A story has as many versions…

A story has as many versions as it has readers. ~ John Steinbeck

A story has as many versions as it has readers. ~ John Steinbeck

Greetings, Readers.

I’m back at the public library, ten days since my last post, to fill out more job applications as no more interviews have been granted up to now. I just wrote this to a good friend:

I’m trying really hard not to give even a centimeter of space to desperation and panic, but of course it is a fact that those thoughts can be like flies I have to swat away and make sure they don’t come into my head. I feel like I am trying to swim in the ocean and my arms are getting really, really tired. I need the rescue boat (a job) to come and fish me out so I can get back to dry land and build my house. I really do not want to drown.

My mental flyswatter works better some days than others, and depending on how the weather is, sometimes I feel like an ultra-survivor. I am Piscine Molitor Patel in the boat with Richard Parker [ref.] and I know it’s all going to be just fine because my wits are with me.

But then there are the days where the flyswatter feels full of holes and the flies are extra thick, and I’ve fallen out of the boat, it’s storming, and I am choking on water.

Part of the changing landscape of my emotions and therefore how the journey is going is connected with the story that I believe about myself in any given moment. When I saw this quote from Steinbeck outside of the library the other day, I snapped a photo of it with my iPhone because I thought, “Well isn’t that true, Mr. Steinbeck. Well-played.”

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am 46 and have moved back in with my parents. I needed to leave the place where I was living because neither the finances nor the home in which I’d been living were suitable for survival in the Denver area. Because I did not qualify for unemployment benefits, my parents agreed to support me until I find a job. I was not laid off; I chose to leave voluntarily because I was only working part time at a private school in a couple of “support services” positions, and I was netting a monthly wage below the poverty level for Denver. The place where I was living had cockroaches and I’d experienced one bedbug sighting this past spring, one which likely migrated from the neighboring unit. I discovered the neighbors had them just after making my decision to move out in August. In addition, I was no longer going to have access to a reliable vehicle. In lieu of receiving child support from the father of my oldest son (the one who graduated this past May), I received free rent and also use of one of my ex’s additional vehicles for the past couple of years while our son finished high school. But the vehicle needed to be returned to the ex once the older son went off to college (and truly, it was a real piece of crap which I had no interest in buying from him. I would have spent much in maintaining it). Basically, my living situation in Denver (barely) worked until it didn’t.

It seemed, to me, grossly unfeasible to stay where I was, and I have also wanted to live closer to my youngest son to be more available to him. Moving north was something I had thought about doing once my oldest son graduated, but given everything that happened from January to June of this year, I was not, I admit, trying very hard to line up jobs in northern Colorado (I did send a couple of applications out in June). But also, up until April, I actually had hopes (hopes based on conversations with people) that the school where I was working might have found a way to employ me for more hours or even give me a greater role as an ESL teacher in the school. But when the school decided to relocate, any other plans for growth within the school (i.e., funds to support extra teachers and so on) were put on the back burner, and in staying there, I would have only had my poverty-level wages still, but now needing to pay rent in a home that was experiencing roaches and bedbugs. If I had to get a new full-time job elsewhere anyway, would it not be better to do that closer to my youngest son?

Sorry for the repetition of information. I think I need to repeat the story as I know it because there are certain people in my life (can you read between the lines here?) whose story of how my life has gone and whose understandings of my doing things the way that I have done is a different version from my own. It takes a lot of hard work for me to keep my own story about myself straight in my head and not someone else’s version of it when those people want to express how they see my life through their lens of perception. The version that *COUGH* some other people *COUGH* have of my story is, shall we say, “less flattering” than the story I have for myself. It involves accusations of “taking advantage” and “laziness” and lots of other nouns and verbs and adjectives which are equally unflattering.

I won’t even get (much) into how I feel about the particular political views of said person or persons and how those views include ideas such as “government should not be taking care of people as much as they are,” and “certain benefits ought not be handouts.” Things of that ilk, you know? So, when someone is trying very hard to get back on his or her feet with limited (um, let’s try “NO”) resources and no ability to collect unemployment wages, who is it that will take care of that person until he or she is able to get back on his or her feet? The private sector, of course. WELL, GUESS WHAT, person or persons! The “private sector” means YOU.

I have deep gratitude I am not on the street. I have deep gratitude I am not in the buggy former home. I am glad that I have warmth and safety and close proximity to my child. I allow gratitude to flow in and through me, and maintain dignity, courtesy, respect, and honor in my situation. I’m trying to do the very best that I can with the best of motivations. I’m also trying to take care of myself in selecting which jobs I apply to. This means not applying for the job at the big box warehouse because even after just five minutes shopping in one of those places, I have a near-migraine from the fluorescent lights. This means not applying for the job at the makeup counter of the local department store because, um, I don’t wear makeup (or not much anyway, and it has to be specific hypoallergenic stuff) and the perfume counter gives me a headache as well. And NO, I have not put my application in with the local Evil Empire Food Emporium whose name starts with “M” because I think they are a f***ing evil empire “food” emporium! I’m also not out selling my body for money, and I feel to work in a place where I eat NONE of the food (being almost-vegan, and gluten and dairy intolerant) and which I think has single-handedly ruined the health and well-being of the children in our country would be doing about the same. And YES, I have occasionally bought things there because it’s cheap and I’ve needed an iced tea for a dollar, been on the road and there are not any other better options, but NO, I don’t think it’s hypocritical, therefore, to not want to work there and support as well as be supported by something I disagree with in fundamental ways. No, I will not do ANYTHING for a dollar, nor do I think I should, and really, if I *should* do anything for a dollar, then why is it not okay to apply for jobs in a medical marijuana facility? Or a liquor store? Or a bar? Oh, really? No? Those places are not okay, but the Mickey D’s place is? Um……….

(Yes, these are versions of stories that have played out in recent days.)

I cannot help the job climate here in this city and regional area. I can’t (much) help that for whatever reason, the applications I have submitted are not yielding interviews, or if they are yielding interviews (I have had two), those interviews are not yielding jobs. I’ve been to the Workforce Center, registered with them, met with people there. I have signed up with all of the pertinent online parties (CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.) and submitted somewhere around 20 applications up to now. It’s a numbers game, and it’s a timing thing, I know. And I’m sorry older-person-who-has-been-retired-for-many-years. You are a wise and giving person, but you have no clue about the current way in which things work. One cannot just walk into a business anymore and say, “I would like a job please,” and they nod their heads and say, “Why oh yes! We need a dishwasher/gas pump attendant/waitress/french fry fryer. We’re so glad to see you! Come on back and we’ll start paying you RIGHT NOW!” And really, can’t someone with a Master’s degree in education (but no teacher certification) try out for a job as an administrative assistant or customer service representative instead of french fry maker? Is that not an appropriate thing to do? I’m not trying to be classist or uppity or overly-choosy in the choices I make about which jobs to apply for. I just want something that will pay me $11 to $12 per hour instead of $8.50. I’d love to find something that would pay me in the low $30,000 a year range. I don’t think with 20-plus years of good work experience and having an advanced degree that I need to leap at getting *anything* because I needed money several yesterdays ago. I know it’s a pinch and a difficulty and a pressure and a burden. I do. I’m working on it as best I can is all I can say right now.

It’s a case of different versions of expectations, different versions of how life and job hunting works in this day and age, different versions of what is possible and what is not, different versions of oh so many things.

I’m learning patience and grace and remembering that there are as many versions of a story as there are readers. And who’s to say for them that their version is not correct? But I’m not planning to edit my version of my story to another reader’s because: Self-Sovereignty, yo.

And this is me, waving, but not drowning (a nod to Stevie Smith and my third ex, who once upon a time wrote a blog post where he turned the poem around, too).

Over and out.

Signed, Karin, looking for ballast in the form of a job.

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2 Comments

  1. Maria O. Russell

     /  October 27, 2014

    Karin,

    I can’t believe people can be so opinionated of somebody’s predicament like yours…but then…I’m reminding myself there are people who live and/or always have lived in a bubble…..
    They never knew about “desamparo” or wondered where their next meal was coming from….
    I know a lot of them, I can write a book about it.
    I’m glad you wrote about how you feel, a lot of us can relate. We understand.

    I’m sure you will eventually find a good job, Karin. Please, hang in there!
    You are bilingual, remember? Just what the Social Security, the INS and other “oficinas del gobierno” need! You know more French than you even want to admit it.

    Thank you, Karin for such enlightening post.
    You are alive! And because you have the gift of life there’s always hope!
    My father used to tell me: When things get bad…I get worse…..
    I don’t know if the translation carries the strenght it’s suppose to have. All I know is that when many times, my life was spinning, just remembering his words would give me instant strenght.
    Un gran abrazo,
    Maria

    Reply
    • Hi Maria,

      Thank you for your kind words. Yes, people live in bubbles: it’s another version of what I was trying to write here! Some of us have really big and wide and accommodating bubbles because we have experienced things worldwide and seen so many different kinds of people and ways of life. But then some people are not so fortunate, or, as is the case here, I believe, people want their bubbles to be small on purpose. They are too afraid of what a larger bubble will mean for themselves, and so they narrow their bubble in so that the walls compress them, make them feel calm and in control. It’s like the device that Temple Grandin developed for autistic people, the “hug box.” Except in this case it is beliefs and thoughts that squeeze a person because they cannot handle the feeling of uncertainty and are threatened by it.

      Because I understand this, it makes me have to be the “bigger person” and confine my responses to writing blog posts about it, hahaha.

      And oh, I wish I were as bilingual as you think I am, lol. I really do. The strength I have with knowing smatterings of Spanish, Chinese, and French is that parts of my brain are more open and receptive, I believe. I know just enough to do damage, haha.

      BUT, here is the good news: I have a job interview for Wednesday, Oct 29 at 3 pm (here in Colorado), so send your good vibes and thoughts for a good interview and that it is a situation ideal for me and for the school. It’s for a teaching aide position for a special needs child in a middle school. I’m hoping for a good result!

      I think maybe your father’s words are something like “what does not kill you makes you stronger.” (It’s Friedrich Nietzsche who wrote that originally.) Or “when things get bad, I get tougher.” It’s a kind of “Warrior’s Call,” isn’t it. :-)

      Here’s un gros calin to you as well, and hope everything is going smoothly in your part of the world. Thank you for your compassionate understanding.

      xx
      K

      Reply

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