Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Should I Stay or Should I Go

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Total Black: $1,112.96
Total Red: $230,119.21

Total black today includes my earnings from the Recession Art Sale.  I am now an accomplished, and paid, art seller!  I had hoped that my gig money, like donation money received, could go straight towards my debts, but with the Rent Demand from the landlord, I might have to use that money to get current.  I get paid on Friday, so I might be able to “rescue” those funds from the landlord, but only if I net enough to cover September’s rent.  October’s might have to wait a week and November’s is just nine days away.  On second thought, maybe I need to dump all of my available income on rent.

The hassles of the past few days have got me wondering what my next steps should be.  As the song by The Clash asks: “Should I stay or should I go now? If I stay there will be trouble.  And if I go, it will be double.”  Of course, I’m referring to New York City.  And by going, I mean back to Pennsylvania.   See, this time last year I had just been laid-off.  I learned about it the same week I was searching for an apartment.  The previous place I had in Brooklyn was only a sublet and the renter decided, after twenty years, to give up the apartment.  I was told the landlords were turning the apartments into condos, so I wouldn’t have been able to stay on.   So, I needed a new place. I think the synchronicity of those two events passed through my mind, but there really wasn’t anyone home at the time.   Plus, in retrospect, I don’t think I had an inkling that the economic fallout would last so long and hit so hard.

Again this year, I’m in a similar situation.  The launch window is opening again.   My lease ends on October 31st and, though I’ve already signed the renewal, given my two-month delinquency on the rent, I doubt the landlord would really push back much, if at all, if I asked to get out of it.  I’m just not sure what to do. I like New York. Plus, from an employment perspective, there’s plenty of opportunity here, especially in the legal field.  But financially it is really tapping me dry.   If I didn’t have rent to pay, I’d have an extra two thousand dollars a month to put towards my debts.  I’m only licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and New York, however, and now sometime soon in Pennsylvania.  And moving to Washington, D.C. or Philadelphia would just mean rent all over again and possibly reduced employment opportunities.  So the only place I can live for free is with my mother.

In Mothers I shared a bit of my frustrations about moving back to Pennsylvania to live with my mother. That entry, however, doesn’t capture as much as I thought it did.   The reference to “Grey Gardens” still rings true. I do wonder whether my mother might be beckoning me home not solely for my own well-being, but perhaps, in part, for her own.   If I were to return to Pennsylvania, even that I’ve now passed the Pennsylvania bar exam, I just don’t know what I would do there for money.  Then again, in Hang a Shingle, I toyed with the idea of letting a businessman sublet my apartment for two nights a week, and in return I’d head back to Pennsylvania to stay with my mother for those few days.  I could very easily join the commuter crowd and work in the city but live back home. It takes just over two hours to get to the city.  I’d have to be up around 6am to catch a 7am bus, arriving in the city around 9:30am.  That’s typically when people start work. And getting up around 6am isn’t that early. Then I’d catch an evening bus back—let’s say 8:30pm, arriving at 11pm—and then off to bed.  If I were working at this contract attorney position and living with my mother, I certainly wouldn’t have to pay two thousand dollars a month in rent.

The flip side to all of this is that I’d be living to work.  A five-hour daily commute on a bus would wear me down: emotionally, physically, and psychologically.  But as I noted in Hang a Shingle, this year of getting out of debt won’t be without its struggles.  Maybe I could sublet my place for a few months?   Perhaps I could just give it all up and move back with my mother and cut my ties to New York all together? Not sure what to do.

So come on and let me know. Should I stay or should I go?

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