How I became a zombie…

Between late spring to late fall of 2016, I realized that all the unfortunate events had turned me into a zombie because nothing kills me at that point. I guess that the well of tears inside my bodied dried up after some time, and my mind had developed a thicker and stronger walls to withstand the waves of job rejections. With each rejection, I was able to handle a lot better with it.

On the plus side, Goodwill was able to keep me after my temp period since the lady never returned from her summer break, but my part-time status remained. With my expenses exceeding my income almost every month, I remained in the job market.

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I just kept going.

Back in the day, I never would have imagined that I could handle even a dozen college applications…but here I am on my 20th job interviews and I still looking. Almost every interview I thought I did well, but the return call or email either begins with “unfortunately” or didn’t happen at all.
Every rejection was like a bullet in my body, but I kept going even though I felt so hallow on the inside as there was no sense of pride left inside me. Many friends and family recommended that I look outside of my profession and outside of my location to find a job, but they don’t realize that I actually had already done that, and it was even less response.

With all these rejections, I started to have doubts in myself and I even thought maybe I should go back to school to study something more practical. But then I thought about how practical it would be to go into student debt for a degree that is even more job-promising than marketing.

With the rejections pouring in, I lost a sense of pride and almost was smothered by the confusion. Still, one thing was clear in my mind; I had to just keep applying because what could I do otherwise?

During the meantime, I was working part-time and applying for other positions. My mom and I finally settled that Thanksgiving was when we would visit her and the rest of the family in Taiwan. ‘We’ in that sentence meant Hector and myself; if it wasn’t clear in my previous story, Hector and I got married, but my mom has yet to meet him in person.

Maybe I can apply for jobs in Taiwan….at least stay in Taiwan a little bit longer, I thought to myself.

Of course, when I told the idea to my mom and my husband, they had a strong aversion to it. Hector thought I was joking because we just got married, so having me working across the country from him was ridiculous.  My mom warned me how Taiwan’s economy was even more difficult, the wages were a lot lower, and there were less labor protection laws in comparison to America.

I was running out of ropes, but I had to keep going, and the only I could do was living on a prayer. Bon Jovi’s song never screamed so precisely about my life before.

Through the rejections I’ve been receiving, I realized that I was losing against other applicants because I was ‘less experienced.’ I was very sure that was the main problem a lot of the millennials were having too. Thus, in almost every interview, I always emphasized that–

I might appear to be less experienced compared to people who have been in the industry for 20 years, but I learn and adapt twice as fast and I can catch up in no time.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t open their minds that Marketing is about new ideas and a lot of the trendy technology and platforms only happened in the past 5 years and new technology will just keep popping up overthrowing the old ones, mobile marketing Social Media advertising to name a few.

There has got to be someone who could think outside of the box, I thought. Please God let someone see not how many years I have behind me, but my growing potential.

 

 

 

 

 

Sun rise sun set of 2016

Good fortune was like the sun in 2016, it comes and goes. My newly married life certainly had a dismal start unlike like others. It was not because we didn’t love each other; in fact, we love each other as we come together to comfort each other and encourage each other to overcome this hardship. There was no honeymoon nor wedding as we threw our investments in the purchase of the dream house despite all odds. With my stuff packed in boxes in Hector’s rental as we were waiting to close on our house, my dog being fostered at my friend’s place, my spirit lingered around that time and I still continued to wake up in tears. Nevertheless, with the help and support of my friends and family, I was finally able to see daybreak after a some period of gloomy shadows. I slowly nurtured my confidence back and continued to send out my resumes to apply for different positions.

My realtor friend Heather sent me an email that she received from a colleague she was working with at Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and CSRA. The email turned out to be a job lead, although the job was a part-time and temp opportunity. I started out really skeptical at first. Heather encouraged me to get my foot in the door for the possibility in advancement in the future as she slowly ignited the spirit within me. After responding to her colleague, I was able to get an interview later in the week and met Ellen. The interview was very casual and it went very well with Ellen wanting me on board as soon as possible before the lady who was holding that position leaves for the summer. Goodwill’s employment offer to me was a hand reaching out to me and pulling me from slowly slipping into abyss. Little did I know, that turned out to be the biggest blessing I had during that time.

I was informed that the temp position will end around August, once the lady I would be working for in her absence returns. It was around the end of April when I accepted the position, and I thought four months would be more than enough time for me to find a full time position.

Working part time also gave me an opportunity to spend sometime on unpacking and decorating our new house, in addition to doing some minor repairs. Never had I ever spend so much time being in side a house, let along taking care of one. I was able to enjoy some quality time with my dog after she returned from my friend who was fostering her over the rental and then moving period. Having time to make the house presentable made me more proud than ever when I have guests and family over.

My light at the end of the tunnel started running out however, my job hunt to no prevail was not showing any sign of improvement over the summer. Luck was like a sunshine, as the ray slowly distanced itself from me, it became brighter on Hector on the other hand. Hector was recruited by a head hunter, who informed him about a wonderful opportunity. Through a handful of screening and interviews, we learned that the position was not only local with  better benefit, but also it emphasized on further education. With his new job, it will definitely alleviate a lot of financial stress and burden off his shoulder. Furthermore, this job will help him to finally complete his education, which everything that we could hope for. Hector would be able to obtain a master degree in architecture and get his licencing.

The ray of luck slowly came back on both of us when Hector was able to get a week off for 4th of July. His new boss gave him a week to relax since he was able to start his new job right away after giving notice. We used this time to take a trip to Helens, Ga as our belated honeymoon.

I was able to enjoy the slow rhythm of the German village and their delicious cousine but it wasn’t long before I was woke up to reality.

Who would have thought six months later in October, I would still not have landed a full time permanent position.

To Securing one home

 

caged_core_by_foxsilong-d6w48f8Back at the beginning of the year 2016, I was filled with pride and confidence after obtaining a respectful and well-compensated job at a reputable company. Slowly but surely, my pride emerged a form of greed and arrogance that was seeping through my personality.

I felt that I was the leader in the decision to the home purchase process, and I wanted in on every part of it. Looking through our finances together finally for the first time in our relationship, I scolded Hector for being so much older than me but still making a little progress in his life. There were still a lot more steps for him to be come a licensed architect. Even though my motivation was to encourage Hector to advance himself in both finances and education, the way I deliver my speech was often condescending and judgmental.

With the path to buying a house forming in shape, I was deeply invested in researching every available option of finances towards our house. For once in my life I felt pride and I felt it growing at this moment where I will make a milestone to purchase the most expensive thing in my entire life. And then during that very moment, my ostentatious dignity instantaneously perished to ash as I lost my job and that jeopardize the mortgage application for obvious reason. This was far from the first time I lost a job, but this is the first time that I fell so high, and at this point in my life I had so much to lose. As a result to that, I could potentially looking at going back to the drawing board after all the progress we’ve made on this house hunt.

“We could still qualify for a loan on my income,” Hector said to me with a delighted face after he got off the phone with the mortgage consultant. “I know you might not feel comfortable looking at our finances, but if you want the house, we can have the house.”

After all these times I berated him about his finances and status, Hector still decided to carry all the weight on his shoulder for us and remained unfazed in his vow to make our dream come true.

We both agreed on going forward with the purchase of the house, but since that, I stepped down from being the hard-headed and overbearing decision maker. I told Hector, just give me a total cost, and I’d cut a check to pay him half of that cost.

For the first time in my lifetime coming out of an all-women household, I submitted to a man. I let Hector be in charge.

Based on his best judgment, he determined what type of mortgage to choose and how much down percent to pay,  in addition to handling the home inspection, seller, and bank appraisal. Even though it was my first time, but I had never felt so calm and guilt free about letting another person take care of me. I never doubt he would fail me.

Even though I was able to terminate my rental lease early at the end of April. Hector unfortunately was not able to do that at a reasonable cost. As a result, we tried to push the closing date as far back as possible to close on the house to around the time when the rental lease would be terminated. The best we could do was to close on the house in May and get out of the lease in July.

Five days after obtaining our marriage certificate, I moved in with Hector at his apartment at the end of April. I kept everything I had in boxes for a month and a half. I never unpacked my stuff until we moved again, which was when we closed on the house on May 19th.  The seller was defiant to fixing anything inside the house after the home inspection, but she agreed to contribute more money towards closing.

Later, the real struggle came to me. It only got more stressful from there, following after the lost of job, and became married…..two of the most stressful events of an average person’s lifetime – Moving and finding a career.

 

 

Searching through numerous houses

wind_vane_by_foxsilong-d8xq3ecAfter Hector proposed to me on Valentine’s Day, we agreed on buying a house together.

Initially, I wanted a house in Columbia County, under $150K, less than 10 years old, brick exterior, on a slab foundation, and a fenced in yard. During that period, Zillow was my holy bible and I was only focusing at houses with an increase in value in 10 years. Unfortunately, there were not many houses under 10 years old that costs under $150K. With our options running thin, Hector and I were constantly disagreeing and arguing. We sought family and friends for some advice, but the advice we received slowly started to back fire, and it became really busy and not really applicable since people were just sharing their own experiences from the past without comprehending what Hector and I want to do or our future plans.

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In addition to the complication of the house, the mortgage loan options, down payment and providers were giving me a headache. At that point, so far Hector and I agreed on nothing except the idea of buying a house. The house hunt was nothing but two magnets with the same magnetic pole.

After running low on options for houses in Columbia County, my realtor friend told me I should consider Richmond County houses. She said if I were to live where National Hills is, I could make a lot of money on Masters rental as she has done many times in the past. Even if the home was build older than 10 years ago, there was still chances of finding remodeled homes that could be as good as new.

The joint effort between her and Hector opened up my mind and I finally agreed to look into Richmond county, and within a few days we found a house we love and fell in love with it.

The “feel” walking into this home left us with a very positive, clean, modernistic impression. Walking into the house the first impression I received was open and refreshing. The  high ceiling with open windows allow maximum sunshine into the house to brighten up the living room and the kitchen. The house has all hardwood floor, which sparkled the sunlight above and gave the house a very modern feel. There were 3 bedrooms and there was a full bathroom for each bedroom. The house did not struck me as a 20 year old house at all.

Photos from Zillow

When we saw the images posted on Zillow, were were skeptical. The pictures were definitely staged, but having furniture as prop to show how the space can be utilized is not necessary a bad thing. We’ve seen houses where the photos look much prettier than the actual place so many times due to over embellishing Photoshop, but we actually visited the location and proved that it was not the case. We got a good look at the kitchen appliances and casework up close, and they were replaced 3 years ago and were still in great condition. Many of the other places didn’t even include half of the appliances this one did. They were honestly much better than anything else in any other home we’ve seen at this price.

The house itself has a smaller square footage inside, but that was the reason why it was such a great house for working class newly weds like us. Furthermore, the architect made excellent use of the area and it’s spatially interesting. A tall common room compartmentalized with the kitchen in a smart and efficient way, while the stairway provides an unfettered view of the public areas. It’s a well organized use of space, but not cavernous for sizes’ sake. In this case,  As an aside, we’ve toured some clunkers in the 1500+ SF range that had rooms in the outer corners of the home that just weren’t being utilized well.  We saw some rather oddly laid-out floor plans with multiple extra bedrooms all scrunched together and questioned their utility.

Initially I wanted to buy a house with a great resell value in 10 years, but looking at this older neighborhood I knew it would be a stretch. However, the location of the house was actually even better for my plans- I’m planning on leasing it instead of selling it. The house is in National Hills, walking distance to the Masters, in addition to being in a very convenient location to downtown, MCG, and hospitals. This area will be a great place to lease to students, golf tours, and contracted temp professionals.

The house was built on crawl space instead of slab foundation that I had hoped for, but I realized that I could use the walk in crawl space as a basement in case I need to store my personal belongings during the master week that if I were to rent out the house.

After submitted the offer letter, our offer was accepted with minor changes.

The same week I lost my job was also the same week we’ve decided to apply for a bank loan for the house that we were looking to buy. We were already pre-approved back in February, and we scheduled an appointment to officially apply for the loan followed by the appraisal, and to have a home inspection just mere few days before I lost my job.

When I left my job on the last day, I lost hope in everything, including my dream house.

 

When a gentleman insists

 

13029714_643819019108289_7246191915680920391_oSpring was supposed to be a beautiful time where flowers are blooming bright and new life is celebrated with warmth; nevertheless, spring of 2016 has nothing but dreary.

After losing my dream job, I’ve been going to bed in tears and waking up in tears. At night I have a fear of going to bed, and during the day I fear to wake up in the morning.

To my surprise, that was only the beginning.

Losing a job could mean that I’d not be afford to pay my bills and care for my dog or myself. My frugal lifestyle finally paid off at such a detrimental time like this, but literary paying off my expenses with my long protected savings account. I talked to the landlord’s assistant in tears; gladly, she was able to let me out of my lease.

Feeling a lot relieved, I stopped shaking, but it was only mere seconds before the next problem came up in my head-Where am I going to go next?

“I still want to marry you.”

Hector said to me as I sat lifelessly while a cloud of depression cast over my face with dried up tears lined up on my cheeks. Soon after I heard what he said, my eyes went watery again. It was beyond words that he still saw me as a beautiful, confident, and prosper woman when I was at such miserable state.

I still wanted to respect Hector’s wishes to not live in together until we are man and wife, but as my lease was broken with no funds due to a job loss, I was left no where else to go. We spent a few days drafting up changes to our life time plan and decided to just go ahead and apply for our marriage certificate, and postpone the wedding plan until I am in a better state. As we were still committed with our decision to get married, we continued attending pre-marital counseling with Hector’s dad, a long time pastor and a 20-year veteran. He understood the complication in our situations, and offered to cover the food and the facility of the wedding if we were to host it at his church in the future.

During the application process, we learned that we must have an officiant to sign our certificate after performing a civil ceremony. Fortunately, I got a referral for an affordable officiant after performing photography for a friend’s wedding. In addition, through my fellow photographer peers and acquaintances, one of them volunteered to capture the moment for me when I jumped the broom.

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On April 25, 2016, Hector took a long lunch break from work, and I grabbed the only white dress I could find in my closet; we gathered at the River Walk along with a handful of friends and family members and said our oath. My friend brought a bouquet for me as a surprise as she showed up.

Although the marriage came off as abruptly and was a huge surprise to many friends and family, we still received endless of blessings and accolades. In addition, we received bits and pieces of help from friends that made me feel grateful. It was truly heart-touching to see the support from everyone, and felt that I was not alone and someone cares about my well being.

However, the misfortune did not stop there, and it just kept coming.

 

Bright start to a storm

13048109_643819459108245_8067457833992919618_oLots of things happened this year. Even though we are only half way done with the year, events that have happened so far have been more life changing than my entire life time.

I tend to stay away from my diary when hardship hits because I want to forget the pain. Unfortunately, the more I’m tying to forget it by not writing it down, the more it circles in my head. On the other hand, due to the overflowing negativity in my head, I often overlook many thankful things and the moral lessons that I learned during this hardship.

It took me months to picked up my scattered emotions.  Looking back at these past events that happened after I have calmed down, I realized that literally, everything that I had wished for came true but ‘wishes come true’ also come with shocking twists.

Continue reading “Bright start to a storm”