, etc.

6.  Just because you follow a calling doesn’t mean life will be easy:  God certainly brought me here, is very present in my life and I am thankful for all the ways He continues to bless my life. However, trials are the norm for me lately. My house hasn’t sold so I’m paying mortgage/rent on both coasts. And my “favorite” week here so far was the week that I lost my condo in Virginia, received an offer on my house only to have the buyers back out 24 hours later, dropped the price on my house another 10% and had no showings (when I was previously averaging 5/week), was 10 hours away from being homeless because I couldn’t find a place to rent  as my temp housing in VA was coming to an end, got hurt when the Metro entry gate where you scan your card closed on me, got confused in the metro so missed my train and was late to work, was late to work again another day because my cab was 45 minutes late, fell on a lady inside the metro train during an abrupt stop, etc. That is just the tip of the iceberg but I will stop there. On the Friday of that week, the “F” key on my keyboard at work mysteriously stopped working. So very time I wanted to type an “F”, I had to reach over and hit it on my laptop. I’m convinced it was to ensure I wasn’t tempted to use inappropriate words when sharing my current plight with family over email.

5. The rental market is shady out here: I decided to get a 3 month lease until my house in SEA sells. But I’ve learned that most apartment complexes out here use a sophisticated software program that predicts the price of each individual unit daily and presents the prices online. Then you narrow it down to the places you want/can afford (SOOO EXPENSIVE!) and you get to the leasing offices and the prices are different—or people snatch them out from under you while you are in transit to view them. For someone apartment hunting mostly on foot, this was annoying. Also, most of the complexes steer phone calls through what appears to be one of 2 different tele-marketing firms. Each time you call, you get taken through a script of questions. The first time I thought the person was just really nice “Oh Amy, what brings you to DC? Wow…a move from Seattle..congratulations!”  But after the 3rd call, I wised up—they all say that. After about 20 calls, I got so sick of the 5 minute script that I’d say “I know this is a script and I keep re-submitting my information—can you please just give me the pricing and skip it? I won’t tell.” But they ignored me and kept on with the script. I was so frustrated. I also tried variations on my answer to see if they would be less conversational. For example instead of saying “I moved from Seattle for a new job blabla”, I’d shorten it to “I’m new in town” and they’d still say the same response which ate another 2 minutes. This was annoying since I was normally trying to get like 30 calls/day done in between meetings, etc. The only entertainment was when one of them would answer the phone incorrectly…”Hello–thank you for calling Ballston Commons—I mean Archstone Ballston Place”. ACTUALLY BUDDY, I’M CALLING VISTA ON COURTHOUSE.

4. One could possibly lose their mind attempting to rent an apartment out here: I realize I already talked about the rental market but it needs further comment.  I mentioned above my many “false starts” where drama always seemed to prevent me from getting a place. It was so traumatizing knowing I was running out of time that I (independent, decisive, control freak) had to call my sister and have her tell me what do to because I became incapable of making decisions. Here are a few of my “favorite” apartment-hunting stories: 

  • THE “CRACK HOUSE”. One day as the lease agent opened the door to show me a much overpriced, dodgy apartment, he warned me “this hasn’t been cleaned yet”.  I now affectionately refer to this as the “crack house”, because that is what it looked like. Broken glass, trash all over. Stuff spilled all over the kitchen. Grimy bathroom with a brownish tub that was supposed to be white if you get my drift. He assured me it would “be clean by Sunday” and offered to show me another unit just like it that WAS clean. That apartment looked fine–old and musty..completely overpriced for 533 square feet of ugliness…but clean.  I asked for that one and he said that it is $200 more/month because it is on a higher floor. OF COURSE IT IS (out of my price range and now officially more than my mortgage in Seattle). As I left the building, I couldn’t help but wonder if that first apartment would EVER feel clean to me since I had seen it so dirty. The answer ladies and gentleman (acknowledging I may be a tad pretentious and need to pray that I “get over myself”) is NO. 
  • THE “SPIDER PLACE”. Then there was the place that was a 15 minute walk from work and still “2 star“ in my book but priced comparatively well. During lunch, I went to look at it and thought it would do, so walked back to the office with the agent to sign the lease. Then she looked at her computer and said “oops..that just rented online while we were upstairs.” Puzzled, I asked her why she didn’t hold it since we were looking at it and she told me “we don’t do that” but offered that they have a 1BR available for $400 more a month. OF COURSE YOU DO. I told her I was confused and needed some time to think, but was worried the same thing would happen again if I left. So she said “Oh I can hold it for 24 hours for you”. WHAT?? OK–I’M NOT EVEN GOING THERE. She took me upstairs to look at it and I kept saying in my head “swallow your pride, humble yourself..this is ok..this is clean and fine..your days of luxury living are over and that is okay…perspective Amy, perspective…” so was ready to say “I’ll take it!” when I saw a HUGE (golf ball size) spider on the bathroom wall. (I know what you are thinking—suck it up. But don’t judge until you have walked in my shoes—an incident in college with between 10-20 spiders in my bed = me traumatized forever in the spider department. And yes I’m choosing to ignore the fact that I’ll soon be going to Africa for work and there are tarantulas there. I wonder if I can take a “Spider Therapy” class.) So after that, even though intellectually I know it isn’t true, I was convinced the place is going to have spiders if I rented it. My boss told me she could just picture me sitting in my overpriced, empty apartment on my air mattress with a helmet and a fly swatter on spider lookout for 3 months. (she offered to come spray the place if I moved in…she’s so cool)
  • THE “SHADY-ACTING HIGH BROW PLACE”. After numerous false starts and the realization that my money could only rent me very creepy places since 3 month leases were jacked up ~$400/month on average, I decided that I was just going to suck it up and get a 6 month lease somewhere (better quality places available on 6 mo terms) and pay the extra $/month to get into a nicer place that I’d feel comfortable in. When I called my favorite building to schedule an appointment, they told me the apartment they had quoted earlier in the AM for a “good” price (i.e. that extra  $400 I was willing to go up) was now gone but they have a studio for about the same price. So my boss and I went right over, but when we got there the leasing agent said that they were mistaken–the studio actually wasn’t available and that only a 1BR was (another ~$500 on top of the price they quoted me for the studio!) RIDICULOUS AND UNAFFORDABLE. So we left.

3. Mars Hill Seattle is a special church and there is nothing like it. I’ve visited many churches here and they are all very nice places filled with the Lord’s presence. But I haven’t found one like Mars Hill yet —I miss it greatly so my search continues.

2. No matter what, I belong at IJM. Now I can say that twice in my life I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work for great organizations at the top of their game.  First Microsoft, now IJM, where I have an incredible boss, a great team and amazing colleagues who care about each other not just professionally, but personally too.  Everyone has their eye on the goal: ending modern day slavery–freeing 27 million people from forced labor, sexual exploitation/trafficking or other forms of oppression. And I get the sense that something big is on the horizon because the Lord is bringing people with amazingly convergent circles together on this topic. There is so much to do and I’m glad to be part of this journey. I can see more clearly every day that my marketing skills (and the skills of others) will be put to good use on this mission, and I cannot wait to see where the Lord is leading.

1. God never abandons. I would only giving you half of the truth if I just stopped after telling the stories above about my tough few weeks. I have been under enormous stress from all of the bad news and drama lately (proven by the migraines and clumps of hair I find on my pillow each morning), have struggled with loneliness and the realization that I have to start all over and pretty much have no friends here yet, etc.  And I have to admit I’ve even taken it out on a few people without intending to (ex. I was really nasty to this guy the other day that thought I was trying to steal his cab and I am still sad about how I treated him) which added “regret” and “shame” to the list of things I had to feel horrible about. But even amidst it all, the Lord gently reminds me that He is here—whether through little blessings (such as a call or email from a close friend/family member  just when I needed it) or large ones (such as an apartment better than I “could have ever hoped or imagined” when I had just 10 hours left until I had to leave my temp housing). Every time I want to lose it and break into tears, I am reminded of the truth:  that God is always with me…that He forgives me for the selfishness and ugliness that spins me into pity parties that lack ZERO perspective on how bad my life REALLY COULD BE…that I am SO INCREDIBLY BLESSED even in these trials…that He has sent me here for a purpose and has no plans to harm me…that none of this is about me anyway.  So no matter what each day brings, I’ve committed myself to never closing my eyes at night without pondering all of the things I am thankful for. God is good—all the time.

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~ by amylucia on October 18, 2009.

5 Responses to “Is This Some Sort of Joke?”

  1. 1. i love your honesty and really just enjoy knowing all about your life. 2. i can’t get over the cart. still in shock. yeah, can’t say much b/c i am stunned.3. i would really really really like to know how people from seattle (or whoever is far away) can support you through this. you need support! this sounds hard. don’t just pull up your bootstraps. tell us if you need something (besides prayer). 4. i will put a note on my laptop to ask God everyday for an apartment for you.5. i love you!
    kels

  2. You are blessed in many ways and you spill that blessing over on to those around you. I totally know the feeling of being in a new city with no friends. It sucks! The storms in life that we face seem like they are too big for us (and sometimes they are). When these storms come it just requires that you press in to Jesus more for your strength to weather the storm. When Jesus calmed the storm He was asleep. Can you imagine that? He had to be woke up and they cried out “Save us Lord; we are perishing” (Matt 8:25). Like they would really perish with the Lord asleep on a pillow in the stern of the boat? He awoke and said “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matt 8:26). He then rebuked the winds and sea and they marveled at that. It seems like in our worst time we cry out to Jesus to save us but all the while He is right there. We just have to press in to Him and realize He is never going to forsake us. Amy please “…do not be anxious about your life…: (Matt 6:25) “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Matt 7:7). You are a child of God and are truly blessed. Continue to press in to Jesus for strength and rejoice in His forgiveness.

    On another note check out Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This is CJ Mahaney’s old church and might be a great place to check out. Also remember my sister lives there and has an empty basement bedroom (and an extra vehicle) so if you ever get in a dire situation again PLEASE just let me know.

    I love you beautiful girl, hang in there and know that I am praying for you.

  3. friend i love you and miss you SOOOOO much!! you make me laugh, and i want to cry because of what God has done in your life (mine too!). isn’t He amazing? i can’t help but praise him for the incredible work he is doing through you, and we know that he will be faithful to complete what he has started.

    “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philipians 1:3-6

    love love love you, miss you a ton…let’s pick a date for me to come visit 🙂

  4. Hey Ames – love the blog – just caught up on all you posts (slow day at work!). Kel and I will be praying for you and we are excited for you. We will be praying for your apartment/condo situation and for new friends and new peace in DC.

    Jason

  5. Amy thank you for your humor, your perspective and your willingness to let us share in your journey. You are NEVER alone NEVER. many of us respect you and know jsut how talented, determined and hard headed 🙂 you are. keep looking to the future, keep moving forward, you;re changing lives. Blessings.

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