Chapter 5:3 The Empress Hotel

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The Empress hotel would become my new home. It was August of 1994 when I left Angie’s house. The club that I was working in at the time was on the main floor of The Empress and I quickly made arrangements with the owners to stay there until I found an apartment. I had left Angie with less than $100 in my pocket. The checking and saving accounts were in her name, and I was leaving behind over $5,000 worth of personal items. But I didn’t care. I wanted out of that sick relationship, more than I wanted any of those material things. I wanted my sanity back. I knew that I could rebuild my life. I had started with nothing before and I would do it again.

The Empress was no vacation spot. The only people living there were people who worked at the hotel, and a few people who were on welfare. It wasn’t really even open to the public. The owners had originally planned on renovating the building but the club was in financial trouble so they had never finished anything other than the lobbies and the club. Anything above the first floor was a mess. The carpeting in the hallways was half torn up. You had to be very selective of which room you chose because of broken windows and broken toilets. The furniture in the rooms that we were staying in was made up of what could be put together after rummaging through the unused rooms to find beds and tables that weren’t destroyed. It wasn’t much, but it was now my home.

Staying at the Empress was a situation of dealing with life on the simplest of terms. I had begun working in two new clubs in Northern NJ in an attempt to break into the NYC market. NYC was where a DJ could make some amazing money. Sometimes in life, when we choose to do something, we have to be willing to do whatever it takes to make that something a reality. For the next 7 months I would be working a rotation that consisted of working 13 days straight, including two doubles and then I would have one day off. On that one day off, I would drive 3 and a half hours to visit with my daughter, then drive 3 and a half hours the next morning back to NJ so I could begin the next 13-day cycle. My visits with my daughter had to be drastically reduced while I was living in the hotel. The place was packed with drug dealers and hookers so I was not willing to have her stay there over the weekends that she was supposed to visit.

During my stay at the hotel I was constantly looking for new clubs to work in NYC and also for an apartment that was closer to the other clubs that I was already working in Northern NJ. I was driving an hour each way to the clubs and the workload was breaking me down physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Phyllis, one of the owners of the hotel, began to tell me that the hotel was in more serious financial trouble than any of us imagined. It was on the verge of being condemned and she knew that most of the people there had nowhere else to go. The place was insane. I came home one night to find the coroner taking a body out of the hotel. It was one of the former club patrons who had been killed in a drug deal that had gone bad.

It was the end February of 1995, and things at the hotel were getting worse. The furnace in the hotel was leaking oil so badly that it was turned off. The average temperature was around 30 degrees Fahrenheit and now we had no heat. Soon after the furnace trouble, the water was turned off due to the bill being so high. I was faced with a choice. Phyllis said that we could continue to stay there free of charge until the city completely shut the hotel down if we wanted to, or I would need to find another place to stay until my apartment was ready. I had found an apartment in north New Jersey, but it wouldn’t be ready until April 10th. All the money I had managed to put together since leaving Angie was going towards the apartment and new furniture. So, I decided to ride it out and stay in the heatless, waterless hotel. I had lived through Baltimore City Jail; this shouldn’t be a problem.

Due to delays on my apartment being ready I ended up staying a lot longer in that situation than I had originally planned. For the next month and a half, I slept under a mountain of blankets and took sponge baths in water that I bought at the local grocery store then heated in a microwave. Every night I would come home after work and wonder if I would even be able to get into the hotel. I would pull into the parking area and look at the lobby door to see if the city had finally boarded it up and I would have to sleep in my car.

It was around April 30th when I left the hotel for the last time and moved into my new 1 bedroom luxury apartment. What a change it was. I had gone from living like a homeless person to a gorgeous palace in one afternoon. It’s amazing how quickly your life can change. My preparations in life had made it so I was used to making sacrifices and using survival tactics. I had lived in jails, my car, and now a condemned hotel. It was time to get back on track. 

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The Warrior Sage Chapter/Section

Who Is Willard Barth?
Author's Notes
Preface - Exploring Strength And Weakness
Chapter 1:1 - The Process Of Self-Awareness
Chapter 1:2 The Stages Of Child Development
Chapter 2:1 The World Changed Forever
Chapter 2:2 The Vicious Cycle Begins
Chapter 2:3 Losing Faith
Chapter 2:4 My Dark Secret
Chapter 2:5 Where Is The Love I Was Promised?
Chapter 3:2 The Road To Alcohol Dependence
Chapter 3:3 Leaving My Childhood Behind
Chapter 3:4 Escaping Responsibility; The Joy Ride Ends
Chapter 3:5 Living A Duality Begins
Chapter 3:6 Out Of Control
Chapter 3:7 Crossing The Line To Insanity
Chapter 3:8 The Black-out Drinking Begins
Chapter 3:9 Facing The Music
Chapter 3:10 A New Beginning
Chapter 3:11 More Lessons To Learn
Chapter 4:1 The Final Party
Chapter 4:2 A Moment Of Clarity
Chapter 4:3 My New Life Begins
Chapter 4:4 Sober, Time To Face The World
Chapter 4:5 The First Year Of Sobriety 
Chapter 4:6 Major Change Comes In Year Two
Chapter 4:7 My Daughter Is Born April 20, 1992
Chapter 5:1 Life Changing Decisions Follow My Daughter's Birth
Chapter 5:2 Recognizing The Voice Inside
Chapter 5:3 The Empress Hotel
Chapter 5:4 A New Chapter In My Life Begins
Chapter 6:1 Finding My Way Home
Chapter 6:2 Falling Into Place
Chapter 6:3 A New Awareness
Chapter 6:4 Personal Finances And Personal Development
Chapter 6:5 The George Washington Story
Chapter 6:6 Letting Go So Others Can Grow 
Chapter 6:7 The Wrap Up 

Jump HOME from The Empress Hotel

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