This year feels like a rolling fistfight and every day feels like I’m going to go down for the count for good.
I started the year by writing the obituaries for the best teacher I ever had, Drake University’s Bob Woodward, and the best writer anyone ever knew, Ken Fuson.
Then came pneumonia. COVID-19 arrived. The world shut down. The greedy corporate hustlers took away my job and ended my journalism career of 23 years.
That was all by May 1.
It all blends into a fetid soup after that. I continue to look for a job in the pandemic. I failed to find one.
I returned to graduate school at Drake with the idea of becoming a teacher. The classes gave me purpose early on, but the Zoom meetings drain personality out of everyone.
I am surrounded by bright, sharp minds, but the whatever sliver of the brain that craves face-to-face interaction is powerful.
I feel disconnected and estranged from people who are learning the same lessons as me at the same time because of the distance required by COVID.
And then there is the struggle to manage my longtime issues with mood disorders of depression and anxiety.
I take my meds. I meet with my therapist. And I lean, oh how I lean, on my friends.
I call some of them every day. I exhaust some of their patience with my incessant calling.
The impotent Congress, overrun by soulless grandstanders such as Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell, let any effort for a stimulus fail and let people like me and 22 million other Americans twist in the wind.
“Get another job,” the occasional wiseass says to me.
I’d love to. I spent nearly a quarter century doing a thing that is on the verge of being extinct. Since 2001, half of all the journalist in the country have lost their jobs.
I have applied for jobs every week since I lost my job, sometimes multiple jobs a day. I got two callbacks and one interview.
All I do is worry. It eats up my days and keeps me up at night. Will the new Congress get off its fucking ass and pass a stimulus? Will I sell everything I own and end up living in YMCA housing? What if I get the COVID?
And I can’t fight the feeling that I failed.
They tell you it isn’t personal when they lay you off. It’s not about performance.
And I know this. I know it’s about money. I made too much. I worked for 23 years and made a decent living, but my experience would have been worth at least a third more 25 years ago. I was born at the wrong time.
It sure as hell feels personal when they take your job away.
I’m insecure, probably more than most.
I never felt good enough. I always felt like a second-stringer who got a cup of coffee with the big leaguers.
Sometimes I let myself think I was halfway worth a damn, but in the end, I was trashed like a used coffee filter.
And I feel like a failure because I’m still unemployed, living off unemployment.
I know how society looks at people like me. I’m sucking off the government teat. I’m a drain on society. I’m a loser.
And you know what? That’s how I feel, deep down inside. I’m feel like a loser. A broke, 45-year-old loser.
And maybe it’s more than a little whiny.
But I’m not a person who does well putting a cork in his feelings. Right now, I feel pretty bad.
I hurt. I’m sad. I’m scared. And I need to get it out. I just want to acknowledge it. This sucks.
Am I gonna be OK?
I’ll get up Monday and go to school. I’ll write my papers. I’ll apply for jobs. I’ll do the best I can to survive and hope one day I’ll be able to relax enough to live.
I’ll be back with the jokes tomorrow.
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