Still Standing......Barely

Often, I find myself inspired by something said or done, a piece of news, or just a daily occurrence to write my pithy observations and share the hard won wisdom of the past three years. But working 80 hours a week is not conducive to writing these things down. Basically, I am hard enough pressed to put two intelligent sentences together when confronted with a direct question in personal conversation. I think that I am in total meltdown, and to top it off, I am feeling decidedly oppressed. I am guilty of working my butt off (not literally, unfortunately), and I am guilty of really trying not to be "that Person". You know, the one who is always whining and crying poor mouth. I have tried to maintain a positive mental outlook, viewing each day as a new opportunity, and despite all that, my reward appears to be that life is still firmly on the downhill luge run to financial oblivian.

I am thoroughly sick of those, who have been fortunate enough to maintain their jobs through this crisis, assuming that I am somehow dogging it, not really trying at all, being too picky or too proud to work. In other words, I am tired of being told that my situation is my fault and if I change: hairstyle, makeup, resume, job categories....everything will be just fine. But for the Grace of God.....

I have tried all these great suggestions, individually and in combination with one another on multiple occassions. My computer files are filled with so many resume versions, that I have to open half a dozen just to figure out which one to use. I have had to move my job search files to zip drives just to keep them in some sort of order. I am still growing out the haircut from hell, a style recommended as cutting edge and professional, yet looked absolutely horrific the day after. Spent several months looking like Einstein after he put his finger in the light socket. I have been good and firmly suckered into products that are supposed to make me look younger, and therefore take away that stigma of actually being an experienced and educated adult. (You get to a point where you will try almost anything.) The upside is that my teenage daughter indicated that these products, while not making Mom look significantly different than Mom usually does, seem to be working wonders on the adolescent acne thing. At least the money isn't totally wasted.

People keep telling me that I have to economize. We have truly cut things back about as far as can reasonably be done. Unfortunately, we have some bad habits, like eating. Soap is a pretty big necessity, for cleaning dishes, cleaning clothing, and cleaning self. But don't worry, I promise we are only using items that are on sale, which I have a coupon for, or the ever popular, generic (guess what is in the wrapper). Grocery shopping is a family outing now. Excitement is getting to choose from the sale items what you might like to eat for lunch.

I haven't bought garbage bags in months, preferring to recycle the grocery plastic bags to that use....but now the environmental types have short circuited my supply of trash bags with the bans on plastic. I always understood that the switch to plastic was in aid of saving trees, so does this mean that we are overpopulated on trees? I am sure that the grocery bags are recycled paper as I have not successfullty gotten one of them inside the house without the groceries dropping out the bottom. My driveway and trunk have been decorated with eggs, yogourt, mayonaise, vegetable oil because of paper bag failure. Not that I can really afford to give the driveway a facial at the expense of my weekly food budget, but short of literally taking the items in one at a time, what can I do? The clerk was all about me buying the reusable grocery bags, but sorry, I am here to get food. Buying grocery bags is not in the budget-even if they are reusable. And for all those folks who complain about those who do not pick up after their doggies, well....prepare to be ankle deep in the doo, because a whole lot of those folks were using the plastic grocery bags. Seriously doubt that they are going to run out in droves to buy pooper scooper bags at the pet store. But I digress...

Anyway, I am feeling put upon, militant even. I am so tired of everyone telling me how I could have done this whole unemployment thing better...Excuse me for not being experienced at the world of unemployment. Yeah, well hindsight is always crystal clear and 20/20. When this all started, I was thinking that, realistically, I would be out of work 3-6 months based upon a slow economy, and at the end of that time period had to readjust thinking, as I have been doing every single month ever since. And after the damage has been done, I truly hate all those folks who ask why I didn't apply for this program or that assistance. Could be that because I have worked since I was 15 with very brief maternity breaks of less than 4 weeks at a time, I had no idea that this stuff existed or that I would be eligible.

Maintaining a positive mental attitude and a good work ethic, by definition, means that I cannot be wandering around with my own personal storm cloud firmly over my head. I have to convey an attitude of confidence, be upbeat....(I do draw the line at perky). You simply cannot do that if you are living in constant panic mode. So I occassionally bought a cup of coffee out, instead of bringing along the cheaper mug that I made myself, at home. Have I been going from one job to another and rather than stopping home for food that I already bought at the grocery store, stopped at the drive up lane for the dollar menu? Yes, to both, although not an every day occurrence. According to my detractors, those few cups of coffee or McDoubles are going to make the difference in my world....not hardly!!!

The part time job is now full time hours, (for which I am grateful), and I have taken every overtime opportunity and holiday schedule offered. I even volunteered to work 15 days straight to cover a shift while a new person was trained. And when the paycheck finally arrived, it still seemed awfully light for all the effort expended. There are days that are literally around the clock, as I go directly from one enterprise to the other, in a never ending cycle of getting money into the bank account, so that it can fly out again to pay bills. Even so, we are still losing ground, getting further behind.

Which brings me to my other peeve. All those folks who say that my problems are based upon my living beyond my means, renting my lifestyle. This is so far from the truth as to be hysterically funny. I live in a house that would easily fit inside most people's garage. My daughter is not eligible for high school activities as we could not afford private club sports since she was in pre-school. Our family has not taken a vacation in over ten years. We haven't visited a zoo or museum in at least 2 years unless as part of a school field trip. We do not go to the movies, and don't even rent Red Box. I have said "no" so many times that my kids have stopped even asking.

Reality was that before all the "Hope and Change" nonsense started, both my husband and I had jobs, and between us a reasonable income that paid for the necessities and the occassional trip to Steak 'n' Shake for half price happy hour and $4 meal deals. I could actually buy my kid new gym shoes when she had a growth spurt. I didn't have to buy eyeglasses at places that advertise 2 pair for less than $100. Our family entertainment budget pretty much involved Direct TV, but no premium stations, no pay per view, no on demand options-just the basic package. Our household has one working television, which we inherited when my mother passed away in 2010. And it was really OK. More would have been nice, but we were getting along.

We are hardly living large, but as weeks stretched into months, and the months started piling up to be over a year, the savings were depleted. And while we were not making the big bucks before, compared to our income prospects now, it feels like we were captains of industry. Wondering if it is time to change the title of this blog from "Unemployment" to "Underemployment" You see, when I started all of this, I honestly believed that it was a temporary thing, a finite gig, and that we would find ourselves in new jobs and be able to put things back on track with some time and effort. Now, I am watching everything that I ever achieved slipping away, and despite working hard and long, the situation doesn't improve.

Despite all my efforts, I am feeling like the loser and failure that others want to conveniently label me, but not because they say so, but because I cannot even do the things for which I feel a sense of genuine responsibility. The final straw came this week, when we finally had to acknowledge that we will be letting our youngest down in the worst possible way that we can imagine. We have always been completely committed to the value and importance of education. If you want to call me an elitist snob, then so be it, but we have always been highly involved with our kids school, volunteering to support sports, fundraising, field trips. Our commitment included not moving into a new home or a larger home, but using the additional money for tuition at private schools, where there is just more direct communication between teachers, staff, and parents. I have cheerfully paid my property taxes to support the public schools as that is a social responsbility, but my kids have never utilized any of our school district facilities or services.

My youngest was due to start high school, and took entrance exams to earn a place. 400 girls tested, and only about 1/4 were accepted. My daughter made the cut, and this week we had to tell her that there is no way on God's little green earth that Mom and Dad can come up with tuition, after she achieved the honor of being valedictorian for her graduating class from 8th grade, after passing the entrance hurdle, and after testing for advanced placement classes. She did her part, and Mom and Dad are not capable of holding up our end. That is probably worse than collection calls or nasty letters about late payment and penalties. It is so hard to pick yourself up after being KO'ed. I was able to do this for the older, and while it made me proud that her big brother would offer to help Mom and Dad with the also made me incredibly sad, because my eldest, just turning 26, and according to our federal government, just reaching the age of being fully responsible for himself is already feeling that he has to bail Mom and Dad out. I am not even retired and feel like a burden to my kids.

Filed under: The Job Search

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