Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
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Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains





























Life(?) of Trillian
Single/Zero

 
Friday, August 05, 2011  
Is the antonym of schadenfreude jealousy/envy or compassion?

I say jealousy/envy: deriving anger/sorrow over someone else's success or good fortune. Wherein both conditions of schadenfreude are opposed.

However, as was pointed out to me, that's taking the double negative approach to the definition, opposing both the pleasure and misfortune conditions of schadenfreude.

If one opposes only the second condition of the schadenfreude it could be: taking delight/pleasure in someone else's success; compassion.

Or, opposing only the first condition of schadenfreude: deriving anger/sorrow over someone else's misfortune; also compassion.

But apparently I'm an all or nothing kinda gal because I'm going with total opposition, both conditions opposite resulting in the antonym: Jealousy/envy.

Neither here nor there, really, but an interesting study in thought processes. And how opinions get misconstrued and communication can break down without intention and feelings get hurt.

I'm pretty sure there's a good country song in there somewhere.

Which is how this whole debate started.

A discussion over the best revenge/schadenfreude songs was taking place. As happens when hearts are broken and alcohol is a factor.

I have several contenders, but I always go back to the song that makes it feel good to feel vindictive about a former love.

Laugh, Laugh.

Yep, the Beau Brummels' classic. What puts this top on my list is the juxtaposition of truly vindictive lyrics set to a jaunty rhythm and melody with a chorus so mean spirited they come right out and regale in their schadenfreude: Laugh, Laugh, I thought I'd die, it seemed so funny to me, laugh, laugh, you met a guy who taught you how it feels to be lonely, oh so lonely. Yes. That's pretty much the definition of schadenfreude, n'est ce pas? (Yes, I'm still doing that, but I'm making great efforts to reign in my usage.)

And along with the vindictive schadenfreude there's a heavy dose of self-aware, self-acknowledged self-righteousness, it's spelled out right in the intro verse:

I hate to say it but I told you so
Don't mind my preaching to you
I said "don't trust him", baby, now you know
You don't learn everything there is to know in school

Wouldn't believe me when I gave advice

I said that he was a tease
If you want help you better ask me nice
So be sincere, convince me with a "pretty please"


Laugh, Laugh, I thought I'd die
It seemed so funny to me,
Laugh, Laugh, you met a guy
who taught you how it feels to be
Lonely, oh so lonely

Then it goes on to revel in the joy of the chick's misfortune in love and her realization that maybe she isn't all that and maybe she should have realized that sooner, before she dumped the good guy for a better seeming guy who dumped her sorry ass. (The Beau Brummels sing it more poetically)

Don't think I'm being funny when I say
You got just what you deserve
I can't help feeling you found out today
You thought you were too good you had a lot of nerve
Won't say I'm sorry for the things I said

I'm glad he packed up to go

You kept on bragging he was yours instead
Found you don't know everything there is to know


Laugh, laugh et al.

But if that's not enough schadenfreude and vindictive revenge for one song, they go on to add some sage advice mixed with the one caution that strikes fear in the heart of every woman who ever lived:

Before I go I'd like to say one thing
Don't close your ears to me
Take my advice and you'll find out that being
Just another girl won't cause you misery
You say you can get any boy at your call


Don't be so smug or else
You'll find you can't get any boy at all
You'll wind up an old lady sitting on the shelf


Laugh, laugh.


Oh yes, they say it. No mincing of words. You'll wind up an old lady sitting on the shelf. Coming from an old lady who has been sitting on the shelf for a few years, now, I can attest that, even though I like this song, that line packs a powerful punch. And I have never even behaved the way the storied girl in this song did. I've never broken up with a guy because I was lured by a guy who seemed better. And yet, still, that line always make me think, "I must have done something to wind up here on this shelf..."

And then they fade out with a trailing, 

Lonely, oh so lonely 

I'm pretty sure the first time I heard this song was on the Flintstones when the Beau Brummelstones blew into Bedrock to rock the local dance hall. I was a little kid and didn't have a clue what the song was about but I thought it was funny that the chorus said, "Laugh, laugh, I thought I'd die" and of course it's a catchy little ditty.

Then, when I got older and was held captive in the back of my parents' car and forced to listen to whatever my dad played on the radio*, my dad tuned in an oldies station and I heard the song again. Of course I didn't let on that I liked the song, or that thinking about the Beau Brummelstones made me laugh. I was about 13 and full of teen angst and loathing of my parents' for no reason except that I was 13 and being forced to listen to an oldies station. It was there, in the back of a Buick on a return cross-country trip to California, somewhere in northeastern Idaho, that I really listened to the lyrics and realized what a vindictive, mean-spirited, revengeful song it was. I'm not sure that I knew the meaning of schadenfreude at that point but I knew that the smug, self-righteous satisfaction of vindication it invoked felt pretty darned good, even if it was immature and wrong. I secretly loved the song, but in my own form of silent revenge didn't let on to my parents that I was enjoying riding through northeastern Idaho in the back of a Buick listening to an oldies station. Ahhh, to be 13 again. 

So many times since then I've silently played that song in my head. Usually after yet another break-up with yet another guy who dumped my sorry ugly ass for a prettier/funnier/wealthier/whatever-er girl. I now know revenge and vindication, and schadenfreude, are immature wastes of emotion. I'm ever so much more enlightened. But. For the few minutes the song plays there is a nice, um, release. The realization that these feelings are resonate with a lot of people assuages some guilt. I've discovered a lot of people like this song. Emotionally mature, well-balanced, nice people like this song.

Sometimes a little schadenfreude-sing-along** can be very cathartic.

After the antonym of schadenfreude debate was off the table (feelings were hurt) the passive aggression was heavy in the air so, ever the, "oh, come on, it's not that big of a deal, let's not let this bring down the night" cheerleader, I went back to the Beau Brummels/Beau Brummelstones and pondered who would be on the Flintstones if they were to bring the Flintstones back from the '60s with a 21st century flair?

Soon levity returned, the air cleared and the special guest list for the Flintstones of the modern era was compiled. See if you can guess which one was my suggestion.

Coldplay = Caveplay

Joss or Emma Stone = Joss or Emma Stone

Jennifer Aniston = Jennifer Granitestone

Drew Barrymore = Drew Quarrymore

Ben Afflick = Stone Affrock

Jack Black = Jack Blackrock

U2 = SiO2 (Okay, a bit too cerebral for the Flintstones, but still, you gotta admit, a good one.) (I, for one, would pay good money to see mullet-era Bono Hanna Barberafied in a shaggy-edged leopard toga. Speaking of schadenfreude.) 

Lonely, oh so lonely...




*"My car, my radio, my choice. When you pay for a car and the insurance you can listen to whatever you want." Which makes my dad sound like a brutish hardass, which he was not. It was more a matter of resolving the never-ending arguments between us kids about what we wanted to listen to in the car. My sister wanted all Beatles, all the time, my brother and I hated the Beatles, which always caused further arguments, so, the "my car, my radio, my choice" assertion was the easiest and most resolute solution my parents found to put a permanent end to that particular sibling argument. So yes, once again, we can blame the Beatles. (Speaking of emotional immaturity...   Sometimes I ponder what my life would have been/be like if my sister wasn't such a huge Beatles fan. I wouldn't have been forced to listen to them non-stop thought the shared wall of our bedrooms from birth to age 7. I wouldn't have developed such a deep, negative emotional response to "All You Need is Love" and therefore I might actually believe that all one needs is love. At the very least I would not have developed a visceral reaction to blaring trumpet intros. Were it not for my sister's huge (read: disturbing) allegiance to the Beatles might I even like them? Embrace them? Might I be more popular and less socially awkward? Might I have had more dates and less time to read and therefore be blissfully unaware of what SiO2 is?


**Schadenfreude-Sing-Along. Good band name.

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12:08 PM

Wednesday, August 03, 2011  
Wow. Okay. Um. Wow.

Well then.

Apparently there are a lot of people who are a) living in isolated bubbles of prosperity, and/or b) self-righteous, pompous assholes.

Yes, I have been unemployed 2 years. That's not to say that I have worked, or spent every waking hour pursuing employment. I worked several part-time jobs, I consult/freelance, I do anything I can to earn money. But. I do not have a full time job. I have now applied to over 2,000 jobs in every range of pay, skill-level and location feasible. I am not "holding out" for my former salary or rank. Apart from jobs in the cigarette, porn and meat packing industries (yes, they are two different industries) I am not picky about where I apply/work. Yes. I have even applied at fast-food restaurants, and, yes, if there was a Wal-Mart within realistic distance I would swallow my hatred of Wal-Mart and all that it stands for and apply for a job there. (Wal-Mart, the new welfare.)

I did not qualify for the storied "99 weeks" of unemployment, so I have been without assistance of any kind for quite a while. My severance, savings, 401K and everything of any value I owned are gone. I used all of my financial resources and sold everything I could to shelter, and when I could afford it, feed myself. 

I don't do drugs, I'm not an alcoholic, I'm not lazy and I'm not uneducated or unskilled.

I do, however, fall in the 36 - 52 year-old demographic where the majority of the long-term unemployed reside. Based on my age, education and years of professional experience the odds were stacked against me from the start. Big time.

But I am resourceful and creative and reasonably intelligent and I know a lot of people and I kinda hoped I'd beat the odds. Or, well, at least take the stats that comprise the odds and use that knowledge to navigate around the odds.

But.

So far, no full-time job offer.

And I know there are millions of others exactly like me, intelligent, professional, experienced, talented, nice people who do everything humanly possible to find a full-time job and: nothing.

However, since my previous post on my rules/vows/promises to myself about unemployment, I have been inundated with h8 mail. Even more than usual.

What I don't understand is why my (or anyone else's) unemployment plight invokes such venomous hatred.

The comments are not just, "eh, shut up and get a job at Wal-Mart or McDonalds you lazy bum, you and all the other unemployed people need to get a clue and get a job." That sort of comment - while ignorant, lacking in scope and depth of the issues behind unemployment and self-righteously dismissive - is to be expected. But the email and comments I've received in the past few days are abusive, including a couple physical threats. So far 23 people have suggested I kill myself, the prevailing reasons being that I am a waste of oxygen, contribute nothing to society, I have no children or spouse and therefore: as a few email counselors reasoned, I have "no real reason to live anyway."

To all those who have suggested suicide: Thank you for your insight. I don't talk about it, I don't post it in a public forum because it's personal and I don't want people to worry about me, but for the record, yes, I do consider suicide. Daily. Every night around midnight I think, "Well, there goes another day and you're still unemployed and still alive. Do you think it's worth adding another day to this dismal slog toward death or just end it now and put yourself and everyone who knows you out of the misery of worry and stress?" I weigh the factors including if my being alive is causing more worry and stress on my family and friends than my death would. Right now my mother needs some help recovering from a health issue, so right now, the answer to my suicide question is no. But she's improving every day and when she's well enough and the answer to my nightly question is yes, I know exactly how I'll do it. I've spent over a year working out the details of a fail-proof, fool-proof personal suicide plan. This is what I do on sleepless nights. And I know many other long-term unemployed people spend their sleepless nights in the same pursuit, especially us single long-term unemployed people.

And, it might surprise those of you who suggested suicide to know that thinking about it and having a plan, knowing it's an option, provides a lot of comfort and in fact kind of cheers me up. One of the worst aspects of long-term unemployment is the loss of control. Without money I have very little control over my life. I have no money to do anything. As I said in the earlier post, it's not living, it's existing, surviving. My life consists of: Looking for a job and breathing. That's it. Occasionally my mother or a friend helps me out with a diversion, a meal out, a movie, a road trip, but me, on my own, the only thing I can afford to do is look for a job and figure out how to keep my body safe and functioning. My physical being is one of the few things I still control. If I don't find a full-time job soon, suicide will be the only thing that makes me feel empowered, and knowing that I at least have control over that gives me some confidence. I do have at least one option left.

One of my former co-workers killed herself shortly after we were laid off. I know of two other confirmed suicides as a direct result of unemployment and several failed attempts.

Okay? There you go. It's not something most people want to know. But apparently, based on the h8 mail a lot of people think that unemployed people are worthless wastes of DNA, a blight on the economy and society in general and "we" would all be better off if they all just killed themselves.

And also for the record, I do not collect welfare, food stamps or any kind of medical assistance and I did not qualify for mortgage/housing assistance. Not that I'm too proud. A friend looked into it on my behalf, and, I don't qualify. I hadn't considered it, but when she told me she made a few calls on my behalf and found out I don't qualify, the question of whether or not I am too proud to use government assistance was a non-question. (And that homeowners' assistance program was a complete and total joke, someday I'll tell you about what I went through with that nonsense. Suffice it to say, it helped almost no one, especially the unemployed.)

As for my home, the value has dropped so drastically that even if I could sell it I'd still have a 20 years of a mortgage to pay. But that's a moot point because selling it is/has been highly improbable due to the glut of condos on the market in my neighborhood. In my building alone, right now, there are five foreclosures and eight others at ridiculously low prices. Seriously, there are new Buicks that cost more than the asking price of one of the units in my building.

So, there you go. The dirty underbelly of unemployment that I prefer not to discuss. But maybe I should have been discussing it more openly. Maybe my "keeping it to myself" plan is being read as apathy, laziness and stupidity.


I'm kind of surprised the depth of emotion the long-term unemployment problem invokes. Based on my post, it causes a visceral reaction in people.

And let's be clear, I do not care what these (or other people) think. None of the people who emailed me offered any constructive insight, suggestions or ideas other than the aforementioned suicide and Wal-Mart/MacDonalds suggestions.

Let me be very clear on this, too: I am not, nor have I ever been, looking for pity. I do not, and have not, ever blamed anyone for my unemployment. I am not looking for pity or a handout, I'm looking for a job. I have always taken full responsibility for myself, my career and my life. A little compassion - some empathy - would be nice. But I don't expect it.

If you have something constructive to offer me and/or other unemployed people, then please email me, I'll take any and all bits of wisdom, advice, ideas and insight. I will pass along helpful and positive words.

And you can continue to sling your hatred at me, I'm pretty tough, thick skinned, and I can take it. But. I would ask you to ask yourself one question before lashing out at me (or anyone else): What does what I'm writing/saying accomplish? Will it help the intended target or will it help me feel better to just get this off my chest? If it's just a matter of getting if off your chest, fair enough, but that's a self-serving purpose, one which might be better served by, oh, I dunno, talking to a trained anger management counselor about the true source of your anger. You see how I did that? I offered a little insight and a constructive suggestion.

The reason I'm publicly responding to all this h8 mail is that I have concerns that if my little post that was generally positive invoked such a huge hateful response, there must be thousands (millions) of people carrying around this sort of hatred and ignorance regarding unemployed people. And that concerns me. I know I'm not the only one who considers suicide on a daily basis. So I worry that someone will spew some self-serving, self-righteous insult at an unemployed person who happens to be teetering on the edge of "yes" to their suicide plan and that self-serving remark will serve as their final proof that by default of death, today is the day that is the last day of unemployment.

Like I said, I don't expect it, but a little compassion would be nice.

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10:56 AM

Monday, August 01, 2011  
Well, there it is. Two years of unemployment.

I'd like to say that time flew by. That it passed in a blink of an (lined with worry) eye.

But it didn't. Time has dragged treacherously slow.

A few weeks after I was laid-off the sting was wearing off and reality was hitting. I hoped it wouldn't be long before I found a new job, hoped I'd land on my feet, or at least on my one good, strong, healthy foot. But I knew, based on unemployed colleagues' and friends' dismal job searches, that it would most likely be a few months, maybe a year at worst, before I found a job. I took a long look at the reality of the economy, job market, housing market, the stock market and the local food markets and knew I had to budget very, very carefully assuming a little money would have to stretch many months, possibly years. I also knew what little emotional fortitude I had left would have to see me through those same months or, gulp, years. I told myself that since I'm a reasonably smart person I had to assess and plan for all aspects of "my situation" and make some smart plans, going on the assumption there would not be a quick fix and that there were some bleak days ahead - financially, emotionally, and every other -ally.

So I made a few vows/rules/promises to myself. I wrote them down on paper, as you do with all good, real vows/rules/promises. I review it occasionally, mainly when I lapse into a pit of despair and remember that I made vows/rules/promises to myself to use in times such as those when I lapse into a pit of despair. Or when I realize it's been two years since I was laid-off.

Yep. Two years. Count 'em. 24 months. And yes, yes I have had some short-lived part-time jobs and I've done some consulting, so technically I haven't been "out of work" for a continuous 24 month, 24/7 span. But. I haven't had a full-time, steady, reliable, livable-wage-income above poverty level for 24 months. I started working taxable income jobs when I was 16. Since then the longest span of time I've gone without a paycheck of consistent, reliable, regularly scheduled ilk was 8 months. And five of those months were by personal choice during a particularly demanding semester of college. So this is staggeringly weird for me. On a lot of levels. But I do pat myself on the back for having the presence of mind and foresight to write those vows/rules/promises at the onset of all this weirdness.

Recently someone asked me how I cope with "my *situation.*" Which was kind of unusual because most people stopped asking me any questions related to my unemployment, job search and mental health at about the 13 month mark. I guess when you hit that one year anniversary people kind of give up on you or figure you have give up on you and they just stop asking questions. Plus it's just kind of obvious that nothing's changed, you haven't found a job, and things are bleak and growing bleaker. And mostly I'm okay with being written off. I'd rather be written off than have people worrying about me. People felt sincerely bad for me and that made me feel responsible for their feelings. I felt I had to assure them that everything was okay, that I was doing okay, that apart from the financial stress I was mentally okay. I didn't want people worrying about me, especially my family.

So, when people stopped asking I felt like they stopped caring and therefore stopped worrying and that was kind of a relief. The little jabs at my credibility hurt, but I get over it. Every now and then someone says, "That guy from Bob's office finally found a job, he was laid-off about the the time you were laid-off..." voice trailing, lips smirking, eyes giving pointed wincing. The implication being that if that loser from Bob's office can find a job, surely you can, too, so if you don't have a job by now it's because you're not trying or there's something very wrong with you. I know, I know, that sounds like paranoia talking. But. Believe it or not, there are people who remain unscathed by the economy, joblessness rate and housing market. Many of these people are (were) my friends. Yes. They live in isolated bubbles of unreality, but, they do exist and they do have skewed opinions and ideas. And I don't want to be the one to shatter the illusion that anyone can succeed if they just try hard enough and believe, truly believe in themselves and their dreams. (Not surprisingly, these are the same people who used to tell me that, in spite of statistical facts proving the opposite, there is someone for everyone and my fairy tale was just taking longer to unfold. Not surprisingly they've stopped telling me that, too. Yeah, I'm a fairy tale and platitude killer, the shatterer of illusions and dreams. Some of my friends don't want me to be around their young children, they want to shelter their children from my brand of harsh reality. I wish I was kidding about that, but I'm not. Two of my friends flat out told me they'd prefer it if I didn't visit them because my "situation" is too depressing for their children, they don't want to have to explain why I'm still single, childless, unemployed and homeless. In fact they don't want to have to explain to their children that there is such a thing as being unmarried, childless, unemployed and/or homeless. Personally I think I'd make a good cautionary example, but hey, I'm unmarried, childless, unemployed and homeless, what do I know about good examples?)

Right. So. Someone actually inquired as to my coping technique. Actually, they said, "If I were in your shoes I'd have killed myself by now. You've lost everything, you have no life. How the Hell do you cope? Are you on medication?"

So, in case anyone's wondering how I, and a lot of other jobless people cope, here are my vows/rules/promises that keep me from either killing myself or lapsing into an incomprehensible vegetative state.


1) Do not refer to being unemployed as a "situation." Or a *situation.* I'm not 16 and knocked up. (yes, I know knocked up is an unPC term and I don't care, knocked up is knocked up) I'm not an alcoholic who just wrapped a car around the statue of the founding father in the local town square. I didn't make an error balancing my checkbook and write a bunch of bad checks. I'm not fighting off Great White Sharks while drifting toward the Bermuda Triangle in a life boat with two strangers one of whom is wanted for violent murder. I didn't get left at the altar. Oh wait, yes I did. That happened. But not recently. These are all bona fide "situations." Or *situations.* I "just" got laid-off during a recession so bad that most people (except elected officials) call it a depression. What's going on in my life is no different from what's going on in millions of other peoples' lives. It sucks, it's difficult, it's sad, it's a lot of things, but it's not an embarrassment or shameful predicament that requires vague allusions wrapped in "- - - "s or whispered *- - - *s.

2) Do not allow yourself to feel victimized.
     2a) Do not allow yourself to play the victim.
     2b) You are allowed to acknowledge that it sucks.
     2c) You are allowed to acknowledge these facts:
            2c i) In the months leading up to your lay-off the at-work passive aggression and bullying aimed at you (and a few others who were also laid-off) increased.
            2c ii)  And while, yes, many people in your company were also laid-off, most were your age, race, salary and tenure and of the same marital parental status. These are quantifiable, indisputable facts. There was solid demographic data of the laid-off employee base. You fell into the lay-off demographic. And further, there is solid demographic data on the still-employed employee base. So much so that several laid-off employees filed a discrimination case based on these demographic stats. It's unfair, it's cruel, it's probably illegal, but you work in an at-will state, you're not in a union and there's no such thing as wrongful dismissal. You're not a victim, you're a statistic. There's a difference.

3) Do not allow yourself to be a/feel like a prisoner of poverty. There are plenty of projects you've been putting off because you didn't have the time because of your insane work schedule. There are plenty of free or very inexpensive things to do in this life, no matter where you live. At the very least go to the library and start rocking through that list of books you want to read. And while you're there, pick up some DVDs of documentaries, even on the subjects that don't interest you. Use this time to educate yourself and broaden your knowledge base. Admit it, while you have diverse interests, you haven't exactly been devouring interesting information about the tiny island nation of Nauru or 17th century commerce.

4) Do not give-in to self pity. It's understandable and reasonable to feel sorry for yourself, you are not a martyr, you're not campaigning for sainthood*, do not repress these feelings. But do not allow them to consume you and for swut's sake do not wallow in them. Contain them to private moments, cry if you must, then take a deep breath of rational thought and move on to a higher level of enlightenment. 

5) Some clichés and platitudes are true and most are relayed with good intentions, take them in the spirit in which they are intended and try to eek out something positive from the comment. There are silver linings and there are some positive things about being laid-off. Losing a job has striking (and weird) similarities to losing a loved one. People say some weird and stupid things at funerals because they don't know what to say so they say something stupid like a cliché or platitude. You know this. The same is true with unemployment. So cut well-intentioned people some slack when they say something really stupid to you. 


6) You will cry. Probably a lot. And that's okay. This is a scary and depressing turn of events. And you are dealing with it as a single person. Which has some benefits. For instance, no one will ever know about your sleepless nights and crying jags.

7) There will be physical, mental, emotional and spiritual ramifications to joblessness. Do not beat yourself up when they manifest themselves. Brace for them, make plans for how to deal with them, even if the plan for dealing with them is "just roll with it, this, too, shall pass" because having presence of mind to realize it's a reactionary phase means that you are not so mired in the murk that you have lost touch with reality and common sense. 

8) If someone offers help, of any kind, accept it. Graciously. Pride schmide. Dignity schmignity. You're jobless, you need help. Deal with it. If someone is kind enough to offer help, you should be kind enough to accept it, graciously. You know what I mean, none of your usual "Oh! Thank you, that's so kind of you, but really, I'm fine, I'm okay, really, thank you, but no, I couldn't possibly accept...I'm fine. Really. But thank you." You are not fine. You are not okay. And you can accept. Really. You can. 

9) You didn't do anything to deserve this, and...you don't deserve this. Neither did/do the millions of other people who are jobless. This isn't your fault, and even if it were, you don't have a Way Back Machine nor can you reverse the spin of the Earth and turn back time. And even if you could, it doesn't matter because this isn't your fault. Tell yourself that over and over and over again, force yourself to believe it.

10) There will be rejection. Accept it maturely. Being laid-off is in itself a rejection. Luckily for you, you have a lot of experience in dealing with rejection. You could write a several volume encyclopedia on rejection. Of course it's personal, you weren't hired. But remember that a lot of other people weren't hired, either. Only one person gets to be accepted for a job, everyone else who applies is rejected. So while, yes, it's personal, it's personal to everyone who applied but wasn't hired, so, the rejection is spread across a lot of people. 
       10 a) It is an honor just to be nominated. If you get any response from a potential employer you have already succeeded far beyond a lot of other people. Give yourself well-deserved credit for making it past the trash can or delete button. Even if it doesn't end in a job offer, you were still a viable contender for a job and that's a huge stinking deal, especially "in this job market." Loads of jobless people tell scary tales of applying to hundreds of jobs and not even getting one interview.


11) Remember you're still you. Do not forget who you are. "Unemployed" defines your employment status, not you. You are still a daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend, all of which define you more than any job, and all of which matter far more than any job. You are still a sincere, kind, creative, compassionate, reliable, humorous, clever, friendly, talented, savvy, passionate, curious, warm, positive, supportive, respectful, honorable human being. And you are educated, professional and cram-packed with lots of impressive work experience and skills, and bursting with unique and creative ideas. And you have an impressive cadre of past professional projects to prove it. (And you have the word cadre in your vocabulary, that's gotta be worth something.) And you have dozens of colleagues and associates who volunteered, unsolicited, to serve as professional references for you. "Unemployed" ≠ unemployable any more than unloved = unlovable. 
So, yeah. That's how I've coped with 24 months of joblessness. I follow my rules. Some days are worse than others, but some are better than others. For me, the worst aspect of unemployment is not being able to make plans. Not just because there is no money, but also because I am forced to live day-to-day. I'm existing, not living, and that's a status I don't like. Even after 24 months I still have not been able to accept this, it's what causes most of the crying jags and sleepless nights. For me, life has never been about merely existing. But now I struggle to do something intrinsically meaningful each day. I try, but without money it's difficult. I volunteer, I read, I write, I walk, I listen to music, I talk to family and friends, when I can scrape together a little extra money I go to a movie. Mostly, though, I turn every stone I can find in my job hunt. I scour, sift, research, network and rack my brain for new ideas for finding and landing a job offer. There hasn't been one day in the past 24 months that I haven't done something, usually a lot of somethings, to find a job.



*Campaigning for Sainthood = awesome band name. Seriously awesome band name.

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12:24 AM

 
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