Ah yes, this story … finally here is the ending. See, when I write I have to get in the “zone.” No noise, no outside influences. 2006- 2009 were some of the worst years of my life- in a very literal sense, I hit a wall. A big one. This relationship was the catalyst.
First off, I would suggest reading the entire story though so it all makes sense. Particularly the last bit since it has been a few weeks in-between.
June til the beginning of July of 2007 were mostly spent in a daze. I went from being intensely angry, to elated at the new found freedom, to depressed at the lost of my friend. What am I doing with my life, I thought.
I was working in sales at the time for Verizon for an indirect master agent, so fortunately managing 80 accounts throughout Southern California kept me running around from place to place, but eventually I had to stop.
I can’t do this anymore, I cried on the phone to my mom. I keep running and running – and now I’m exhausted. Make it stop hurting, I sobbed.
I’ll come for a visit, she said. We don’t even have to talk about Noah, but how about you and I just go and do some FUN things!!! Let’s go be tourists in your own city! How does that sound?
Through the sniffles and the tears the word – yes, came out.
That 4th of July weekend my mom came out for a visit.
Upon arrival she brought champagne … let’s TOAST she said bringing out two big wine glasses from the kitchen. You’re a Friel, and you’re fabulous. If Noah didn’t see that, fuck him – someone else will.
Our glasses clinked and before we knew it, the bottle was gone and we both fell asleep. (Have I mentioned how cool my mom is?)
I woke up the next morning, to the sound of screaming.
What?! What?! What?! I said!
Jennifer, you have a bug problem.
Oh, mom, I know. It’s just a few roaches here and there – it’s city living, what can I do about it.
No Jennifer, I’m serious. LOOK!
She points to our glasses that had less than a sip of champagne in each and there were 3 dead roaches floating in mine, and six floating in hers.
Jennifer, you have a bug problem. If you’re not going to do something about this for you, think about your dog and what he must be exposed to. <tangent> Everyone in my life calls me Jen, btw – but when my parents were angry at me as a kid, they would call me JENNIFER. And not just Jennifer … like normal, nice sounding – this was J-ENN-IFFFEERRRR, enunciated to the very last syllable. </tangent>
I listened, went to my management, and a few days later wound up having my entire apartment condemned due to a massive cockroach infestation. (Read more about that here)
I never posted the actual pics, but I do have them from the lawsuit, and all the videos … here is a pretty tame one, but just so you guys can see how big these fuckers were. These shoes are size 6.5 …
Take that one roach, and times it by over 100,000. The board of health duderino, Sam, said it was one of the worst cases he had ever seen.
Cockroaches are gnarly too because they get into EVERYTHING. One little sack from them can hatch hundreds, so even though my things were not destroyed in a literal sense, I wasn’t allowed to remove anything from the apartment due to the possibility of sacks, or even other roaches picking up the scent.
I remember talking to Sam and then walking downstairs to the garage where my car was parked, and I WAAAAAAAILLLLEEEEDDDDD. To this day, I don’t think I have ever cried like that.
I had called my parents to tell them exactly what the board of health had said, and the words couldn’t even escape my mouth.
I felt like someone had punched me in my stomach – I screamed like I had never screamed before dropping my blackberry on the ground.
First I lose Noah, then a few weeks later all of my belongings?
I’m a good person, I screamed. I’m a good person!!! Why do these things keep happening to me!!!
I’m a good person, I screamed.
A good person …
A good person …
I don’t remember how long I sat in the garage or whether or not I even called my parents back. I just know that sometime later I called into work requesting a personal day, and went to sleep on my friend’s couch (whom I had been staying with during the entire ordeal).
I stared off into space that entire day.
Losing everything you own is a very weird thing to experience. Especially in this case because it wasn’t like everything went up into a fire and ceased to exist – everything I owned was still there, I just couldn’t touch it or remove it … everything was gone.
Yearbooks, family albums, heirlooms, clothing, jewelry – all in all the inventory lost totaled over $100,000. (Mostly out of super fancy and expensive family pieces. I had a mirror from like the 1800s, and stuff I had won on the Price is Right.)
There is no going back, I thought. I can only move forward.
Unaware of what exactly to do, but determined to get my life back together, I focused strictly on my next doable actions.
Step 1: Find an apartment.
Step 2: Buy clothing.
Step 3: Buy bed & furniture.
Out of sheer luck, a studio apartment in my friend’s building opened up later that week. I slapped down a deposit, and reclaimed space of my own. Moving into the new space was a breeze – I had very literally one box.
I cannot stress this enough – I very very very literally lost EVERYTHING that I owned. EEEVVVEERRYYYTHIIINNNNGGGG.
I was only able to move ONE BOX of things from the apartment strictly because they had been in sealed tight bins, and I had a couple of outfits of clothing that happened to be in the trunk of my car from being a road warrior (you ALWAYS keep extra clothing in your car when you live on the road. You never know when you’re going to end up needing to go to a fancy pant meeting or anything).
One box … I had ONE box. <tangent> Oh and also, the second week that I moved in a co-worker was murdered. It’s played out in the press for the last few years as it was this big scandal here in California. He didn’t “technically speaking” murder her – drugs were involved, but he failed to get her help. You can read more here, I just googled and apparently the duderino did strike some plea. But that’s what the last line in my journal says handwritten “a friend was murdered later that week.” </tangent>
Through another case of sheer luck, a guy two floors above me happened to be moving to San Francisco and needed to get rid of all of his furniture. $1,000 bucks for everything, he said. We just need it all to be gone, we leave tomorrow.
I looked around at his decor – it was ALL my taste. He had pots, pans, a couch, chair, MASSIVELY HUGE TV, basically all of the bare essentials that I needed for an apartment. Dudes, the TV alone was worth more than a grand, super duper awesome deal.
I was working in sales at the time, so I was fortunate enough to have an extra grand to throw down for a deposit, but ANOTHER grand to buy all of my things wasn’t in my budget. Fortunately, my parents helped me out as they were as equally shocked and devastated as I was that something like a cockroach infestation could happen.
EVERYTHING. YOU. OWN. GONE.GONE.GONE.GONE.GONE
I got settled into my new place pretty quickly. It was great having my two best friends living downstairs, but every day I was reminded of my loss. Every time I went to go and look for a shirt, or think – OH! I want to find that picture in that album … I would realize it was gone. I cried for weeks.
Then, sometime around Thanksgiving things calmed down a bit. I started to get into the groove of my new life, and I started to rebuild myself. I didn’t talk to Noah at all during that time, not out of being “strong” or wanting to move on – I was very literally just kept incredibly busy. Noah didn’t exactly exert a lot of compassion when I left the hospital, nor anytime I had been sick or anything – so to expect him to be sympathetic during a time like this was just stupid.
Then, one day, I came home from work early as traffic had been particularily bad (I had decided to finish off my day from home). I don’t remember the day of the week, but I do remember the time of day – 4:30 pm. I came home, took my doggie Rocky for a walk, then brought him back upstairs as I walked to the groccery store to get some yogurt for dinner.
The walk to the groccery store was less than 10 minutes, but as I was walking back into the building, yogurt in hand – one of my neighbors stopped me from walking in saying there’s a fire – GET OUT NOW!
HA HA very funny, I thought. I was just here, I said. It’s fine.
He continued to run outside, and I walked into the building and heard nothing.
No fire alarms, I said outloud. God, people in Hollywood are just … weird.
I walk up the two flights of stairs to my floor, and the second I reached the hallway I could smell fire.
OH FUCK! I thought!!! He’s right!!
WHY AREN’T THE FIRE ALARMS GOING OFF, I SCREAMED!!
FIRE FIRE FIRE!!! I started banging on my neighbors doors as I ran down the hallway to grab Rocky.
Remembering back to kindergarten, I first placed my hand on the door knob to see if it was warm – it wasn’t.
I open the door screaming for Rocky to come see his mama.
Rocky!! COME HERE NOW!!
He leaps in my arms.
I now realize I am being presented with a test in life. You know how people ask you all the time if your building was on fire, and you could only take what you could carry – what would you keep?
I looked around at my apartment at the furniture that I had recently adopted, looked over at all of my tech gear – even my BRAND NEW macbook pro – and I wanted nothing to do with any of it.
In that moment, where I could have lost everything … AGAIN … I only grabbed my dog, his leash, wallet, cell phone, and charger, and health insurance card. Everything else is noise, I thought. This is all I actually need.
I closed the door to my apartment prepared to say goodbye to everything yet again. Let’s go, Rocky – we still have to get out of here, I thought.
I could tell the fire was on my floor, but our building was MASSIVE (the size of an entire LA block). I ran back down the same stairs I came up, and by the time I got outside there were at least 20 other people there as well.
Why weren’t the alarms going off? I said
People stared at the building in shock, you could see flames coming out of one of the apartment windows.
Fire trucks then came screeching up the street. We all stared in shock at the firefighters went to work.
I called my two best friends that also lived in the building to give them a heads up. Like everyone else, they were in shock too.
Fortunately for me, the fire was on the other side of the building, but unfortunately for my friends – their unit suffered horrific water damage.
Once the fire was put out they were allowed to go back in, but the fire department made them keep these massive fans going at all hours to dry out the halls and inside the apartment.
The fans remained for weeks, and instead of letting it get us all down, we of course, just played in them and posted the pics on Myspace …
Later that week, I also started working for one of the founders of Myspace and his start up, LiveVideo (read more about how that came about over yonder) so of COURSE the very first video I made for the site was a tour of the damage from the fire. (Watch it over here, it’s ridiculously bad quality – but you get the idea.)
It took the fire for me to truly understand life’s ridiculousness. Who loses everything they own in a massive cockroach infestation to only a few months later have the possibility of the life you have started to rebuild suffer yet ANOTHER loss by fire.
I couldn’t help but laugh and feel incredibly proud of myself for being given this test of wondering what to take if this was the last moment of having material things – and understanding that all I needed to do was to take care of my dog, and myself.
A lesson like that is heavy for anyone – but to experience that at 22 was a trip.
Things will come, things will go – you are not your things.
A few more weeks went by, and before I knew it, it was the holidays. That year I had booked a flight to go back east to see my family, fine for me – but who was going to take my dog?
Rocky and Noah had an incredible relationship. Rocky really came out of his shell when he met Noah – he is DEFINITELY a dude’s dog.
I called Noah for the first time since we had broken up. It went to voicemail.
Hi, it’s Jen. I’m going to be headed back east for a week, I was wondering if you could watch Rocky while I’m gone? I know he misses you, and I’d appreciate not having to pay to have him boarded. Let me know! Thanks!
Two seconds later my phone rings back. It’s Noah.
I’d love to take him, he said. When can I pick him up?
Wednesday, I said. I leave Wednesday.
Great! See you then!
<tangent> In another twist, Noah had actually asked me to buy Rocky while we were still dating. It was super weird, he just turned to me one day when we were laying in bed and said he wanted to buy Rocky. I was like dude! This is my baby! You’re his dad, but you can’t have him have him. He’s so cool, he would say. I understand, but he’s my dog. Just enjoy him. Who offers to buy your dog when you’re in a relationship? That was just 100 levels of weird. </tangent>
I gave Noah my address, and before I knew it, Wednesday had arrived.
This was the first time I had seen Noah since we had broken up – I was INCREDIBLY nervous.
What to wear, I thought … what to wear.
He’s only coming here to pick him up, so casual. I’m going to the airport so super casual.
I put on a tight tee shirt, and some sweatpants slightly showing my stomach without being hoochie.
I check myself in the mirror – yes, perfect!
There’s a knock at the door.
I looked through the peep hole.
I take a moment before opening the door, you can do this Friel, you can do this.
I open the door. Hi, Noah.
OMG I think, he looks amazing.
He hugs me. Hello, Jen.
He then brushes past me quickly calling for Rocky.
Wait, that’s it? I thought. Okay okay Friel … keep it up … stay strong.
Noah goes to the ground to pick up Rocky as he comes RUNNINNNNGGG from the kitchen and into his arms.
I close the door and turn back around and I hear Noah scream.
AHHHHHHH!! he said
Rocky just fucking peed in my eye.
WHAT?! I say holding back the laughter.
How does that even happen I say chuckling now no longer able to contain anything.
(Rocky did do a lot of submissive peeing when he got scared or excited. Clearly he was INCREDIBLY excited to see Noah, but this was just fucking hysterical.)
Let me grab a towel, I said as I continue laughing all the way to the bathroom.
Good dog! I thought!! FUCK YES I love that goober.
I hand Noah a moist towel. Are you okay I ask sincerely.
Fine, damn this dog of yours.
Thanks for watching him!
Yeah yeah, he said as he reached for the door and walked out it grabbing his bag of goodies (treats, food, wee wee pads) on the way out.
I close the door laughing HYSTERICALLY!!!
OMG OMG OMG I have the greatest dog ever.
After the holidays, I came back to LA and went over to Noah’s to pick up Rocky.
How was he, I asked.
Fine! He’s a great dog, he said.
Our eyes then locked, and for the first time since we had broken up, I genuinely felt this moment of remorse. I can’t describe it, but the way he looked at me – there was something there.
Does he still have feelings for me, I thought? No way, he hates me – he legit thinks I’m bat shit crazy. He can’t still have feelings for me.
We hugged one final time, as I thanked him for watching Rocky. The entire ride home however I thought about his expression.
There was something there. It was in his eyes. What the fuck?! It’s been MONTHS!!! Would I ever want to get back together with him? It never even honestly occurred to me since so much has happened to me since we broke up. Would I ever want to get back together with him? OMG OMG OMG it was in his eyes!! He felt something!! He STILL feels something!!!
I got back to the apartment and had a shit eating grin on my face. He still has feelings for me! Omg! Omg! Omg!
A few more weeks went by, and work picked up. LiveVideo had officially launched at that point, and I was brought on to host a series of live shows during the week for 4 hours at a time. <tangent> That shit takes talent, man. You try talking for 4 hours straight BY YOURSELF, staring at a green dot on the computer. Fortunately, there was a chat – and I could put other people on cam when I had to go pee, but it was a really gnarly job. </tangent>
Guys would ask me all the time in the chat if I was single. Yes, I would proclaim. Single and ready to mingle! RAWWRRRRR!!
In an effort to draw in more viewers, I would post the liveshow link on Myspace and Facebook – and one day a mutual friend of Noah’s and mine came into the chat.
Upon entering the chat they used their real name, so I immediately recognized it.
DUDDE!!!!! so so so stoked to see you come in! Welcome to the madness that is LiveVideo, I said jokingly! See! I’m totes not doing web cam porn!!
<user1>: Jen! I don’t have your number anymore, but I have something to tell you.
What, I said live on camera.
<user1>: Noah is going to be a dad. He and his girlfriend are having a baby.
I read the words on the screen, but my face went completely blank. There I was .. working … live … on camera … all around the world … finding out that the guy that I was questioning if I was still in love with was going to have a child. It wasn’t just that this was happening – it was that I WAS LIVE ON CAMERA TO HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD WHEN I FOUND OUT!!
I started stuttering, and said the show is over, I have to go.
I slammed down my macbook pro, disengaging the camera and started sobbing.
I placed my hands over my face and fell to the ground.
A child?!?!?! I screamed. A CHILD?!?!?!?!?!
My brain went into total shock, and not knowing what to do – I instead decided to document my feelings by creating a vlog so I could rewatch it later, and hopefully process some of the feelings.
This video was absolutely never. never. NEVER. intended for the world to see, but I found through writing, or creating videos that my life ended up taking an artistic component to it where I could express what I was feeling, rewatch it to process it, and then release it. That was something I never experienced in therapy, and was very literally the only thing emotionally that ever helped me get through things. I needed art now more than ever. I hit record on iMovie …
I then spent the rest of the night editing it, adjusting the filters – etc.
(The only thing I added to that video was the titles. It is completely unedited. And was never ever ever intended to be shown to anyone.)
I watched the video hundreds of times. Over and over and over.
It somehow made it easier watching the person on the monitor feel the pain. It was dissociative for sure watching her go through this – and me being able to relate but not experience it as deeply. It was as if the person on the monitor absorbed all of the pain, and I was left in the wake forced to move on.
There is no going back, I thought. Noah has moved on, I must to.
Do you know how much therapy that would have taken for me to come to that moment of clarity, btw? I was PERPETUALLY someone that wanted to hold on to anger and injustice. In my mind, I normally would have processed that as yet another reason why someone proved me wrong, and how fucked up the universe was – and how horrible my life is.
In that moment, because of lifecasting, and because I was able to make that video and re-watch it processing my emotions with each viewing – I moved on. That entire experience became something tangible that was there … and no longer just inside of my head.
I then rang in 2008 with a new determination to start over … fully … and instead of feeling sorry for myself for losing everything that I owned, and suffering tremendous heartbreak I would move on.
I grabbed my best girlfriends and we then all went out to ring in 2008 in style!
We went to an epic party in Hollywood, and later that night I went home with a guy that was later featured in an episode of The Real World.
Yep, that happened.
The sex was meh – hahaha oh and my fake tan got all over his shirt, and I’m pretty sure ruined it. Whoopsies.
So, there you go nerderinos! That’s my story an I’m sticking to it. Noah and I became friends on Facebook, although I have since unfriended him in the writing of this story (not my style to rub shit in people’s faces). Noah now has a beautiful girl, a wifey to be, and apparently if rumor is correct another one on the way!
Noah and I were two very different people on two very different paths that met at a very difficult time in both of our lives – and now, I’m happy for the kid. I loved Noah, and I’ll always love Noah. You will never ever ever catch me saying anything bad about him, because he was great for who he was and what he was capable of expressing. People just are, and we are all just being. If something doesn’t work out with someone it’s not anyones fault – it’s more a matter of different folks different strokes.
I wish Noah nothing but the best on his budding family, and every day I am grateful for lifecasting as had it not been for this art form – I don’t know how I would have gotten through that very difficult time.
Lifecasting is INCREDIBLY selfish and self indulgent, but it works. I’d be doing this if not a SINGLE person ever read or watched anything … and in fact, I have been in my journals that I’ve kept for my entire life. I need to write, I need to express – it’s in my soul, and lifecasting is one of the most important relationships I have in my life. Guys may come, and guys may go – but by documenting my thoughts in real time I am able to fully understand my state of consciousness and am able to not only process what I am feeling, but am able to process those emotions faster. Dudes, look how dramatic I was in that video. It makes me cringe! But it was, and that’s who I was at that snapshot in time. If you had asked me at that time though if I was dramatic I would have sworn up, down, left, and right that I wasn’t! I was a victim of all of these “random” events happening to me. It wasn’t my fault!!
HAHA now I laugh – I’ve spent almost 2 year THROWING myself at situations, and never once having anything end dramatically. No more fires, no more infestations – I now attract the awesome, and attract more than anything hilarious adventures. But it was me, it was the energy I was sending out. Now I’m ready for my next adventure, my next relationship – and we’ll see. I can’t imagine a guy being excited about the notion of dating a lifecaster, but only time will tell. Just going to keep on keepin’ on!
Whoop whoop! Thanks for reading everyone!!
And remember … leave all your love and your longing behind, you can’t carry it with you if you want to survive.
PS. Rocky has spent the last two years staying wit