Saturday, April 25, 2009

I'm better off?!? 3/10/2009

Here I sit at the unemployment office with the number 92. I have been here since 9:20 a.m. and it is now 11:50. Number 49 has just been called....I think I'll be here awhile. I stare around me, at the faces of my fellow comrades in arms trying to find our way out of the wilderness of a Post Bush Era. Let me say this now and clearly; I work hard, I am intelligent, I am proud of contributing to a workforce and community. So, I ask you, objectively, why am I sitting here? Anyone?

The reception desk is helmed by a pleasant looking man (yes, just one) who looks like he would prefer to be anywhere, including an uninhabitable planet, rather than here. I watch him attempt to direct and guide people and briefly feel much more happy. It dawns on me, for whatever situation I am in, I believe I am much better off than the lone receptionist. (I wonder, briefly, if there's a black market at the unemployment office for selling numbers 1-20. *note to self, find out if this is illegal.)

I try to read, blocking out the surrounding noise and give this up after a few minutes. Twiddling my thumbs, I wait out the seconds until I hear 92 called at 3:20 p.m. I walk, or technically sprint, to the desk with my letter to discover why my unemployment is being held up. Apparently the computer system lists me as having a new dependent each week, even though I am childless, unable to have children and keep pressing "no dependents" on the enrollment phone call each week. By my calculation, I should have at least 5 children by now, according to the I.D.E.S., (Illinois Department of Employment Security-as they prefer to be called). A child a week is quite a neat trick when you think about it and would probably prove profitable if it was true.

I leave after a 3 minute consultation and a brief computer correction, feeling more tired than I have a right to for sitting all day.

Here's the thing. For all of my bitching, the trip was well spent. I watched families come and go, for six hours, most of them with children to care for. I watched people who were working in their jobs, that clearly didn't want to be working in them. I watched laid off workers, struggling to get their unemployment benefits paid, while their previous employer contested it.

I had, no children to worry about, no job to dislike, and a generous former employer who was paying severance and allowing unemployment at the same time.

You think you have it bad....spend an afternoon at the unemployment office, excuse me, I.D.E.S, that's what they prefer.

Bad Day - 1/29/09

I have learned to mark my days as follows:
"Today was a good day"....."Today was a bad day".
102 days and 7 hours ago those sentiments (pro or con) carried an entirely different meaning for me. Having a bad day could possibly mean disagreeing with my boss, overdrawing my bank account, miscommunication with my husband or facing a traffic jam on 90-94 West. These days, having a bad day means the carefully constructed veneer, that fluffy and safe insulation, which comes with the generous gift of distance, is removed. In the first ticks of the clock, the first few seconds of the curtain dropping on the debut of a bad day I see the following set before me. A beautiful boy, always a boy to me, laying attached to artificial life. I see clearly, myself, standing to the left side of his bed, holding his hand and kissing him on his temple, still unbruised and soft, murmuring " who will miss me now Nick?" Everything about him still held warmth and color and made it almost impossible to pry yourself away from his side. The warmth is the devil that tricks you into believing, believing for a moment that the possibility of a way out of the hell you are in is plausible. I have become a seeker of cold, to avoid remembering the hope and beauty that warmth can hold. I don't remember leaving the hospital, getting into my car or driving back to my parents house. I know I got there, I just really do not remember the journey. I do remember staring, for hours, at the walls in my parent's living room and thinking, what now? How does this all work? I've been to the funeral of a father, a grandmother, a grandfather, an uncle and great aunts and uncles, but nothing prepares you for losing a younger member of your family, a nephew who has always filled the roll of little brother. How do you find solace, meaning, consolation or motivation to even care about searching for anything that would come close to making sense? I find anger, hidden in pockets of my heart, for the people that live because of him. Are they worthy of the gift they have received? Do they appreciate the sacrifice and life lost to allow them to celebrate another day? Did their families say a prayer for our family at Christmas? And then I am ashamed at myself because the sacrifice was not mine to make and is therefore not mine to question. I was raised "right" as they say. I was raised to believe in a god that has infinite wonder, wisdom and reasoning that surpasses any mortal understanding.......but today I do not care.

Today was a bad day. I remembered and I unraveled.