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Knowing something is going to happen doesn’t mean you’re ready when it does. It comes down to cost determing the size of the hammer. The rules to get relief or help forces the suspension of a work ethic.  The hole gets deeper.  Yes some climb out.  College becomes cheaper. Resources for that ease of access gets harder.  The class needed to move forward doesn’t match the bus schedule. the dependance on another student to get somewhere. In an urban environment this is not the barrier rural students face. Access. For me it’s more basic.  Friday the shutoff notice for my utilities arrived. For Monday. I’ve heard it typical for people in financial situations to stop opening the mail.  I opened it. Just made it worse. The constant stress of watching the odometer because your gas gauge doesn’t work.  Deciding what are the necessary trips adds to the commutative stress. America built it’s infrastructure around cars. Unless you happen to live in a city or town designed with walking in mind, the distance between work, home and school demands a car. The cost of having a car, insurance, gas and maintenance, exposes the class divide. People who have no need for the bus fight to keep a bus line from coming through their neighborhood. NIMBY.

It’s not a race issue. It’ a values issue.  Housing value, better schools and perceived safety cluster those at graduated levels of resources. What can we afford. The battle for any extension of public transportation always centers on fear.  A single act of stupidity over rides any other data showing it’s false assumption. An emotional response will always override reason. There are only two groups of people that own multiple cars, the very rich and the poor.  For different reasons.  This what I hear at gas stations near my neighborhood, $5 on 2.  Or any any variation of that number.  Those that can fill up use pay at the pump.  Pre pay or Card.  The basic assumption of trust has been eroded by stark  need.  Trust has shrunken to basic tribal levels.  What’s the answer?

Mine is to accept that simplifying is my only option.  It’s an easy step to make.  Years of  not having certain things has put me outside of current culture.  No cable or satellite. Dealing with slow internet from a WiFi hotspot. An older laptop.  Never owning any type of game console. A bare bones prepaid smart phone.  Compare that with the bombardment of what is expected according to advertising in the media.  When others are choosing this way of living, it has been mine for years.  Soccer is my main passion.  All the European or domestic leagues are all add on packages to basic cable.  That explains my irrational attitude for the lower levels of the game. It’s something I can experience in person. At a lower cost. And being in the crowd not just hearing through a surround sound system. Priceless.

There’s a chance of employment from a job fair which took the last of my gas.  I ponder this finishing up cold coffee.  Another skill learned. Savoring every sip.  Try it. See how long it takes to finish.  Now it’s time for a Boy Scouts with my son.

Work. A new Definition.

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A 50 hour work week.  Teachers needing a second jobs because of pay cuts.  All those teenage jobs of the past are now taken by the 25 to 40 single moms and retirees.  A third of suburban shopping malls, the symbol of the postwar middle class, are standing empty.  Some are being torn down then rebuilt as a multiuse downtown. Population density is the trend for Gen Y and Millennials. Smaller houses or apartments for empty nesters. The big Three are dealing with that same group using scooters and bikes instead big profit vehicles.  No computer skills in the current software or IT knowledge? Better learn. Nursing? Critical need. Some with those dirty hands on infrastructure jobs? That used to be honorable work.  People working with your hands built this country.A skill set in decline until it all falls apart. The common thread between them?  A personal interview.

Networking and referrals bypass the matrix driven online application process.  Upload your resume but still enter certain information.  Multiple pages of a personality sorting test. One less HR salary for the company. When I worked has an unpaid assistant manager at a record store, my job was to sort the applications.  First job paper forms were first sorted quickly, Can I read them?  Now the stack was down to the three I gave the manager. What’s the difference between the two methods?  A person had to ask for an application and bring it back. A human interaction. Yes technology has opened the global marketplace. What’s the catch?

Cheap tablets and smart phones  have replaced the physical office. While other infrastructure poor countries invested in fiber optic cable instead of roads or clean water, American went  merger crazy. New business built on cheap access to information or combining mature ones for stockholder profits?  The days of huge streams of unskilled labor entering a giant factory are gone. Does that mean America isn’t a manufacture country?  No.  We still out produce all the countries combined.  Applying technology to the process allows one person watching 5 machines to do the work of 10.  Skilled workers still dominate the good paying jobs. Transferable skills provides personal stability.

This trend exposes a flaw anyone that has dealt with an  Human Resource office. A focus on risk management and regulations instead of finding the right skills for a particular position. Into this choke point thousands of resumes flow with the speed of a keystroke. A shorter gap in employment has more weight than someone who updated their skills.  Thousands of college graduates with student loans have joined the workforce. Businesses have found paying overtime is cheaper than hiring a new person. Enter the  temporary or contract workers. No benefits. No driving need to hire them in. One less expense. The more layers, the more you’re just a number on a spreadsheet.

Refine your definition of success in the modern world. Live simpler.  Take time.  What else do you have?

Lightning in a Bottle.

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It’s all about timing.  A confluence of component beyond your control. Being ready for when the right waves rolls in.  And a bit of luck.  The nature of  the moment is riding the tiger. Too many times we fall off.  That’s writing in a nutshell.  My post Doors struck a chord.  Lightning flowed out of hands. Words appeared into a laptop  to then rode the energy out to the world. It found like minded travelers on their journey.  Then reality of calling yourself a writer was waiting by the door.  Mel Brooks said it best.  Writing is 80% inspiration and 20% perspiration.  That discipline is hardest to learn.  I have five drafts that stand defiant to my efforts.  There are at least a hundred unfinished short stories and 5 novels on my laptop. Writing about my struggles to live better is reflected in my small percentage of completed work.

Why do I call myself a writer?  It’s a compulsion.  There’s always something to write with and on within reach.  Interesting thoughts or dialogue pop into my head all day. In dreams or overhearing a great phrase in passing.  All of this was buried under the premedicated craziness of being Bipolar. And interrupted by factory jobs to pay the rent.  The type of work I can’t do anymore.  Controlling the insanity exposed the insanity of that type of work.  The work is mind numbing boring.  Never doubt the work ethic required to walk into the door everyday.  Any paycheck has a strong allure living in an area that been struggling for years. The worse part is that it’s a trap.  And we knew it.  That stripping away of any hope is what I can’t do anymore.

College writing and literature survey course turned me off being a writer.  I think they were designed by someone who believed 18 years read the wrong books. Reading from an early age became a handicap. Liking  hard Science Fiction was another strike.  Then there having an imagination combining old things in a new way. Find you own path. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.  Now it’s finding a way through the electronic noise to find an audience. In the past 11 months, I’ve worked 4 months. That time off gave me space to discover I like being outside of a windowless metal building.  A new way to look at where I call home.  The joy of writing.  Those lesson are being tested with all the stress of my situation.  My calm is something I’m still getting used to.

Thank you to all those that have found my observations helpful or useful.

Doors

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All my life there’s been a key in my pocket. For a door. A family home. A dorm room. An apartment. Many has a married man. Once again to an apartment.  Soon to be for a room.  The arc of a life with many twists.  They were never my door.  I was the holder of the key. A shaped piece of cut metal that unlocks a rectangular wall opening.  That fits a  lock.  A simple mechanism to secure the physical space. A place where your basic needs are met.  Food, shelter and clothing.  What changes our thinking about a fixed location that have contained the ghost of others lives?  A key.

Who controls the key? Who’s responsible for keeping it safe?  Who panics when it disappears?  I am.  It’s a refuge from the world.  Women create a nest while men care more about the walls defining the space.  Form and function have different meanings.  The space becomes yours when the key is added to other key that defines modern life.  The car.  Our two most defining possessions.  The people we would die to save are behind an opening secured by a object punched out of base metal. This morning the concept of Mine fell away.  None of the keys I’ve held have been mine. Not my parents or has a husband or an individual.  There has always been an outside force with power over any ownership.  The bank.  Roommate. Partners. Landlord.  Even if you own the house, The county can take it for back taxes. The thought of it being it My apartment has been stripped away with each bag of books or clothes taken out. Not in.

The objects defining a space spin the illusion of ownership. An outward expression of the inner self. The spiderwebs that define our life. Ever thought about the casual destruction of a web from the spider’s point of view?  That’s the  trauma caused by a natural disasters. Holding the keys that fit into nothing.  The anchor points of memories have been ripped away.  What follows the pain is cathartic. A feeling of discovering the You hidden under years of past expectations. I have caught glimpses of that person.  That’s all the vast majority of us can hope for. From last October to now, decisions made out of fear have crumbled under the challenge of  basic needs.

Hungry?  Been there.  The people around me have amazed and surprised me with their generosity.  Threat of being homeless?  Becoming homeless is the only way to get help from continuing to be homeless. A condition defined by decades old rules. Being considered a productive member of society?  The difference of what I have and learned from my parents has confused the line. Stretching a dollar forces choices that have certain consequences to how I’m seen to others. A very real anxiety.  All the energy to stay afloat is better spent moving forward on my own terms.  I hold a different kind of key in my hand. A key of my own making.  That fits a lock without a door. To a future that’s different. Brighter.

Where the Rubber Runs over You

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The title about sums it up.  Missed the food bank by 10 minutes.  My phone dropped the call from Consumers Energy about money owed.  Putting off calling my landlord until I get more information about a VA grant. If he’s willing to take me to court for an eviction order, He can receive up to 3 months rent.  Yes that’s how it works.  Have to lose everything to get some space to operate. Rules written 40 years ago when good jobs were plentiful and being poor was an oddity.  This whole situation has become my reality.  Accept it or go crazy fighting it.  I have been known piss into the wind.  Lesson learned.

The one thing that I know, working inside a windowless metal box is no longer an option.  It’s not the box or even the mindless work.  Those I can handle. My childhood dream was of working in space.  Just go to that place.  No it’s the people. Knowing there were certain elements beyond my control put me here. It allows me to see those that haven’t differently. I control what I can.  It’s all about Choices. Fear surrounds the.  There’s no place in a tight job market for those with odd  personalities, appearance or attitudes.  The world has become one of making your own way. I Grew up in a house paid for by self employment.  Watched it all disappear when my father got cancer.

Those rare dinner table moments were filled by business and accounting.  The 70s were when entertaining clients was a tax write off. What I saw didn’t inspire me to desire that life. The one thing my father feared most, computer technology, has changed everything.  He had this monstrous mechanical adding machine on his desk.  That’s the one sound I remember most.  Rhythmic. Fast.  Workmanlike.  I write listening to music from a laptop while this blog is done in silence.  Future shock.  When the speed of changing technology outpaces the human users. It’s taken years to reprogram certain expectations from my parents.

I found this blog on my Facebook page. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-altucher/quit-your-job_b_5111751.html  It was one of those times when someone brought all the puzzle pieces together in a concise order.  Not that long ago, the smoke and mirrors of retirement disappeared.  The lifestyle adjustment started with that fundamental shift.  Urban center living.  Small house movement.  Living off the grid.  Downsizing my life.  All these are grow from the same seed. Villages instead of suburbs.  What do you need not desire.  Change the road not the wheel using it.

The only thing I can do is keep searching.  For a job.  Personal peace. A middle way.

 

 

 

Light and Dark

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Living Aware brings  the forgotten out of  the background. Renting forced me into conforming to someone else’s  frame. Pictures can’t hide an indifferent wall color. Blackout shades with heat reflective backing  became another element that faded to background noise. A necessity for working third shift. Sleeping in a  cool dark room while the rest of the world moved in the light. This morning that dichotomy became apparent once again.  External choices  became internalized. A self constructed illusion of limitations.  That stress is amplified by other negative illusions hidden in the background.  Illusion that are inescapable in daily culture.

Home magazine use set designers to spin the illusion of what the perfect home should be. It can change your life.  No kids. No dogs. All the hard work is putting it all together. Peace and time to enjoy after. One scene from The Devil Wears Prada summed it up best.  The cerulean color and accessories created a 250 million dollar demand in the billion dollar fashion culture. For one season. Airbrushed models create the illusion of perfect beauty.  Another Billion dollar industry.  An unobtainable goal. Genetic freaks and designers with an army of unseen assistants.  The dream disappears in the growing light of your messy house filled with noisy kids and wet dogs. Change takes an energy obligations suck away.

The heat and humidity on coastal plains of  Texas make life miserable for anyone with my body type.  That’s my answer of why I won’t go back.  I would rather sit on shady deck looking out on a sunny vista than being out in it.  Eight years of 12 hour days and overtime stopped any chance at improving myself through school.  It was a trap that only now injecting its poison.   No computer skills with paperwork to prove, no job.  After 2008, not having the right computer skills, no job.  Fail at your one chance at high school? Welcome to the world of minimum wage. In a  rapidly changing technology driven world it takes money to keep up. Slavery has another color now, green.

I’m a fan of Eric Flint’s 1632 universe.  What happens when a small dying W. Virginia coal town is transported to the Germanies during the 30 years war.  After 10 books and 54 volumes of an Ezine, a central question has been asked.  How can a bunch of Uptime small town people thrive and succeed where back in the 20th they couldn’t?  Opportunity. The ultimate chance to move into the light. Post Civil War the economy was wide open to anyone with the drive to make themselves rich. Today it’s variations on a theme imagined by someone else. Small cracks of opportunity. Right place, right time, knowing the right people.  This is the world in which my employment source is taking place.

It’s a cloudy day.  A changeable mixture of shades of  grays.   Neither light or dark. My favorite type of day.

Getting Swamped

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Yesterday was one of those days that started with small waves.  When it was done it was the storm had me fanatically baling.  Urban school districts are where the most resources are needed but are getting squeezed the hardest. The schoolteachesr in the Saginaw city schools just took a 9% pay cut.  This after years of 1 to 2% wage increases all the while paying more for everything.  In effect a pay cut.  My Ex is a teacher and an adjunct professor at the local university.  Two jobs.  Both teaching.  Our son in Jr. high and a daughter just starting high school.  And I’m unemployed.  Perfect storm.  An inability to plan has once more cause this.  The place where I write this is a parade of youthful hope.  A bright future ahead.

Thinking back to that point in my own life, hope wasn’t a driving force.  Darkness has always been a travelling companion.  All those years of having a schedule that let me pick up my kids in the afternoon have ended. The other side of that that equation limited social contacts outside of work.  A central thread in my life. Being addicted to Chaos and crazy, it was normal. Get bored, create a crisis to manage.  There are 12 step programs for addicts of every stripe. Chaos doesn’t count. It’s considered part of everyday life.  So is alcohol in moderation. Working so hard to manage the chaos is creating a dangerous undertow.  The only way to escape any undertow is to swim out at an angle.  Fighting it will kill you.  The other option to let it sweep you  out to sea.  Passive suicide.  Had to rest and lost the angle.

One of my favorite movies has a line that applied to me.  I women told the male lead he was a serial dater.  Always one at a time.  I have spent my life being a serial worker. My working life has been a series of 3 year cycles. Other circumstances stretched the last one to 8 years.  The tension was always there.  The person I’ve become can’t work those jobs anymore.  My lack of skills from just surviving, have added me to the pile of with no perceived value.  It used to be having a middle class work ethic was a good thing to have.  Show up. Do your job.  The job that supported your family in a place that took discipline to walk into.  Go home.  Repeat for years.  E-learning and on line classes has brought flexible to otherwise inflexible positions.  Getting a glimpse of the possible makes the present so much harder. Discipline is critical. I have an AS. Wrong subject. The apartment has become a place to sleep. I have to lose all stability to receive help. Policies written in another time.  Not the new normal.  Now my old normal is calling.  Transporting kids from one place to another. The one bright spot in my day.

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