The shitstorm returns, with a vengeance

Yesterday morning, I was awake early — I haven’t slept soundly in over a year now, so that, unto itself, is nothing unusual in my never-ever-normal world.

The way I dealt was a little different.

I was set to work on some resumes to send out; a friend had tipped me to a company looking to hire digital journalists in New York, which is one of the places where I’ve been looking for a job.

Normally, I would have dug right in and started tailoring my resume to what this company wanted, set out to writing dazzling cover letters so good that someone would be dumb not to hire me.

And then I thought about it. And I said, “Why the fuck should I even bother? They’re just gonna ignore me, too!”

It’s now been nearly three years since I’ve last had a steady job. I’ve sent well over 300 resumes to places famous and not-so — to websites, newspapers, universities, nonprofits, you name it, both in the Bay Area and back home, back East. And more than 99 percent of them, I haven’t even received a response. I haven’t even gotten the decency of a “you suck.” And the ones who have responded have treated me like shit.

And I still have been diligent about hitting the job websites daily. And in the first two weeks of this year, I sent out five more applications. Top-notch resumes, with all the experience and intangibles they wanted, with dazzling, never-let-’em-see-you-frantically-thrashing cover letters. Again, not even the decency of a single “you suck.”

And now I’m also at the point where the hours of my on-call job at my former employer have been cut to nearly nothing. Nothing personal; they’ve just been doing more budget-slashing.

But again, why the fuck should I bother anymore? I know full well by now what the result will be. Three years of this hatred, this taunting, from the universe — if I were as smart as I think I am, I would’ve bought the clue a long time ago.

Okay, I’ve finally bought it. I get the hint.

I give up. I’m done looking for work. Whatever happens, happens. If I end up out on the streets, I end up out on the streets. If I lose everything, I lose everything. If I die, I die. Big fucking deal. Decrease the surplus population.


The shitstorm of turbulence and doubt and fear and uselessness I’ve lived through in the past year, which I thought was well in my rearview mirror as 2011 wound down — I was working again, I found some reason to believe that everything was on an upswing, and that everything, at last, truly was happening for a reason that I could understand — came storming back just before the new year and won’t leave.

Up ’til the holidays, I was pretty positive. I was constantly sending out positive vibes into the universe: Money will happen. The job will happen. Love will happen. All things that have been denied me for so long — I was truly believing that things were turning around at last. I was finding reasons to be happy. Even though I spent a chunk of my Christmas Day holed up in my room, with my Charlie Brown tree, in a house owned by an angry alcoholic atheist, I was upbeat. My last Christmas in Fresno. No place to go but upward.

But the week leading into the new year, the old mantras came storming back with a vengeance: You’re worthless. You’re useless. People actually hate you, and the ones who don’t, they just tolerate you from a distance. You’ll never get a job again. You’re fat. You’re ugly.

Unhirable, undesirable, unworthy of love, unworthy of making a living.

And on top of that, I’ve apparently worn out my welcome with people who were friends, or who I thought were friends. Three times in the past week, I sent out requests on Facebook and Linkedin asking colleagues and ex-colleagues if they could say something nice in my Linkedin recommendations, as I wanted to update my profile. Out of the hundreds I know, three responded. Whatever support system I thought I had is, for all intents, nonexistent.

Plus, I think I’m overexposed on Facebook. Actually, I know it. Either people who were my friends have gotten sick me me posting regularly, or the novelty of me being there is long past. I’ve driven people away without trying, without even doing anything terrible or malicious. And people don’t usually tell you when they’re tired of you or when they disappear.

Plus the novelty of the new, improved Frannie is so over as well, as naturally it should be. Everyone’s moved on. But I didn’t plan on this: I’ve now become the fat, ugly guy with no self-confidence and no self-esteem all over again, only with a much better fashion sense. It didn’t take long for my second adolescence to turn to shit, too.

So I went back to bed yesterday, curled up, in tears of anger, and lashed out at the God in my head, whatever it is. At least I think it was God.

“I can’t do this anymore!” I said. “I’m not gonna go through 2011 again! If you want me here, fucking do something! If you don’t want me here anymore, fucking do something! Just do something! Please!”


At my best, I think that there’s something big just ahead. That I’ve put all this work into my life, into myself, for some reason that’s gonna pay off in a huge way at some point. If only I knew how to be funny, to have a sense of humor I could turn on and off at will and channel into a one-woman show …

This past fall, I actually led myself to believe it. Going back to work 2 1/2 years after my layoff, even without benefits, was a big step back up the road out of hell. I could show the work world that I actually had a job — and was brought back by the company that let me go in the first place, which I guess says something, too. And it got me another car (my old one, on its last legs for years, was hit and totaled in October), which was another encouraging sign.

But that’s all past now. Though, at my best, I’m thinking my unasked-for time off is the universe telling me to get going on my book. I actually did some work on it this past week, though I’m daunted by the amount of notes on which I have to catch up. Paola, one of the few friends in my life I don’t have to worry about disappearing on me, suggested I just get the first chapter done and send it to a literary agent and see what I get back. She even found me a link with some information about agents. Maybe that’s a sign.

And there’s a part of me telling myself not to focus on a job — just focus on the money coming in. The money will happen. And love will happen. Perhaps there’s some sort of huge jackpot that entails I never have to work again.


But at my worst — like now — I revert back to the God of retribution, of vengeance. I get all sorts of Old Testament in wondering why I’m 50, still with no steady job after nearly three years, stuck here, a perpetual foreigner in exile in a polluted, godforsaken, ignorant, culturally isolated city in the middle of California, in a toxic (and alcoholic — them, not me) living situation, unable to afford to even get away for the day. And unrelentingly rejected by the work world. And, not having had a girlfriend for seven years, no soulmate. No one who thinks I’m worthy enough to love, even on my best and most dazzling days.

The Old Testament part of me believes I did something terribly wrong along the way, and that every mistake and screwup I’ve made in life has come back to haunt me. There’s no other explanation: I’m a bad person; somewhere, somehow, in a past life or this one, I did something to piss off God in a huge way, and whatever God is, it’s unleashing some sort of payback.

I get it, God. I’m a bad person. You’ve been telling me that since I was a kid, since the taunts of “faggot” and the shunning I encountered in my long-distant past. I just didn’t accept it then. I didn’t want to accept it. And I haven’t wanted to accept it the past three years. And somewhere along the way, I sold some people on the impression that I actually was a good human being.

Apparently not. You win. I accept.


Last Friday evening, I parked myself in my usual corner of my usual coffee shop. Amy the Redhead, a wonderful force of nature who’s been very supportive of me and whom I hadn’t talked to at length in some time, came by to say hi. She asked me how things were, and I told her I was okay. I guess I looked more upset than I wanted to let on, because she said, “Why don’t I believe you?” And that started a long, heavy, tear-streaked (on my part) and needed conversation. When she left, she gave me this bookmark:


is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life unacceptable to me and I can find no serenity until I can accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at the moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.

I’ve refused to accept, though, that I’m an object to scorn, to reject. I’ve refused to accept being a cautionary tale rather than a shining example. I’ve refused to understand I have no purpose in life. Is that bad?


The bottom line is I’m past frustrated, past angry. But sad? Hell, yeah.

I see people who were out of work as long as I’ve been returning to the work world, with jobs that make them happy, and I say, “When’s it gonna be my turn?” I see people living here who are actually being hired by companies in other parts of the country and say “When’s it gonna be my turn?” I see people who’ve had their hearts smashed into jillions of little pieces fall in love again — and, better yet, find people who treat them like gold — and I say “When the fuck is it my turn?”

It’s not. It won’t be. I’m done hoping. I accept.

I’m just waiting for God, whatever it is, to finish the job. Just get it over with. If you have some positive purpose for me, I really need to know what it is. Like now; yesterday, even. If you have nothing useful planned for me, then just give me the courage to give in — to finally say enough, drift away and die alone somewhere where no one will know, no one will find me.

You’ve won, already. I accept. Now do something!


10 Responses to “The shitstorm returns, with a vengeance”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    Fran I can’t offer much because of our situation — Scott still with no steady work (although he’s picking up an odd job here and there) and all of our time and money wrapped up in our business. However, I’ve got an empty mother-in-law room that you can escape to when you need to. It’s got a bed and a TV and Internet access and a shower and toilet all it’s own. Let me talk to Scott and maybe we can work something out long-term if you need it. In the meantime, let’s meet up sometime when I can get you a key.

    I’m not as good a friend as I could have been, being wrapped up in my own little world and our problems and I apologize for that. There are lots of us out there that don’t like seeing you in pain. Acceptance of the worlds problems is much easier said then done.

    • franoramaworld Says:

      Jen, you don’t have to apologize for anything. (And you get a gold star for being the one who steered me to the blog world in the first place.) You and Scott have been working your asses off, and it’s so wonderful to see you two succeeding far beyond your expectations — and, more importantly, succeeding in doing something that you love, with someone you love.

      Thanks for the offer of the room. We’ll talk. And thanks for the kindness.

      • Jennifer Says:

        I talked with Scott today. If you want to use the room for a daily escape or just want to move in for a while, it’s yours. I get off work early tomorrow (read: I close the shop at 6), maybe we can get in touch then. I thought I had your phone number, but I can’t find it.

  2. Andrea Thacker Delcore Says:

    I met an amazing and interesting woman last week. I don’t think she should accept herself as an object to scorn or reject. I don’t think that’s the acceptance she’s looking for. I’m around all the time, Fran, if you want to hang out or talk. I may have the little ones with me, but we can always come hang out in the Tower, they love to get out of the house, especially in the morning, before nap (which is at one). Facebook me so we can have lunch or coffee.

  3. David Williamson Says:

    Sorry to hear that it is all looking so bleak for you.
    But there are many more out here that care about you than you may see at the moment.
    Always remember, “It’s always darkest just before they turn on the lights ”
    Never quit, many a game is won in the dying seconds of extra time !
    You have too much talent to not land something soon.
    Wishing you all the best from a snowy New England.

  4. Jay Says:

    Fran, hang in there. I know it’s rough out there. I’ve been only working part time for the better part of a year, and it’s not enough money and I feel like I’m gonna be stuck back at my parent’s house forever (though I’m grateful they are there), and I barely even have the energy to look for jobs anymore. And my love life is non-existent as well… I’ve had some difficult relationships (if that is even the right word for them) that have not worked out the way I wanted. So I know partly what you’re going through. I’m not sure I can offer any great advice (as a matter of fact I can’t)… except just to say to hang in there my friend. Things have GOT to get better one of these days…. right? That’s what I keep telling myself anyhow.

  5. Jay Says:

    Maybe if we’re “lucky” Newt will become president and then we can finally just all give up and wait for the end to come and not have to care anymore. It almost might be a relief.

  6. Jay Says:

    One last thing… I know what you mean about not feeling like your friends are there for you. I have felt that way too. Everyone seems to be too busy to even call me anymore, let alone get together. Sometimes I feel like nobody wants to have anything to do with me even though I go out of my way for the people I care about. And I get complete silence in return. Is that the way it REALLY is, or just the way I see it? Maybe a little of both.

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