• Gina Micek

Nine Houses: Lowertown Lofts – An Era of Change 2012-2014

 

 

 

Gina Micek June 2012Gina Micek June 2012

 

2012

 

On the world stage, in spiritual circles, 2012 held a lot of weight. Leading up to the “big year”, were reports the world would end, a big polar ice-cap shift would occur, the day would turn dark and all non-enlightened souls would disappear to some other dimension...

 

I'd heard it all and watched the YouTubes. In my life, on the third floor, we prepared for the next big thing. My temp job at Citizens League turned permanent. I finally had benefits. I commuted to work across the alley from LL. A feeling of "have arrived" permeated my existence. I got to network with a lot of influential folks in the Twin Cities. I belonged somewhere and had community.

 

I felt close to some major breakthroughs and read a lot of Abraham-Hicks. My friend and I attempted to save money by getting more into cooking for ourselves. I bought a few cookbooks and we had grand plans to cook meals together and make lunches in advance as well as freezer meals. I bought a bunch of stuff to do it. In reality, I still didn’t care enough about food or cooking to make it last. Buying groceries without a car was a chore. Or I’d run out of money, get tired or just want to go out and have fun.

 

I bought some business cards and thought I’d make money running Access Consciousness Bars or doing Akashic Record readings. I’d get a few clients or do trades, but nothing really came of it. I’d imagine spending money on advertising or a website, if I could just get my head above water long enough.

 

Community

 

Lowertown’s summer festivals and Thursday night music became a staple that year. The music was amazing and the community even better. Live (and free) Jazz, Blues, Bluegrass...Mears Park burst forth with cacophony of delectable sounds and diverse talents from all over the world. An eclectic framework upon which to heal and co-create a better future.

 

I made the decision to finally bring my stuff from California during the summer. I ventured home in August, packed up the things I felt I needed. Boxed the rest for charity. No doubt a sense of euphoria invaded my space. I had Paid Time-Off and I could prove that I could make it work in the Twin Cities.

 

Belongings packed to move to MSP from CaliforniaBelongings packed to move to MSP from California

 

Things may have been shaky financially, and I couldn’t pay all my bills. I loved someone who was dating someone else. I had a lot of opinions about it. In the meantime, I got revenge by making my own quasi-sacred connections. Biding my time until everything fell into place and magically resolved. Mostly,it was a chore and a calling to heal others. I didn't feel I had a choice.

 

Outside of my best friend with whom I continued to do healing work, I got into the bicycle community that is so vibrant in the Twin Cities. 30-Days of Biking and the Freedom from Pants ride hallmarked a new wave of social acquaintances, festivals and crazy antics. I found intoxicating liberation in taking off my pants and wearing a bikini or bra and panties with a gang bike contingent in even fewer clothes.

 

Dancing at Club Jager and other venues like First Ave’s Record Room. Dealing with the darkness that I felt pervaded the cities. Darkness that was outside of myself – entities, forces outside my control, negative people. Internally, I desperately wanted approval and love. This constant feeling of “not good enough” pervaded my existence. Why was I in this place – the Twin Cities – if the right guy didn’t notice or care; the people didn’t get advanced spirituality; I had to hide my true nature or not have friends; my money situation never took off; I continued to ask for money each month from my parents and no one would hire me for more than what I saw as minimum pay.

 

The spiritual community that did exist in the Twin Cities suffered from an extreme case of poverty consciousness. Most of them couldn’t stand corporations and eked out a living with businesses or odd jobs. Facebook posts about bad employers and people who took advantage, or some calamity or other which befell them, were not uncommon. Myself included.

 

Freedom From Pants Riders, July 4, 2012Freedom From Pants Riders, July 4, 2012

 

 

 

Freedom from Pants Ride July 4, 2012Freedom from Pants Ride July 4, 2012

 

Personal Life

 

By the conclusion of 2012, the big move over, the job’s honeymoon phase well past, a growing dissatisfaction with waiting for the guy to “figure himself out.” I decided to make this big all-encompassing announcement of singularity. In a letter. “You just don’t deserve me or get me!,” may have been the theme. Not sure what I expected to have come of that. Perhaps undying devotion or a revelation. I didn’t need men! Except I was lonely and sad and doing it felt strong for only about 2 minutes. The shaky ground I was on, soon to reveal itself as the New Year dawned.

 

 

 

2013

 

If 2012 had this context of euphoria and arrival, 2013 was categorized for me as a year of major upheaval. First off, the healing we were doing and the questions I was asking the Universe were leading to something unexpected. Change. We think we want change, we ask for it, we beg for it when things are hard and then when it happens we are like, “No I didn’t mean like that.”

 

This is the one thing I have been made aware of and experienced directly, change does not happen in the way we imagine it will and often it is not the comfortable version we created on a vision board or wrote down. We don’t always understand with the mind a cause and effect. We fight it because it doesn’t seem to overtly solve our problem in a nice tidy way.

 

Change is by definition, nonlinear. Except, I maintained a belief in control and perfection during this time. That was the hard part. I feel now that I was blinded by this to the opportunities. My internalized shame and trauma, had me justifying, finding fault, and turning it in on myself.

 

In February, things started breaking down at the Citizen’s League for me. I couldn’t explain it. A job I once loved was both boring to me and upsetting. Changes made to administrative aspects that probably were in the best interest of the non-profit, only added to my issues. My job functions were unceremoniously taken away and others added. I later learned that was normal for non-profits – the budgets are small, and people are required to be adaptable. I wasn’t quite interested in the direction we were taking and most definitely not adaptable. I took things personally.

 

 

Dana, the bartender at Trattoria da Vinci 2012Dana, the bartender at Trattoria da Vinci 2012

Before I could even think of looking for something else, the situation blew up and I was out the door. The job paid $18 an hour minus the cost of benefits. The benefits I hardly ever used because I couldn’t afford the deductible. My unemployment was $9/ hour. I was already living beyond my means most of the time.

 

I took this hard at first. I may have had to cut back on going to Trattoria when I had to pay my phone or cable bill, but I also didn’t really cook. I didn’t enjoy cooking. It felt like a chore. I was tired. I preferred the noise and bustle. I felt alone and afraid and being out helped me avoid these feelings and assuage them simultaneously.

 

I also liked creating situations where someone else would pay for some or all of my drinks and food.

 

The banging and the closet

 

I remember one particular week in which they were installing what I assume were pylons for the electrical cables into the ground around the lightrail construction. It involved banging and drilling. My job hunt was stalled. I hadn’t had an interview. I didn’t have money. The constant loud banging of the machines was repetitive and loud. There was nowhere to go. This was all day long for days in a row.

 

I was on the phone with my friend crying in my walk-in closet at the apartment. Snot and tears coming down my face. I wanted to die. The walk-in closet was the only place you couldn’t hear the jarring noise quite as badly. My bones shook.

 

St Paul reflecting change

 

The old Gillette building, long an eyesore, was torn down to make way for what would by 2015 be CHS Field, a local baseball park and event facility. West 7th was going through its own transformations near the Xcel Center, home of The Wild Hockey and a concert venue. Buildings that once housed government offices or art studios were quietly (or not so quietly) being bought up by land developers and turned into luxury apartments.

 

While this transformation process happened slowly over many years, we knew our sleepy little town was becoming something else. At one point a Northern Lights art installation showcased street performers lamenting gentrification. Protesters attempted to stop the sale of the JAX building where artists had long-time studios. These voices were interesting and perhaps provocative, and yet nothing we did slowed the pace of creation.

 

Internal Transformation

 

Anger about the job loss and long period of unemployment, with even more restricted finances gave way to a drive in me to find solutions. I can’t always say they came from an altruistic place. I donated to Citizens League but only because I wanted to be annoying. Despite the fact I hadn’t really wanted to be there anymore I was still angry that I didn’t choose the ending date on my own. I was angry I couldn’t do much and that I didn’t feel normal.

 

I was using chiropractic care and acupuncture to assist with my immune system. I spent money on that instead of food some days, or instead of rent.

 

Work and self

 

As the changes proliferated through downtown, my friendship’s deepened both at the curling club and with residents in Lowertown. New faces moved into the building and surrounding buildings. Our Trattoria hang-outs got bigger and more boisterous. By the end of 2013, as summer turned to winter, we were socializing together frequently. I changed temp agencies and picked up what was supposed to be a long-term assignment at Catholic Charities in Minneapolis. It lasted less than a month. According to the over-controlling and domineering CAO, I wasn't Executive Assistant material. Later, I got a short term medical relief position at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities in downtown. It paid $15 an hour.

 

Financially I was tanking and fast. My parents were increasingly upset that I "couldn't keep it together and couldn't keep a job. Why had they spent money moving me if it was going to be like this..."

 

The pressure was mounting. I decided to do something about it. I was going to go back to school...the folks at Trattoria may have been the first to hear of my plans. One day, while researching business schools all over the country, I saw an ad on a bus in front of the apartment. St Catherine University was starting their new MBA. Within a few short weeks, I'd obtained my transcripts, written an essay and applied. Would I get in? That was the answer I didn't know quite yet. I just knew something had to change and it had to be BIG.

 

 

 

 

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