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I lost my job in 2009.  I never applied for unemployment...(at least, not before I no longer qualified for it).  I've therefore never been counted in the BLS statistics.  I was never a first time applicant for UI benefits.  I was never a 99'er.  I never made it onto the rolls, and never dropped off of the rolls. Nobody has ever called my household, as part of the Household Survey, to ask me any questions about what I'm doing, or how we get by.  I'm invisible.  I don't exist.  I didn't exist before, and I sure as hell don't exist now.  My wife, as much as I love her, finally came to the same conclusion.  There's no future in me.  I can't blame her for coming to that conclusion.  I'm only surprised it took her this long.

It is a funny thing...no matter how much you anticipate the other shoe falling, it always catches you by surprise when it finally does.  My wife called a realtor last week.  She has decided to sell the house.  It's her house...she bought it before I met her and married her.  When we did marry, she and I would be the first to admit that we did so out of convenience.  We both had a couple of marriages under our belts (though, if we're keeping score, she had three)...and neither of us were in any way laboring, at that stage of our lives, under any romantic burden of ideal love.  I was working, and she wasn't.  I had medical benefits that I could, for a slight nominal fee, extend to her.  She had (has) medical issues that were costing her through the nose.  It only made sense.  Once I lost my job...I lost my ability to provide.  I don't want to suggest that that was all I ever meant to her.  I know that's not the case.  But at some point, a person cuts their losses.  And she is cutting hers.  It's not unexpected, but neither is it captured in any of the countless statistics compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

An unemployed man, who was never counted among the unemployed, who grew discouraged and dropped out of the labor force, but never got counted in that group either.  I exhausted my savings before I exhausted my pride...and when I finally applied for UI I was told I had waited too long, and they didn't have any record of earnings within the previous 3 quarters upon which to base an unemployment benefit.  When I suggested, then, that they just give me the minimum...they said they couldn't do that either.

The problem with a marriage built upon convenience is that the day not only might, it probably will, arrive when it no longer seems convenient.  Things can change, as Don Henley wrote, in a New York Minute.

How did I manage to squander my life?  How did I manage to take the White Privilege (a term much beloved here) that I was born into, and turn it into shit?   How did I become the loser that I am?  I don't know.

When I met my future and current wife, she was 53 years old.  She was no longer able to work, due to her traumatic brain injury.  It didn't affect her ability to converse, or read, or her intellect in any way.  Just her ability to do certain things.  Reading and following a recipe, for example, was and is pretty much outside of here scope.  Ask her about history, or etymology (she speaks four languages) or politics, and she's as sharp as a tack.

She also smokes dope like it's going out of style.  When I first met her she was traveling to downtown Portland and cruising the riverfront whenever she was in need of pot...hooking up with whomever was selling.  Mind you, Portland's riverfront is not a particularly seedy scene...it is a green space that is frequented by all kinds of people...including those who sell pot.  She took me there once, before we married, and I watched her roam up and down the waterfront until someone approached her and asked if she was looking to buy some weed.

It was not a good experience for me.  In my White Priviledged experience this was not the way you bought pot.  I found her a source through a friend where she didn't have to go through that dance.  For a 50 something woman to go through that for a half ounce was just bullshit.  There were times when she was followed...and there were times when she found a stranger she thought was a good source, who she allowed to come to her house, and who ripped her off.  

I determined to ween her off of buying on the street...I knew I would never ween her off of buying, though.  One accepts those things.  I found her a good, safe, reasonable source.  The funny thing is that I don't smoke.  Pot, that is.  

When we met, I was able to facilitate things.  Pay for things.  Bring some value to the relationship.  I was working, and things were good.  We were never living the high life, but we were living the life, and all was good.  When I lost my job, I lost my ability to be a man.  The BLS doesn't measure such things.

The BLS doesn't know about me, and I don't know about the BLS.  And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.  When my pride and my money ran out, and I finally picked up the phone to call the Government and see about some help, they said they had no record of me, and basically hung up.  Buh-Bye.  It was a bit of a shock, but I said...well...you've only yourself to blame.  And it's true.  I should have applied as soon as I was let go.

I never thought it would last as long as it has.  I couldn't believe it happened to me.  I was ashamed.  I looked for work after the shock wore off, and found nothing but no responses to my letters and resumes. A second wave of shock and despondency set in.

I withdrew...frightened...insecure...chastened by the steepness of the slope in front of me.  Time...precious time...went by.  

I don't know what awaits me now.  I only know my wife won't be there at my side.  She's not leaving tomorrow, but she's leaving.  Going back home to Israel, where she was born.  I can't blame her.  And she has a son and grandaughter there.  What does she have here?

Me?

That, and $1.25, will get you a cup of coffee.

This will be my Ta-Ta For Now diary, folks...not because I have grown disaffected with this place.  I just need to refocus on my life at present.  I need to get back on track, if it is at all possible.  It may well be too late for my wife and me...but that still leaves me.  

Whatever happens, you can be assured of this.  It won't be reflected in the BLS reports.  It never was, and it never will be.  I have been a critic of Obama in the past...mostly because he filled me with such hope and I still find myself hopeless.  I can't blame all of that on the president, but it did color my enthusiasm over time.

When I look in the mirror, though, it isn't Barack Obama I see looking back at me.  It is myself.  A little bit older, a lot poorer, and still unemployed.  I don't blame the president.  I think he could have done things differently in a few junctures, and I wish he had.  My disappointment is mostly with myself, even if I have directed it on occasions towards the president.  I don't let myself off the hook, nor do I excuse him on a few occasions.

Come next summer, I don't know where I will be.  I don't think the president has such concerns.

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Comment Preferences

  •  How easy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hnichols, weck

    Is it to get weed in Israel?

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:29:55 PM PST

  •  Does she really want to leave? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hnichols, weck

    You have to stay given up on love?  It's really too late?

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:31:35 PM PST

  •  Wherever you go, Keith (9+ / 0-)

    whatever you end up doing, I wish you well and can safely say that you will be missed.

    Of course, there is no need to actually go anywhere unless you feel you must.

    The fortunes of many folk vary, often for the worst in the current climate, and your writing has graced this site.

    You have my best wishes.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:32:14 PM PST

  •  I understand, Keith (5+ / 0-)

    and check your Kosmail.

    -7.75, -8.10; Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Dave in Northridge on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:52:05 PM PST

  •  You're not invisible ... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greycat, Melanie in IA, hnichols, weck

    ... to those of us who look forward to your diaries.  Out of sight, i grant you, but certainly not invisible.

    If memory serves (and it may not), don't you have a sister you're close to who went through something similar not long ago?  Did you say it changed the Thanksgiving plans this past year?  If so, i doubt you're invisible to her either.

    The neighbor with the long grass and the neighbor with the great ass, all of the neighbors, in fact, who you look in on, take things to on a regular basis ... they see you as well, and you them.

    This must be a wrenching time, and i truly am sorry it's happening to you.  You'll be missed here.  I hope you won't stay away for very long.

  •  Aw &%*$ (5+ / 0-)

    50+ and unemployed is a real bitch. Losing a wife, or even a long-term companion is also a real bitch. Both at the same time can be devastating.

    Been there, and I feel for you, brother.

    I have little in the way of advice beyond taking care of yourself physically and emotionally as best as you can, and staying away from self-destructive behavior.

    Poor people have too much money and vote too often. Republican platform plank, 1980 - present

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:58:17 PM PST

  •  Before I leave I need to give a shout out (8+ / 0-)

    to Muskegon Critic...you have never penned a diary that I didn't like...please continue

    To Denise Oliver Velez...I wish we could have the discussion you try to initiate.  I love you.

    To poligirl...I love you too,  Thank you for being you, and doing your diary for as long as you did.

    Joanneleon...you rock!  Seriously...you rock!

    Joeshikspack...Joe...I love you, man...I don't know what ails you, but I hope you overcome it.  You are what I think of when I think of DKos.  Don't ever quit.

    Dave From Northridge...you are a sainted soul.  I am agnostic when it comes to Gay marriage...but not when it comes to you.
    When I read your diaries, it makes me pause and think.  Your heart is an inspiration, and I can only aspire to it.

    Commonmass...your sense of humor and your erudition attracted me immediately...I wish you and your spouse the very best, and longevity.

    CrashingVor...I always wanted to do a joint diary with you...on the rise and fall of FM radio.  It would have been a good one.  Love you, man.

    Land of Enchantment:  I subscribed to DKos because of you.  I can't explain it...but you made me want to belong here so many years ago.  You sealed the deal.  You don't diary as much as before, but you were the one who made me want to be a part of this community.  

    Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:36:30 PM PST

  •  All the best to you, Keith. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hnichols, weck

    I get to choose, and I choose love.

    by Melanie in IA on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:57:40 AM PST

  •  Keep the faith brother. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hnichols, SpecialKinFlag, weck

    That New York minute can work in any given direction.  Peace.

    "Differences in political opinion are as unavoidable as, to a certain point, they may perhaps be necessary." George Washington

    by civil wingnut on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:04:29 AM PST

  •  Well, you're on the right track. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hnichols, weck

    Maybe this site is a place you visit every now and then to recharge your batteries because it looks like you have some friends here.

    Either way, good luck with taking care of business. I don't think you're alone in feeling that you've squandered your life. I've felt that way before and it can be very meaningful and fulfilling to take ultimate responsibility and fulfilling for your life and put it back together.

    If I might go so far as making a suggestion, it might be helpful to volunteer with an organization you believe in. Not only will that get you back to doing something you feel is useful, it will allow you to meet people in a field you are interested in.

    Again, a sincere good luck and good wishes for you. I think you'll be fine.

  •  Hey Keith, don't go. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck

    You contribute a lot here at Kos. You can also receive a lot of moral support and even some monetary support. I very much enjoy reading your diaries and this one was certainly no exception.

    I didn't know things were going so badly for you. I lost my job early in 2011 and was unemployed for a year and a half. I did draw unemployment which was way better than nothing. I will spare you the details of my hardships because you have already experienced that firsthand. I might add that I was 62 when I was laid off for the first time in my life.  Not exactly a prime age to find a job. I did get lucky and managed to get hired recently and although our life is still a shambles we are trying to put the pieces back together now.

    I have to say that I kept trying even when it seemed impossible. I continued to send dozens of resumes into the black hole never to be heard from again. My wife got mad at me because I wouldn't give up. I am the most cynical person alive today but I just kept thinking that someone would hire me if I just kept trying.

    So keep trying at life and don't give up don't leave Kos because we have lost some good diarists lately and we don't want to lose another.

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