From mid-February through mid-May of this year, I experienced the humiliating, maddening, meaningless status of unemployment. I imagine that this status can kill a person. Perhaps physically. But more so psychically.
At its onset, unemployment brings bewilderment. Anger. Then quickly, a fierce desperation ensues. I have to make ends meet, to prioritize, to cut the fat. As a budget-ruled middle classer, I scour all receipts, study their financial application, look for non-essentials. I turn to those recurring bills of necessity and wonder: how the hell will I do this?
But it is the agencies of help that truly turn this time into a nightmare. I’ve written about this: the arbitrary decisions made by a high school grad that determines whether I will eat. The terrible unemployment insurance that penalizes professors and teachers, casting their application into a prolonged purgatory of adjudication. Community health insurance screenings that are so particular and demanding that three months, two appointments and pounds of paper later, I have yet to be approved, even though I’ve been without any medical insurance for three years.
Anger becomes the air I breathe and the words I exhale.
Anger at impotency, at invisibility, at the fucking inequity of it all.
But that anger can be a life saver.
It propelled me out of a state of dependence and caused me to look elsewhere. Schemes and possibilities emerged – a different life was appearing in a hazy outline. It was at this point, when I made plans, took action and disconnected myself from my former employer that I got the word.
I am working again.
I am ambivalent. Still, that first paycheck was a joy. Yet how do I re-energize the entrepreneurial spirit when it is doused by discussion boards and power points and educator workshops and deadlines? It saps me. It punches me back into that predefined mold of instructor. Time has shrunk. Ambition is a tiny thing glittering behind a cloud.