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Broken November 12, 2013

Posted by craftlass in life lessons.
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I kind of want to die. Don’t worry, I’m not suicidal or planning to take any risks (above the risks that we all take by eating and walking around and using the bathroom and such). I just can’t see a way out of being such a burden to people right now and be alive. I know, rationally, this is incredibly stupid, and these same people would be miserable if I was gone. I despise this feeling that I’m a vortex that sucks everything good out of the people around me.

I’ve been job hunting for a few years now and it’s the most demoralizing experience. Worse, it’s my fault that I’m difficult to hire. I have a very weird work history, not the kind that screams “reliable!” It’s probably hard for anyone in HR to parse out what my skills really are, especially as a lot of my skills are difficult to get into a resume and absolutely impossible to get onto a job application. I don’t have good excuses for gaps, I’m not a mother who took time off to raise kids (and we all know that returning to the workforce after that break is difficult at best) or someone who took time off to go to school. I prefer working for small businesses and that leads to a lot of instability. I took opportunities to travel when I could instead of getting some crappy job just to make sure these gaps didn’t occur. I don’t regret those choices at all, my life has been extraordinarily full of wonder and love and excitement. Unfortunately, it left me in a really bad place financially. I took things a little too far. I can’t change that.

People don’t understand broke. College kids always talk about being broke, but it’s a sort of broke that usually includes a roof over your head and access to cafeterias and no worries about how you will survive the next month (I said “usually”, there are certainly truly struggling students as well). That’s not broke. That’s not having enough fun money. Broke is worrying about being evicted and homeless, 24/7. Broke is realizing you can’t renew your driver’s license because of the fees, which then cuts down on the jobs you can apply for. Broke is your clothes falling apart yet still being worn because holey clothes are better than no clothes. For many people, broke is starvation. I’m lucky on that last part, my partner keeps us stocked with food, but then I feel terribly guilty eating it except for the one meal we share each day. This is bad, because on my best days I’m incapable of consuming the amount of calories I should to maintain my weight. Guilt is an appetite-killer for me as well.

I know why people don’t understand, because I really didn’t either. I remember friends telling me they were too broke to grab a pint and thinking, “That’s just $5 or soโ€ฆ Anyone can afford $5.” I can’t. I get it now and I apologize for dismissing anyone’s reality so cavalierly, I truly did not understand. I also spent years offering to pay for friends to come out and do things with me, and genuinely did not consider taking a friend out for a night a burden at all. So why do I feel so rotten every time a friend takes me out? Or buys me a gift? Actually, I didn’t feel bad until recently because I was sure that something would work out and I could reciprocate soon. That last bit of hope is long gone.

I haven’t even tried to do anything on the music front because I can’t support other musicians, the bars that still have original music, or the community as a whole right now. I believe in supporting those who support you and don’t like one-way streets at all. Between some serious personal problems and Sandy I lost my way in music and I don’t know how to find a new path at this moment.

The insane thing is that my preferred jobs right now would be the crap that most people supposedly don’t want. Well, ideally I’d work from home, but that’s an insanely high goal right now. I’d rather work nights if possible, and that means things like waitressing, bartending, and even retail are fine by me. I’m applying for lots of day jobs, too, but it’s very strange to now live in a world where the “crappy” jobs are extremely competitive. I don’t have 2 years’ experience waitressing, I just don’t, and I can’t magically have that. I haven’t worked in a retail store since I was in high school and that was only a temporary holiday job. It’s one thing to hear about how bad the job market is, it’s another thing to live it.

I’d be an awesome bartender. I know how to make a slew of tasty cocktails, pour a perfect pint of Guinness (a skill that very few in America have), and I’m basically an amateur psychologist anyway to both friends and strangers. I’m good-looking, too, not beautiful but charmingly petite in a way that disarms people and gets them to open up their wallets. That shouldn’t be a consideration, but I know that there aren’t too many bartenders around here who aren’t fairly good-looking, so it’s a bonus trait at the very least. I just don’t have professional experience. How the hell does someone start bartending? I haven’t a clue. Oddly, neither do the bartenders I’ve gone to for advice, except one said the path is though bar back. No one is going to hire a 5′ tall woman who weighs under 100 pounds as a bar back anyway.

If I was alone I could bear even the worst consequences, but I don’t live in a vacuum. I live with a man who deserves someone way better than me in every way. I’m terrified that I’m ruining his life and he’d be better off without me in the long run. He has never given me a reason to feel this way, this is all my take on things. He’s amazing and I’m ridiculously lucky in this area.

I’m definitely ruining friendships. The rare instances when I’ve made it out I’ve become this shrill person that I can’t stand to be around, let alone expose others to. Stress is changing my external personality. So, as I do, I retreat into my hole, turn off my notifications on social media and “fun” email, and just escape the world. Again, I know this is really freaking stupid but I’m just not pleasant to be around or talk to right now. I don’t want to catch anyone else in my web of misery and fear and trying to act like things are okay is exhausting.

The worst thing of all is that I’m not living up to any of my ideals. My life plan never included marriage because I didn’t want to be dependent on anyone. Turns out that you don’t need that piece of paper to feel dependent. Who knew? I never really had a specific career in mind but I sure thought that I’d have one by now. I did have one, once. I don’t miss that career but I miss the drive that created. I don’t do well without a goal to strive for, it’s just the way I’m wired.

The irony is that I work very hard, I’ve been designing web sites that I’m exceptionally proud of, especially the Danger Comics site. I tend to work better to deadline than I do to hours and I’ve fallen madly in love with working on these sites. My clients are an absolute delight to work with, creative geniuses who also happen to be the truest of friends. They just don’t pay enough to make a dent in my expenses. It’s okay, I offered to do these sites for low-cost because I hadn’t designed a site in years and I know what my clients can afford. I’d rather have some work than none, and I’d rather support people I admire than let their work suffer due to a lack of a good tech person. I stand by those choices and really have learned a lot that I didn’t know a year ago in the process. I’ve gained confidence as a designer and that’s priceless. I’m just not sure how I can expand on this in a way that will get me cold, hard cash in the quantities that life in the NYC metro area requires.

I’ve taken some advantage of this time in super-positive ways, too. I’ve finally started learning to play guitar, really play, not just strum some basic chords as I’ve been doing for the past 22 years. I’ve almost doubled my singing range in the past year. I’ve developed a great workout routine that has me feeling (and looking) great. I’ve been sort of giving myself a full makeover, inside and out, trying to stave off overwhelming depression and create something good out of adversity. My face (which has been covered in acne and psoriasis for the past couple of years, plus the beginnings of lines and wrinkling) is starting to clear up because I’ve made a point of taking better care of it. I’ve learned to apply makeup well and play the feminine game better (I may hate the game, but I still have to live with it and want any advantage I can get). The last two will fall apart if I can’t replace my dwindling products soon, but I’m really glad I’ve gotten this far. I taught myself to sew to finish off my Halloween costume and hope to learn more so I can eventually make my own clothing. I’ve been doing exercises to improve my brain as well and can feel them making a real difference. I’m working on my first novel and writing songs that I’m exceptionally proud of. In many ways, I am at my peak right now.

Some peak.

I keep having to remind myself that I have things to offer the world. I know how to do many, many things and they were almost all self-taught. I’m great with lots of pro-level software, from ProTools to almost everything Adobe makes with many stops in-between. I taught myself web design 3 times over at different points in tech history, using various technologies and languages from hand-coded HTML back in the day to fully-customized WordPress sites now. I’ve played both team and solo sports, which taught me how to be very competitive myself without forgetting to play nice with and support others. I’ve organized great events of various kinds from tiny to huge. I’ve made mistakes (who hasn’t?), but I’m a very determined person, and I will work on something until it is as flawless as the time frame allows, even if that means learning something entirely new to me to accomplish. At my one big corporate job I regularly fixed the tech issues that our IT department couldn’t or wouldn’t fix at the request of superiors, even though it was not even vaguely in my job description. I hate down time at work and will always try to find something productive to do before I’d consider, say, watching YouTube videos or browsing social media unless I’m seriously overworked and tired. I’m at my happiest when embroiled in a project. I live by Tim Gunn’s motto, “Make it work!” These are special qualities, in my humble opinion. I’ve seen how many people who make good money spend the whole workday posting to Facebook and Twitterโ€ฆ

But how do you get any of that in a resume or application? And if you could, it kind of looks like something trite you’d say to get the job, not the truth that it is. Remember in the 80s when the big buzz phrase was, “I’m a people person!”? It became a joke even though being a “people person” is key to succeeding in many arenas.

I’ve never been invited for an in-person interview without getting the job offer. I just can’t get in the door anymore. I’m willing to do anything but take my clothes off (which I’m kind of old for anyway, no matter how young I look), as long as it won’t kill my back (basically, as long as I don’t spend all of the day lifting very heavy boxes, but I can do some with no problem. UPS is out but retail stocking would be okay, for example). Friends who have offered to hook me up with jobs live at least 3 hours away, and I can’t relocate. I live right next door to one of the greatest cities in the world, a city known for being full of opportunity, and it just seems to have no place for a clever, creative, hard-working, unusual gal like me. Granted, I would much rather work on this side of the river, but I’m not silly enough to hold out for that possibility.

I have a few really good business ideas as well, but after trying to be a solo entrepreneur I’m aware that I need a partner, not just to complement my skill set (which does have gaps, as everyone’s does) but because collaboration is the only way to stave off tunnel vision and have a good sounding board. I don’t know how to find one on purpose, my former partners were all involved from conception. Also, you do need a little seed money and credit for any new business, even if it is a very little bit, and I’m tapped out in every way. I’m not embarrassed to say that I would need help to get something new off the ground, it’s actually a mark of how much I have grown since my early endeavors. Life is a marvelous teacher if you listen to the clues it provides!

I don’t want to be a part of this world if I can’t contribute to it. I don’t want to drag down the people I love. I don’t want charity or a handout. I just want to work. I just want to pay my damn rent on time again. I think that’s how the vast majority of people feel and right now there are millions of people in my country alone who probably could write large parts of this piece. I wish that was comforting knowledge but it just makes me sad and angry.

As I prepare to sell everything that means anything to me in an attempt to keep our home, things that are utterly irreplaceable, I am astounded at how little it all amounts to. What’s priceless to me is cheap to the rest of the world, even things that cost a lot when they were new. It feels like a metaphor for my own value.

I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I need to get this stuff off my chest for myself, but I also find that people really need education on what it is like to be unemployed. It’s so easy to claim that those without jobs are lazy, but that is the rare exception. The more I talk to people in similar situations the more I see how innate our desire to contribute is. The entire reason the human race has succeeded is our social predilection, it allowed us to develop these big brains instead of, say, getting faster or physically stronger than all the other animals. We get satisfaction from participating in our tribe, and the modern form of that is being part of the active workforce, our equivalent of being a hunter and/or gatherer. It’s the most natural thing in the world to value yourself by your contributions to society.

There are far worse fates than death.



1. Renee - November 12, 2013

Hi!! Have missed your online presence! *hugs*

This was a really powerful post that I think clearly explains the anguish that probably a lot of people go through.

I’m not sure if you’re looking for suggestions, but one thing that can really help you move toward a job is to do some volunteering in an area you want to get into. (like maybe help with an event that teaches tech/photoshop/mobile skills to underprivileged teens, or whatever you would enjoy doing that is related to skills you want to use in your future job). That would help get you some resume-building work, plus you can network with people that are in a field you want to go into.

Also, you’re clearly a good writer. Have you considered getting into a science communication type job? I can imagine you giving museum tours, writing for a science or music org, etc!

I hope you get back to your social media stuff soon! Not only do people miss you, but the networking and general camaraderie might be good for you (I know it helps me feel sane when I’m doing work at home alone), and you could keep your eye out for any opportunities that pop up.

Anyway, I’m not trying to just find some magic solution, I’m sure you’ve thought of everything, but hoping to spark some ideas for you. You have such talent and drive, I know something will work out for you, it’s just a matter of time.


craftlass - November 12, 2013

Hi!!! I’ve missed you, too! And, honestly, regret that we gave up on our shared endeavor, because working with women like you was so rewarding and inspiring. You’re often in my head as I work on sites, just knowing other women in tech gets me through the hard parts.

Thank you for both the compliment and advice, those are some really good suggestions! I’m currently writing sample pieces for a few blogs that do pay, fingers crossed that something sells. Even the more obvious suggestions you make are ones that I needed reminding on, because it’s true, isolation makes it easy to lose sight of even simple steps. I wish I could defeat that tendency and I’m looking for a therapist to help there. I worry that social media is part of why I don’t get calls for jobs, too, because I’ve been a little too honest in my oversharing. I’m a whole person, I like to have fun and I like to work and I like to share it all if I’m going to share anything. Society is going to have to adapt to this new paradigm but that takes time.

It’s so nice to “see” you again and thanks for never giving up on me!

Renee - November 12, 2013

Nice to “see” you, too! I was worried when you disappeared, but didn’t want to butt in. Sometimes people need a hiatus.

I think you communicated really well here, and people that won’t hire you are stuck in the “old way” and not open to just spotting talent and potential.

Glad to help in any way! And I’m glad you didn’t take my suggestions as “preachy” since I was worried it would come across that way.

P.S. If you just want to “watch” Twitter for a while (I don’t know how that is possible though haha). I have been building up a list of women in science and tech, and have over 1000 people in it now!!

Seeing women in professional tech roles inspires me, too!

craftlass - November 12, 2013

I really appreciate that whole sentiment, because one of the most difficult things for me is to come back to being social. I’m always so worried about being rejected, and don’t blame anyone who does get annoyed with me for pulling the disappearing act. Knowing that I now have friends who understand and accept my quirks has changed everything in such a positive way! It’s part of why I wrote this. There is no good excuse for my behavior but there can be increased understanding. I like quirky people in return, and the fact that we have managed to find each other through tech makes the world a better place for us all, IMHO.

Sadly, the “old way” is going to be around for awhile. The thing is, rationally, I think that I wouldn’t be a great fit for a company stuck in the old ways on many levels, so maybe that works as a filter for bad fits? Hmmmm… Maybe there is a positive in this!

Thanks for the list, I hope that lots of people see it here and check it out as well! I seem to be getting a lot of hits today… ๐Ÿ™‚ I think the female tech community is pretty darn wonderful, it’s the first true women’s support system I’ve ever found within a field, male-dominated or not. Amazing. The exact opposite of the music business. I know, it’s not across-the-board, but it’s what I have personally experienced and it makes it a lot easier to survive while blazing our individual trails. A beautiful thing!

somnastra - November 13, 2013

All I know is that even though I also go through periods of absences as well, I miss interacting with you. There is no resentment that you’ve been gone, just excitement when you come back.

And I know something of what you’re going through right now (I’m having some trouble finding employment), although my situation is not near as dire. I don’t know if I can do anything to help (I don’t know of any job opportunities near where you are -_-*), but I don’t think I know anyone more creative or driven, and I am rooting for you so hard it hurts.


craftlass - November 13, 2013

Awwww, shucks! It’s exciting to hear from you, too! And I can’t promise I’ll never disappear again, but I can promise that I will always welcome you with open arms when we meet, virtually or IRL. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m sorry that you’re having trouble, too, and I hope it doesn’t ever get to the point where you have to be this stressed about it. It’s extra-tough mentally right now, I think, because we’re all well aware that a lot of people are desperate (whether unemployed or underemployed) and this is not a case where having good company makes it better. It makes me angrier. There are too many talented people languishing and that helps nobody. Best of luck in finding not just any job, but something that is a good fit!

I used to make a point of voting with my money. I haven’t shopped at Wal-Mart in over a decade because I think they’re (one of a group of companies) trying to create a permanent poverty class in America, for example. I try to spend my money at small locally-owned stores unless there are no alternatives to the big chains. I don’t believe that having more stuff gives you a better life, unless that stuff is what you need to live. The thing is, when you don’t have money, you can’t make such an effort. That hurts our communities, and when communities are hurting, larger society pays.

We need a way out of this loop, across much of the globe. I wish I had some concrete ideas beyond expanding entrepreneurial opportunity. For now, I’ll just be glad my state voted to raise the minimum wage. Gotta celebrate the little victories!

2. Renee - November 12, 2013

P.S. Thanks for being so forthright and honest about your feelings. Not many people do that.

Paulina - May 15, 2017

Thanks, Cake.liThanls, Kay.Yes, one of them is banded. I don’t have a better picture. Possibly I should go back and see if I can get a clearer picture of any that have bands.

3. Renee - November 12, 2013

Oh, and with your music and web design skills, have you considered doing something like this to make some side-money until your dream job comes along?


4. Montse - November 12, 2013

I just want you to know that I love you and you inspire me. *hugs* ๐Ÿ™‚

craftlass - November 12, 2013

Right back at you! In fact, when I lose all hope and think the world is going to completely fall apart, I think of you and I find that sliver of hope again. ๐Ÿ™‚ Like a permanent silver lining glinting through the storm.

5. mgrabois - November 13, 2013

Hey K – first off, please never use “I kind of want to die” again, even if you’re just joking or exaggerating. It’s a scary thing to read and things are NEVER so bad that you should consider that an option. You’ve used up your one free joke about that, mmmkay?

So glad you’re feeling better today. Depression can be so crippling, but remember that you’ve got a non-toxic support system out there. Don’t be too proud or egotistical to not ask for help when you need it – you’re always there for others, so why not let others be there for you? I wasn’t in quite as bad financial status as you, but I was running dangerously low in my bank account (didn’t have to sell anything to eat or pay my mortgage), and I *finally* found a job after more than 2 years of unemployment (just started last week!). I know that Sandy took a toll on you – you thought you might have even had PTSD last time we chatted – but once you’re rid of the bad people in your life the ones that are left are the ones that will be there for you when you need them.

craftlass - November 14, 2013

First off, okay, I get your point and I will agree to those terms. Honestly, the opening just popped into my head and prompted me to write the whole thing (as most of my writing begins, a sentence/line or two gets stuck in my head, like a seed). But I take your point. And it was truly never an OPTION. I could never, ever do that, to myself or to others. I’ve lost a few friends that way and it’s the worst way to lose someone. I was just trying to show how it felt like that was the only way my problems would cease in the moments leading up to sitting down to write.

Of course, what I learned is exactly what you wrote here. And I needed to “hear” it again, too, so thanks for that and for being one of those non-toxic people. I don’t think it’s so much pride or ego getting in my way as my over-the-top desire to help other people and ask nothing in return. That’s part of what got me in financial trouble in the first place, I did too many things for free or even paid to do them because I deeply believed in the cause at hand. But, no regrets, just determination to get back to a place where I can be useful to others and maybe even take on the challenges that I’d really like to be tackling.

I am so thrilled to hear that you got a job! That’s the best news I’ve heard in ages!! We need to catch up, I want to hear all about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have probably had some PTSD issues and am on the hunt for a therapist, I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I’ve experienced a lot of trauma in life, some of it far less obvious than things like Sandy and losing my mother, and it’s time to fix that. The weird thing is I haven’t felt depressed for a long time, just panicky about the logistics of my life, particularly when a bill arrived or the landlord called. So panicky that I didn’t want to spread that energy. Silly me, panic dissipates when you expose it to the air! I should know that by now. But some lessons need repetition, as I’m sure you will agree. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m still shocked by the goodness of people, no matter how much I write about how good people are. It’s such an honor and pleasure to have you in my life, and you’ve made my life amazing in so many ways.

6. Catherine - November 13, 2013

Just want you to know that I’m thinking of you and miss you! I wish I could offer you something useful, rather than saying that I know exactly how you feel. I was lucky enough to pull out of the funk when I got a job in the last place I imagined I would (back home), and then met Victor. Keep your eyes and your options open, and don’t lose your spirit–that’s the most wonderful thing about you. BTW, what are the “dwindling” products you were speaking of?

craftlass - November 14, 2013

Thanks, Catherine! I miss you too and think of you often, even when I’m in total hermit mode. Heh, that is so true and your story gives me hope! That’s a lot of why I wrote this, I know a lot of people who have struggled (to varying degrees) and there are not enough voices talking about the emotional cost of not having enough to just scrape by. I love statistics, but anecdotes and first-person stories are more useful tools in education on social issues (according to scientific studies).

I hope everyone who is struggling winds up with a great silver lining like you did! ๐Ÿ™‚

As for products, I’m out of face powder, but have a bit left of everything else, so I’m okay for now. Boy, it sure is crazy how much more makeup and moisturizer it takes to look “natural” when you hit the late 30s! lol

7. stu - November 13, 2013

nasa is looking for a few good people to help prepare for the mars mission…heather archuletta (@pillownaut) recruits for the program…lay in bed and get paid 15 k…i’ve missed your posts too,but honor your privacy…hope things take an upswing…you have many endlessbbq friends:)

craftlass - November 14, 2013

In theory, that would be so cool. But I would probably hurt someone within an hour if I had to lie in bed, awake. I’m a bundle of energy, y’know? I don’t even like sitting for very long and have to get out of bed within minutes of rousing. lol

But that’s a great suggestion and I encourage anyone who might see these comments and who could handle it to get in touch with her, because it’s really a great thing to do for our future! Thanks for the heads-up!

Thanks for your message, too, that means a lot. Things are already looking way up, amazing how life can change in a day when you open yourself up to it!

8. OV105GirlEngr - November 24, 2013

Hello Amazing Woman – like mgrabois, I too got worried after reading your first line here. I am glad you are not serious about such things, and understand your point. I have been a social media hermit for over a year. I miss the interaction with dynamic people like yourself. I often think of you and other space tweeps and endlessbbq and feel bad that I’ve not kept up the relationships.
It is so disheartening to hear how hard the job market has been for so many of my friends during the last few years, I can relate as well…. being unemployed for 10 months and having to rely on credit for the last few months of that was pretty nerve wracking. Then I jumped into a job that I thought would be good, but turned out to be depressing because I wasn’t using any of my engineering skills.
Sorry for the ramble…just want you to remember you are not alone and we are rooting for you. If you are truly interested in bar tending (at least as a stop gap) there are bar tending schools.
Hang in there and let me know if I can help.

craftlass - January 17, 2014

Hello, fellow Amazing Woman! I just realized I never replied to this!! This is why I shouldn’t approve comments on-the-go. lol It is so good to her from you!

I’m sorry it’s been rough for you, too. I can’t imagine what it is like to have trained so hard for a job that just… disappeared. Crazy how you can do everything right and still wind up in the wrong job, or the wrong place. It’s not as simple as working hard or being smart, wish people were a little more honest about that just so things would be less demoralizing. There are so many factors out of our control and everything is constantly evolving.

I’m looking at bartending schools, but I am so loathe to take loans or anything for school, so it is not an option at the moment. Luckily, I’m starting to get some work in design, and it turns out that I not only enjoy the work, but apparently I’m pretty good at it (not that you can tell by my own outdated sites lol)! I hope that you can find ways to live your passion again, even if you can’t find your dream job again right off, that you get to use your hard-won skills on something you are proud to do again.

You hang in there, too, and let’s chat soon. We clearly have a lot to talk about! One of many reasons I don’t regret some of my silly choices is I got to get to know you. As MasterCard would say, PRICELESS!

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