Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’

We interrupt this unemployment again — hopefully for good this time …

July 24, 2013

Monday was one of the most rollercoaster days I’ve had in a long while. Actually, it was more like seven-and-a-half hours.

I hadn’t posted anything about this anywhere until now, but my mom has been in the hospital since last Wednesday night with pneumonia — and, as you might possibly know firsthand, it’s painful to see one of your parents laid up and suffering, especially if they’re elderly. My family and I have been visiting her daily. On Saturday, the color was back in her face, and she was animated, and we had a great heart-to-heart.

But Monday afternoon, as I was getting ready to leave the house for a checkup, my father and youngest brother came home from the hospital, and they told me she had taken a turn for the worse. And they’re not alarmists by any stretch. Naturally, visions of mortality come at you like bats at twilight when you hear something like that. I did my damndest to keep calm while suddenly confronted with the thought that maybe, just maybe, I’m about to lose my mother.

Well, imagine my surprise when I walked down the hospital hall two and a half hours later, and I heard her voice coming from inside the room, talking with a doctor. I was expecting tubes and a respirator and maybe a coma. Nope — she’s pretty tough.

Came home a little after 8 and was cooking a small bowl of pasta when the phone rang. It was a job recruiter calling from the suburbs of Seattle.



May 30, 2013

B-W meditationI started this just-past Memorial Day the way I start most Mondays — with my usual week-opening read: Peter King’s newest Monday Morning Quarterback on Being a holiday week, and a light news time in football, King went heavy on other things besides the usual news: Memorial Day, a look back at Brian Urlacher’s just-ended career … and snippets of commencement speeches.

And one excerpt struck me.

It was from author John Green’s address to the newly minted grads at Butler University. His words, obviously, were meant for a few thousand college kids entering the work world at an awfully tough time to be entering the work world, not someone going through a whopper of a mid-life crisis after being discarded by the work world. But the passage that King ran with could easily have been written about my life:

” … You are probably going to be a nobody for a while. You are going to make that journey from strength to weakness, and while it won’t be an easy trip, it is a heroic one. For in learning how to be a nobody, you will learn how not to be a jerk. And for the rest of your life, if you are able to remember your hero’s journey from college grad to underling, you will be less of a jerk. You will tip well. You will empathize. You will be a mentor, and a generous one. …”

During my way-too-long struggle to find a full-time job these last four years — one that has brought me quite a few times to the brink of losing my sanity and/or pondering ending my life — I’ve often thought, in my most lucid moments, that maybe this is one of the big lessons I’ve had to learn these past four years: humility.

That’s way too simplistic, though. Or is it? And what constitutes humility and what constitutes ego and conceit, anyway?

The battle rages on.


The Month of George Bailey

August 10, 2012

It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t something I usually mention, let alone ponder, in early August. (At least wait ’til the department stores start putting up their Christmas stuff, in late August.)

My view of Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart’s 1946 masterpiece (and you have to give Stewart co-billing here, because, like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it wouldn’t have have resonated this long and loudly without him) is colored by how I’m feeling about life that particular holiday season. If I’m happy and perhaps prosperous — and maybe, on those rare occasions, even in love — then I sit there and soak in the glow of a tale of a man who has done great deeds, none of which have seemed to have gone unpunished, pushed to the brink of suicide on Christmas Eve, dragged back by a bedraggled guardian angel second-class who died in the 18th century, shown what the world would be like had he never been born, and ultimately rewarded in a most wonderful way.

But as often as not — and especially last Christmas, living in a miserable, passive-aggressively hostile rental situation, the hours of my on-call copy-editing about to be slashed to nothing just 3 1/2 months after I returned to the work world after 2 1/2 years out of work — I felt more like this:

Years like last, I avoid the film, grumbling about how much of a crock of shit it is — how George Bailey is only a fictitious character, and that this shit doesn’t happen in real life.

(In fact, last year, I watched not one Christmas special, and Jeff Day and I didn’t even do our annual radio run-through of Rudolph on WPKN. And my back was turned to the TVs in the newsroom as I worked the copy desk Christmas Eve night, as one showed It’s a Wonderful Life and the other showed A Christmas Story. And on Christmas Day proper, I sat in my miserable room at the Happy House watching a documentary on a renowned and brilliant atheist — American: The Bill Hicks Story.)

It’s been a month now since I discovered that my work hours at The Fresno Bee were going bye-bye — and unlike the previous two occurrences this year (after Christmas and Easter), when I regained some hours eventually, this felt permanent. (And that was hammered home two evenings ago, Aug. 7, when I learned two more of my ex-colleagues, one on the copy desk, were laid off.).

When Kris, my boss, told me the news, I just knew it was time. A brief moment of “Not yet — I can’t afford this!” followed by a huge sense of calm. I had reached the end. It was time to go home. This time, the voice of reason wasn’t the loud whisper that told me, “Okay — it’s Fresno” the day the Bee’s then-features editor emailed me in October 2003, asking if I’d be interested in the assistant features editor position. Or the out-of-body experience I felt at the moment of my gender epiphany inĀ  January 2008, the voice asking me quite clearly from someplace to my left, “Can you do this?” This was a slight sag of the shoulders, the slow letting-out of air, and me saying, out loud to Kris, “It’s time.”

But how was I gonna do this?

I wasn’t ready for what followed. It’s been one part It’s a Wonderful Life, one part learning experience. Kind of having to learn to redefine the concepts of success and failure.


Well, here comes my next step, ready or not — help!

July 2, 2012

The exit off 84 in Waterbury that will get me home.

This is something I just posted on my Facebook wall …

Monday, July 2, 2012, 3:30 a.m. PDT

Well, friends, friendly faces and kinfolk …

I don’t know how I’m gonna do this, but just past halftime of 2012 — this year of great change — great change is finally hitting me. And, ready or not, I have no choice.

I’ve pondered this the last two days — told my mother and a handful of friends — and up until this past evening, I wasn’t 100 percent sure. And even now, as I polish and finish this letter I started two days ago, it feels somewhat surreal. But after recording my lead vocals last night for “Out of Step” with The Backstabbers for the forthcoming Reducers tribute album, I feel I’ve done the last thing I’ve needed to finish here in Fresno.

Drazzle drazzle, drazzle drone — time for this one to come home.


Life in Limboland, Part 1: ‘He’ — or what the hell AM I, really?

April 23, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I kinda sorta rejoined the work world last September. The Fresno Bee, the newspaper that brought me out here eight years ago from Connecticut — and the very place that laid me off three years ago — brought me back, as an on-call copy editor.

Things would be different this time, though, as befitting a newspaper and staff that had been decimated over the previous three years — no benefits, and the hours weren’t set in stone. But since the rest of the already-stretched staff was facing furloughs the final quarter of last year, it meant, between that and the regular staffers’ sick days, that I would pretty much get full-time hours.

Okay, not ideal. But after 2 1/2 years without a job, four months after the unemployment ran out, and being fucked with every way to Sunday by the work world — more than 300 resumes sent out, 99.9 percent of them without the decency of even a “Fran, you suck” in return, and the few places that interviewed me treating me terribly — it was a huge sigh of relief to be able to make something resembling a living again.

I could pay the rent, pay off some bills, pay down the credit cards, and pay for some doctor bills should I need to. And, as it turned out, the money came in handy when my car was totaled a month later and I needed another one. And I came back to a lot of open arms and hugs from my ex-and-once-again colleagues. That was great. And I think it said something to the world at large that, in the midst of the newspaper industry’s self-destruction, the paper that laid me off thought enough of me to bring me back. And, for the first time, as a woman.

And, for the first time in a long time, I would feel useful. That’s a powerful thing. The worst aspect of my distended unemployment hell wasn’t the fear of being broke, as stressful as that was — it was the uselessness. The constant messages of worthlessness hammered into me from the world at large, and from God — whatever God is — itself. Try fighting that in the midst of the stress that comes with a gender transition, willya?

It was a good thing, going back to the Bee. It wasn’t going to be forever, but it would get me on my feet. And all would be well — a great springboard to much better things.

Well, seven-and-a-half months later, I find myself rut-stuck — trapped, even — in Limboland. For one, the Bee is in such straits that, even in a quarter of more furloughs, my hours were slashed to, for all intents, nothing two weeks ago. No warning, either — went from three-, four-, five-day weeks to one day scheduled in the coming month. I was called in last night, and it was the first work I had in nearly two weeks. My next scheduled day is two Sundays from now. Nothing after that.

And again, I find myself with no job prospects, not knowing where to turn. Same as a year ago. And the year before that. And the year before that. But that will all be another post, I guess.

But just as badly, I’m going through another nifty little bit of limbo that has me questioning everything all over again.

It all has to do with two little letters, which I hear a lot:


Leading to the inevitable follow-up:

“What the hell AM I?”

I won’t go through this again.


What’s it like?

February 8, 2012

What’s it like?

What’s it like to be beautiful?

What’s it like to be wanted?

What’s it like to be loved?

What’s it like to roll over in the morning and see someone next to you who cherishes you and accepts you, even though you look like hell and (s)he knows and has seen all your shortcomings?

What’s it like to have friends who actually call you and say “Hey, let’s do something”?

What’s it like to not worry about friends vanishing on you when their life turns fabulous or yours turns to shit?

What’s it like to have a regular job with a decent paycheck?

What’s it like to have a stellar resume and have an employer snap you up in less than a heartbeat?

What’s it like to have healthcare, so you don’t have to worry about being able to afford the simple luxury of taking care of yourself without falling into a financial hole from which you’ll never be able to climb out?

What’s it like to be able to live in a place surrounded by good, decent, nurturing people, without negative energy in every room?

What’s it like to have a car where you never have to worry about what’s gonna break down next?

What’s it like to be able to wake up in the morning and never have to think about money?

What’s it like to travel and dine where and whenever you please?

What’s it like to know that you’ve truly accomplished something, or know you’ve made a difference in the world?

What’s it like to be happy?

What’s it like to never have to question whether you’re a man, a woman or just some mutant strain that’s both and neither?

What’s it like to not beat yourself up over every single mistake and misstep you’ve made in your life, or constantly wonder what you could have done differently?

What’s it like to wake up in the morning and just never, ever have to question whether life is really worth living?

What’s it like?

Inquiring minds like to know.

I’d like to know.

No Irish, no blacks, no dogs, no unemployed

June 7, 2010

So if I needed any reassurance on Saturday that my most excellent birthday was over and that life was gonna revert to its usual shittiness, I got it in the form of two stories I read on Huffington.

The first one was no surprise: The number of people out of work six months or longer now makes up 46 percent of the total of unemployed Americans, and should reach half by summer’s end. So much for economic stimulus.

The second one was equal parts shocking, saddening, anxiety-raising and just plain enraging:

Now we’re hearing that some companies are refusing to even consider hiring unemployed workers.

What the fuck?!?