CHAPTER ONE from my SOON TO BE PUBLISHED NOVEL!!
A $TREET NOT HER OWN
@copyright Citygirl Juliana Jones 💕💋
Email now to be invited to the book party 2021! 🎉💰💋
“There is in every one of us, even those who seem to be most moderate, a type of desire that is terrible, wild, and lawless.”
— P L A T O, The Republic
THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND
It was Martin Luther King weekend, my least favorite holiday, and it never seemed like it was going to end. It was a weekend where everyone went away; they went skiing in Tahoe or took private jets to Aspen and I was left out and left behind. I didn’t ski and never enjoyed those large social extravaganzas, so I stayed home. Alone. And this wasn’t any different than how I felt on any other day, because I always felt left out and left behind. But what really made MLK day so unbearable -- was that the markets were closed.
The stock market.
I couldn’t trade.
I sat at my computer in the heart of the Marina
district in San Francisco, and looked at my dead screen.
It wasn’t flashing red and green, a million stocks weren't moving across my screens, driving me, propelling me, seducing me to buy and sell and make money over and over again. I lived to trade. It was my passion, my bad habit, my secret affair.
I needed nothing else. For to be alone, hidden away from the world, and to make money was pure bliss.
I moved back home to San Fran when I was 24 years old, nothing was working out for me, I had just graduated college, my boyfriend was attending medical school in Houston, and I tried living there with him, but was
bored and took off. I went to New York and took a job on a trading floor where I was an assistant. It was wild and I loved it, but I was
never moving up in the world, my rent was sky high, I was making jack, so went home to San Francisco, where my dad, sister and brother lived in Sausalito, and I enrolled in grad school. That bought me time.
Because at least I was “doing something,” with my life.
But it was during grad school, when I really started to rip it up trading. My brother Troy had a knack for it; he always seemed to be on the inside and had some good picks. But Troy was in and out of rehab and unreliable. So I had to study harder, read harder into charts, become better at it on my own. I spent all my days and nights finding good trade set ups. And when I found one and I bought in, it was better than
sex, it was a wave you just wanted to ride and ride…
I started out with $4,000 that I saved from a part time job I had helping an elderly woman. I opened an Etrade account, and right out of the gate, I was riding momentum stocks; stocks that were trending and moving up on
high volume. It was easy; almost too easy. I was active in all the stock message boards; stocktwits, Wallstreetbets. And then I found I liked volatility the best and started traded derivatives, going long, betting on a market crash. People thought I was crazy. You never
went long the Vix because volatility decayed and went down. The ETN's traded like stocks and during the crash of 2020, I was long TVIX at 12, I kept averaging down on my losses over and over again over two years, and then in March of that year — it hit $1,000. I sold too early at 405, who can ever time these
things perfectly, but it was the trade of all trades. My account skyrocketed up to $400,000. I felt rich. My plan was to triple that and be a millionaire. I was 27 years old. But Jerome Powell came in and ruined everything; he flooded the market with so much equity, it ricocheted up higher at record levels. I was short and lost everything, -- my account dove back down to $20,000 in a matter of two months. Etrade took away my margin money because you needed a minimum of $25,000 in capital. So it was over. I was devastated. It was a good
run, but like anything good in life, it always ends too quickly. I stared at my decimated portfolio and had put everything into a
cheap marijuana penny stock: Sundial. Bought it at .6554 cents. I was in the red in it for a while, but finally,there seemed to be life. All I needed was for this to hit a buck and
I’d be back. Back to trading.
But what happened? Just as I’m feeling good about things and the stock is no longer in the red, the company announced a shelf offering
right after the close, BEFORE A THREE DAY WEEKEND, which meant they were releasing more shares and diluting the stock; the float was already huge, and now it would take an army to rocket this thing higher. Sundial gapped down 10% at the close and I was worried sick where it would open, not Monday since it's a holiday, but Tuesday,
and time was just standing still.
Simply put, if this goes to zero, I lose everything. And what would I do, who would I be, if I couldn’t trade?
I looked out my window and saw a homeless person across the street. They were lying in a sleeping bag in the doorway of another apartment building. I watched as he opened a can of what looked like fruit and
started to eat it. My gaze drew upward and I saw the majestic mansions of Pacific Heights. Right at the top was the biggest one.
It was white and pristine and the home of famous author Danielle Steele. I’d always stare at her house and wished I was her. A
writer. At the top. In that house. Then I heard the cry of the homeless man and looked back down at him again. The economic divide in this world was getting bigger and bigger. The
middle class was gone, and I felt it, too. I was a few months away from being homeless. I needed a job. I needed to stop trading. I
couldn’t live like this any more. I needed job security. Problem was, I never fit in anywhere. I had problems. With people.
I got bored. I never felt challenged enough. Trading was the only thing that challenged me in any real way. Even men didn’t challenge
me anymore. One look at them and I could tell what they were all about;
their movements, their energy. I was an ace at summing up a person.
And I could do it in seconds. The same way I’d sum up a stock.
You come to understand its patterns, its movements. Figure out its weaknesses, then strike. When does the stock trade lower, what time of day? When does it spike? Buy low, sell high, easy peazy, but not when there are a million other factors manipulating the market on a daily basis and, it’s really not so easy. I never liked to hold a stock overnight. Just the same way I never wanted to get involved in a
“long term relationship,” with a man. Because like a stock, here’s what happens. You’re excited – you've found a new stock! You want to invest. This one looks like a winner! I purchase it. I buy in and get filled. And at first, it’s great. The stock starts trading higher. I'M up!
Maybe 4, 5 percent. I keep watching the stock and am enamored with it. Then, like a relationship, you start to see things you
don’t like. The stock starts to trade down. Now maybe you are even in the red. And like in a relationship, what seemed like the perfect guy,
you find faults with. You become annoyed, bored. So what do you do? Work on the arising issues? Or cut and run to another man,
maybe a “better man.” So if you sell the stock, you take a loss. Now your account, which was
once say $10,000 is now at a loss of $9,000. You find another stock pick – and you buy in again. And Again, it’s exciting! New! It’s going up! You’re almost at break even from where you were before! But then, like that
other idiot you were in a “relationship,” with – you start to see flaws, you get bored, annoyed. The stock is trading flat. It’s not
going anywhere. So do you cut and run?!
Now what?!!! And what happens when this happens over and over again!?!!
This was my history with stocks and men.
I was down and out.
I needed to change. The only way to win in the market was to buy quality names and
hold for the long term. There were no quick fixes. No fast money. Ride out the downtimes. Same thing with a relationship – ride out the problems. Stick with it. Because they are every where and with everyone.
But who the fuck wanted to do that?
* * *
Two weeks later, I am interviewing at ABLX Securities.
And three weeks later, I am working on their trading floor. I am an
assistant to all star broker, Monique Levine.
Let the games begin.
* * *💕💋
HOW I BLEW UP TRADING APPLE 🍏 OPTIONS
I went long AAPL calls Monday morning August 24, 2020. I broke all my trading rules. 1. Never buy a stock at its high. 2. Never buy at the open. 3. Don’t trade in August or until the market has a clear direction 4. Set a stop loss. 5. Never go all in; average in.
But I bought the August 28 AAPL 530 calls right at the open. I go all in and get printed high @8.71. The high.
I had studied Apple over the weekend; it was about to break out over 500 and the split was coming and all my charts, stats showed the stock was going to run.
What could possibly go wrong?
It’s Apple. The most talked out, profitable company in the world. Everybody was trading it. Including my friend who works at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. How can she know more about stocks than me? I was previously a Senior Vice President at Morgan Stanley in New York. I covered hedge funds in an equity sales capacity. I was licensed Series 7 and 63. When she told me she bought Apple at a 52 week high the summer of 2018, I kept saying, “It’s too high. You’re going to get burned.”
But she wasn’t burned. She was up over 100%. Even after the market collapse of early 2020.
I wasn’t a buyer and holder of stocks. I had seen too much. Besides, I liked quick, fast, easy money. I traded volatility and that was a whole different story, but let’s stay focused on the Apple trade.
So Monday morning, I never expect the stock to open so high at 513. I had multiple accounts and I bought 100 contracts in one and 50 in another right out of the gate. My account was down to its last $100k because I was short after March 2020 and got burned thanks to Powell flooding the market with so much liquidity.
But with the 10 times profits you can make on options, I could be at over a million dollars in no time, I tell myself!
That was the plan. And I am the queen of plans.
My options were filled way higher than I wanted but my account jumps from $111,000 to $122,000 in SECONDS.
And all I think is this is going to be good…
I should have jumped on this train a long time ago...
And I’m watching …and its a rush and I’m making bank.
Until suddenly Apple drops 10 points within seconds. It breaks 500 and my account is disintegrating before my eyes. It drops so fast, I can barely fathom what is happening.
I can’t breathe.
I wait. I take the little money I have left in my account, and I do what most people wrongly do on a losing trade. I average down, It’s known as the MORON TRADE. That’s piling MORE ON to a losing trade.
I buy more contracts.
And the stock begins to climb.
It looks like I’m out of the woods.
I now have a $7,000 profit.
Too early to sell, I tell myself.
I want more.
I always want more…
I take a shower. I’m writing a book and need to get cracking on that. When I come out of the shower, Apple is trading higher at 509, but my profits HAVE CRACKED IN HALF.
I’m now only up $2,000!!
This isn’t good, I realize. This is the decay they talk about in options.
I have been asked before a thousand times: “Why don’t you just trade options?”
“Because options expire worthless,” I’d reply.
WHY DIDN’T I LISTEN TO MYSELF?
MOST OPTIONS EXPIRE WORTHLESS!
But not mine. Mine won’t. Because I’m different, I’m special. It’ll be different…FOR ME, I tell myself.
Monday ends up being a bad day. The stock is a behemoth. It takes so much pressure and volume to move it and all I can feel is that it wants to go down.
I’m all in a stock that I never bought and I never liked. I’m holding at an ALL TIME HIGH. I didn’t even like the company, I believed all of this technology was ruining people’s lives. I could go on and on, but I won’t. Because it doesn’t matter.
I’m here to tell you what happened to me.
Apple closes down at 502 and I hold it overnight. I’m down over 50%. Maybe more. It’s hard for me to look at this point. My $111,000 fluctuated between $122,000 and $59,000 with these options and it was a rollercoaster ride.
One I wanted to get off.
The stock went up after hours and I thought everything would be fine.
But I didn’t sleep because I kept watching futures.
At 1 in the morning, someone posted that Apple was trading at 111 in the overseas market. We were all overjoyed. Our calls will be saved! We will live to trade another day!
I finally fall asleep and I wake up 4 hours later. I grab my phone and check pre-market. Futures are up and Apple is red, down 3 points.
EVERY TIME I HAVE EVER CHECKED APPLE IN MY LIFE, IT WAS ALWAYS GREEN, ALWAYS UP.
And as soon as I buy it, it turns.
Isn’t that always the case?
I feel sick.
I watch the open.
If I there ever was a time I could give back one trade – this would be it.
All traders should have one chance at a DO OVER. A redue. That one bad trade they could give back.
But I open my Etrade account and my balance is $42,000. I am fucked.
The stock is dropping.
How could this be happening?
Apple only went up. Didn’t it?!!
I can’t breathe.
I have been in this situation before. I’m on my last shred of patience. Between the quarantine and being so isolated for the past six months, my day trading has gone off the rails. I weigh 90 pounds. That’s very thin on a 5” 5 body. I study trading 18 out of the 24 hours of the day. Because my car is dead from not driving it and I have no where to go anyway, I walk to the grocery store for food. I tried Instacart, but who wants to pay $5.99 for a package of Oreas? The groceries are heavy and I lug laundry detergent and liters of water ten blocks home. I am only able to buy what I can carry. My arms are ripped from carrying these bags. (pun intended; the grocery bags and my trading bags) I am sunburned because my only escape is to jog 10 miles on the beach everyday. It hasn’t been the easiest summer or year for that matter. Maybe even decade, who knows.
But some days are great.
The days that I am winning.
The days that I am making $3,000 – $14,000 a day trading. I am God. I have everything I need and I am winning.
But the days I am losing, it’s hell.
Pure, unabridged, hell.
I don’t have that much money to begin with.
I was putting my unemployment money into my Etrade account. And the stimulus checks.
I didn’t know when I would work again.
Things were pretty bad no matter which way you sliced it.
And my world got small. My friends; it was hard to talk to them sometimes. Usually in a friendship, one calls the other with good news or bad news and you listen and console or congratulate them and buy them dinner! But now, everybody was in the same boat. Everybody was sad, depressed, worried. Nobody could go anywhere. Nobody had any good news. The conversations became fewer and farther between.
Trading was my life.
It had always my life. But now it was really my life.
I watch as Apple goes lower.
I’m not getting out of this alive, I realize.
I call Etrade and I’m on hold for 40 minutes. I see there’s a way I can “roll the options,” but have no idea what this entails. I need more time. Like I said, I never trade options. This thing needs to jump by Friday or it expires worthless! I’m in the August 28 calls and I have everything riding on this.
As I’m on hold, Apple starts to rise.
There’s hope, I tell myself.
I hang up. Screw Etrade. I’m a trader, I remind myself. I know exactly what I’m doing. At all times.
I decide to take a shower and come back to it in a few minutes.
I do and the stock goes lower.
My account is now under $30,000 and dropping fast.
I call Etrade again and wait another 30 minutes on hold. I am praying I get someone smart on the line. Someone who knows what they are doing. Someone who has answers. Being that I worked on a trading floor and most of my work was done over the phones; I had a very quick read of people within the first 5 seconds of talking to them on the phone.
A guy finally gets on the line. He’ sounds young, but he’s calm and poised.
What I do next is something that I never do.
I can’t help it.
I start crying.
The conversation, from what I can recall, goes like this: “I don’t know how this happened. How can $120,000 get wiped out in less than twenty-four hours? I can’t lose this money. What are my options?”
On these options that are blowing up.
He stays calm.
He doesn’t make fun of me.
He doesn’t laugh, he doesn’t yell.
He doesn’t say, YOU STUPID, STUPID IDIOT,. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
But I’m embarrassed and ruined. “It’s APPLE,” I say, “how can this go down? If I roll the contracts, will that buy me time? What about the split – will the split help the contracts by doubling?”
I’m grasping at straws.
He can hear it in my voice.
I hear him breathe on the other line. His voice doesn’t change. He’s steady.
Thank God for this. Thank God.
He is the life jacket right now and I am drowning.
I am blowing up. Bad.
He puts me on hold.
Apple ticks up. It’s trading at 495 now. But
I BOUGHT CALLS AT 512! AT THE ALL TIME HIGH!
I wanted to die. And this wasn’t the first time I felt this way trading.
He gets back on the line.
Now I can hear his voice shaking.
“Umm Juliana, yeah….” He begins, “Ummm well, it looks like… basically….”
I hold my breath.
Give me something.
Give me something, anything.. Please.
“Basically, the split is going to impact your options, it looks like, in a negative way…”
I tune out for the remainder of the call. I watch the stock and its dropping and every second we are on the phone debating this, is another second I lose more money.
Apple trades at 494 and every time I hit refresh on my “APPLE iPad,” (how perfectly maddening) my account fluctuates up and down $3000.
On what’s now only $26,000 left.
I ask, “What’s the breakeven price I need to get to on Friday to get out of this?”
“Let me figure that out for you.”
I wait. I should know this myself.
But I can’t even begin to figure it out because I’m so panicked. I can’t imagine what I’m going to do for money if I lose everything. I can’t imagine how I’m going to survive. What’s worse was, WHAT ON EARTH WILL I DO ALL DAY LONG IF I CAN’T TRADE?
He gets back on the line. “The options look like they need to hit… 537 Friday.”
No way in hell was Apple going that high by Friday. Unless there was a miracle. And I needed one now.
The whole market is red and it looks like it’s rolling over. Everybody in the SPY message boards was saying that the market was so TIRED, it’s spent. GOING DOWN. And always in the back of your mind, every trader wonders, is this the beginning of the crash?
Because we all know it’s coming.
But until then… Ride it out…ride it out for as long as you can… And don’t be the last one out the door.
I needed to make decisions.
If I wait to sell and the options don’t hit 530 Friday, they will expire worthless.
I will lose everything.
My account will be zero.
If I sell now, I can walk about away with $26,000.
“Can you sell for me? Can you just get me out of this with $26,000?”
I didn’t think I could do it myself.
But I knew the rules. By the time he walks me through the long verbal DISCLAIMERS that he needs to read to place the trades, I will only lose more money. It will take too long. I had to sell this second. This trade was getting further and further away from me.
I think pretty much I just blacked out after this.
The moment reminded me of that day at the Veterinarian’s office when my cat died. I was with the Doctor and it was time to put him down. I begged and pleaded, “Please Doctor, I don’t care how much it costs, can you please just keep him alive a little longer?”
I paid and paid and paid until the money didn’t matter anymore. It wouldn’t save my cat.
That was this day.
I remembered as I stared into the Doctors eyes watching him as he shook his head at my debilitating grief. He was quiet and soft spoken, very similar to this Etrade guy, and he said, “There is nothing more we can do.”
And I hear the Etrade guy go, “There’s nothing more we can do, Juliana, if the stock continues to go down.”
I was reliving that day.
The saddest day of my life.
When the doctor told me this at the Vet, I took my cat outside for one final goodbye. We sat on the curb on Sunset Boulevard and he was in my arms and I cried and cried.
I got up and brought him inside so the doctor could put him down.
And then it was over. It was the worst moment of my life.
Now I was putting my account down.
And as all this is happening, I realize the Etrade guy is no longer on the phone and I am crying again.
He had left me alone to end my account.
The same way the doctor did with my cat.
I hit the bid and click, “Execute trade.”
And it’s done.
My account is dead.
* * *
The rest of the day, I am in a daze. I call my best friend in New York. “I’m coming home,” I tell her. “I lost everything. I need to get a job. I need to get my life on track.”
The idea of this rattles me. The idea of going back to work after making thousands with the click of a mouse for years and years and being around people I probably won’t like just pushes the knife further into the wound.
I try to put a positive spin on it. “My Dad,” I keep saying, “He will be glad to have me home. I’ll just go back to work. I can make good money…” Doing what, I didn’t know. I wasn’t exactly a “worker among worker.”
She agrees and listens.
We are on the phone for two hours.
I haven’t eaten. And I haven’t slept.
And now, I can’t trade.
“It’ll be good for you,” she kept saying.
When we hang up, I can’t sit alone. I need to call someone else.
I call another friend, Bonnie. She’s older and a mother figure to me. My mother was abusive. This came into handy while working on Wall Street. You couldn’t knock me down. The fight was always, “You got me this time, Mr. Market, but I’ll be back. I will come back and I will win.”
As if somehow, if I beat the market, I would get my mother’s approval.
Only it never happened.
And if it did, it was fleeting.
This was the same pattern. Lose money, blow up, go back to work. Amass enough when you can trade again. Blow up. Rinse, repeat.
On every level.
Bonnie, asks, “How’s it going?”
But I can’t speak.
She told me for years I had a “gambling problem.“
But I’d tell myself that I was A TRADER. I’d remind myself that I CAN AND DO BEAT THE MARKET.
ON A DAILY BASIS.
And TODAY WILL BE NO DIFFERENT.
But today was different.
I blew up.
WHO LOSES MONEY ON APPLE??!?!
I start crying again. She’s never heard me cry. You can punch me and knock me down, but I’ll get up bruised and battered and beatened, but I always rise again.
But I had no fight left in me now.
And I couldn’t keep living like this.
My life was contingent upon: am I up or down?
Did I make money or lose money?
And the truth was: it was never enough. And this was how I lived.
On the edge. Always on the edge.
Because could there any other way?
I’m going to stop trading, I’d tell myself.
The market is untradable.
It’s too manipulated.
I will hold off.
This lasts a few days.
Or maybe a few hours.
All I know is that before long, the mouse is back in my hand and I am winning again. I am winning until I am not.
I take more massive hits.
I pump more unemployment money in and get my account back over $100,000 by nailing Sundial, it was a 7 bagger.
My goal was to make $1,000 a day trading.
And then I realize I can make even more if I start trading Apple calls. Out of the money Apple calls.
Because Apple only goes up? Right?
So as my friend is asking me, “What happened Juliana?” I know she is going to rip me a new one when I tell her.
“I lost it,” I say.
“Everything?” she asks.
I am speechless. She knows I trade. And the shock and misery rolls over me like a bulldozer.
“What do you mean, everything?
“My trading account. I blew up. Down to $25,000.”
She says, “Well, you didn’t lose EVERYTHING, you still have $25,000 left.”
And then I feel hope.
I CAN TRADE THAT 25K AND DOUBLE IT, TRIPLE IT, AND GET MY ACCOUNT OVER A MILLION DOLLARS!!!
I CAN GET MORE BANK LOANS. I CAN JOIN ONE OF THESE TRADING COMPANIES LIKE MAVERICK TRADING AND TRADE WITH THEM… I CAN COME BACK!
I ALWAYS COME BACK!
And suddenly, she says, “So what you’re really saying,, is that you hit a bottom in your gambling addiction.”
And there it is.
Her words sink in.
We talk more.
At the end of the conversation, she asks if I know of anyone who has a gambling problem and suggest I reach out to them for help. And if you don’t know anybody who blew up worse than you have on Wall Street, you’re not a real trader.
So I call my friend Dave and it’s like he was expecting my call. He has taken me to some of his Gambling meetings before and I loathed them.
But what I hated more was what I had become. It was me and my trading, my writing, the beach, my cozy apartment.
I got what I signed up for.
I was living the dream.
I HAD GOTTEN WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED!
But truth was, I running a small $100,000 - $400,000 account and I was obsessed with it. And was trying to make it go back to $300,000 or $3,000,000 even worth this?
When would $3,000,000 need to be $30,000,000?
What was I contributing to the world?
I felt sick.
I couldn’t go on.
So for the first time, I admitted, “You’re right. I have a problem. I will stop trading. I will get help.”
* * *
The next morning, I wake up and the first thing I want to do is check futures. I wonder where Apple is trading and if it’s higher and if I held on, would I have gotten out alive?
Or would I be left with nothing?
But I don’t check. I wonder if I should take out bank loans. But
I can’t look. And I can’t go there.
I feel sick and have no energy.
I need to reinvent myself.
I need to get a real job and make a living. I need a routine and I need to be in the flow of life.
Maybe this is the best thing to have happened to me, I think, I don’t know.
Am I embarrassed? Sure.
But there isn’t anything anyone can say to make me feel worse than I already do. I have scraped the bottom of the barrel and have found that small hole. I have fallen through it, I was in free fall and crashed hard.
Maybe reading this will help somebody.
I can’t say for certain that I will never go back to trading.
But I think I have to try.
That is of course, until I find that next winning trade. 😎
Don’t give up my fellow traders! Better days ahead!
Yours, Citygirl 💕💋
To see some of the losses and trades, click here:
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This is a work of fiction. All the characters and occurrences herein are the product of the author's imagination. Though real life locations feature as settings throughout the work, the incidents that occur herein are exclusively fictional. Any similarity in characters or events to real life people, living or dead, or actual occurrences, are coincidental.
Copyright, Juliana 2019