Monday, October 24, 2011

Third Time Homeless?

I am the verge of homelessness - again. I first went homeless, as some of you know, in mid-July. I was lucky to be on the streets of Madison, WI for only few days; I left Chicago the morning that I last left my lost apartment in Rogers Park.

After a month in Madison, I was again briefly homeless for about 48 hours in late August. A kind young couple in nearby Sun Prairie took me in for $300 a month. I just can't find work, however, and being without a car in sleepy Sun Prairie is not helping.

I thank God I was able to bring my laptop with me when I left Chicago. It's been a lifeline to a few donations and a small amount of income from web design, article writing and advertising sales. Not enough to keep me above water long, obviously, or I would not be writing this post. If I was living in a tree, I'd have enough money to survive on. As it is, however, I am not arboreal.

I've been hanging on with a bit of web work and donations from a few friends (the ones who clicked the PayPal button in the sidebar and gave up the cost of a premium cup of coffee), but the rent is due today and I won't get the money I'm owed by Google Adsense for another week. By then, it won't be enough even if I don't spend anything on food.

I don't know what to do. Every day is a battle to fight the urge to give up. After being unemployed for so long I'm becoming very discouraged. I've applied for all kinds of jobs, menial labor and white collar. Two employment agencies have not called me with work, even though I got top office jobs from some of Chicago's top temp agencies for years up to 2005. Honestly, I've had prospective employers see "Executive Assistant" on my resume and just suddenly stop speaking. "You were making $50,000 a year there," one said, "why would you want to work for $9.00 and hour here?" My response was, "Because that's $9.00 an hour more than I'm making now and I need to eat. I would be very grateful for the work." Her eyes just sort of glazed over. I made her uncomfortable. End of interview.

I have even applied at a gas station, convenience store, pizza restaurant, bar, and others. No return calls. There are positions I could take but am unable to get to because I am carless and there is no public transportation between Madison and Sun Prairie (about 12 miles east of Madison). I just want to work, but I suspect a few cases of age discrimination (I'm over 50), and if I hear one more interviewer tell me that I am "overqualified" I'm going to lose my mind.

I'm spending a lot of time looking for gigs on Craigslist, and pumping the monetization of my websites, but it's all dry or just a trickle. I sometimes find it difficult to concentrate. Worry, stress.

Perhaps a one-way bus ticket south, destination undecided at this point, before winter's teeth really sink into Wisconsin.

I'll leave you with an unsettling thought: The only difference between me and a number of you out there is that I simply have a head start. Some of you, I fear, are not far behind me on the path to homelessness. I pray for you and this nation, as I pray for my own situation.

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