Archive for the ‘Story of My Life’ Category

The Latest in Corporate Contempt for Workers   2 comments

You’re not going to believe this. Then again, maybe you will.

Remember the job I was telling you about? Nine days of unpaid training and the need to pass a bunch of proficiency tests, after which we were to start a part-time, no-benefits contract job for $9.50 an hour? Today I received a notice congratulating me on passing the final test. Unfortunately, the notice then went on to inform me that the project has been canceled. Just like that. There will be no jobs for anyone. No reason was given.

I’m still reeling from the news. While it may not sound like much, in our current situation, this job was like a lifeline. True, it was a contract job, but the contract period was to be extended indefinitely, and we’re desperate for any kind of steady income. Also, while the pay was low and the hours limited, there was a clear path to advancement, which would have meant better pay and more hours in the future. Most of all, we have no other source of income right now. None. Which is why I worked my ass off during the training period, even spending precious time away from my critically ill Balou because I really, really needed this job to work out.

The job was scheduled to start today. When I didn’t hear from my supervisor yesterday, I was a bit worried that maybe I hadn’t done as well as I thought on the final test, but it never occurred to me that the whole project had been canceled. That there might not be any work at the end of the training period even after passing all the proficiency tests with flying colors (which, it turns out, I did) was never even mentioned as a possibility.
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Still Fighting   5 comments

Things are looking very bad right now, but I’m not giving up. I can’t give up because of the dogs. If it weren’t for them, truthfully, I don’t know. I’ve had a tough life and I don’t see it getting any easier. And I’m tired of fighting. So damn tired.

To be honest, when I got so sick last month that I thought I might die, once I got over being scared, it was almost a relief. Not because I want to die. I don’t. But because dying would put an end to all the pain and misery and worry and stress and fear and the constant struggle just to survive another month.

Obviously I’m still here, but that doesn’t mean I’m all better. I try to ignore the pain as best I can. I can’t afford to be sick and I certainly can’t afford time off to take care of myself.

While I have no freelance work at this time, I have been able to find a job. Not a good job, mind you. No, it’s another contract job. No benefits. Part-time. I’ll be lucky to pick up twenty hours a week and I’ll make less than $10 per hour. Before taxes. Speaking of which, we were able to get an extension on filing our tax returns. We don’t have a penny to spare right now, let alone the hundreds of dollars we owe the IRS in self-employment tax.
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Speeding Toward Disaster   Leave a comment

I was planning to write a few blog posts this week but I’m too weak, too tired, and too sad to focus on anything complex. Maybe in a few days.

I’m also scared. I keep thinking of my partner, our dogs, and myself in a car speeding toward a cliff. Unless something changes, we’re going to go over that cliff. And I don’t know what I can do to slow down the damn car, let alone put it in reverse.

Things were bad before I got sick and now they appear utterly hopeless. My partner continues to look for work but the job situation around here is pretty bleak. Either he isn’t qualified, or the job is only part-time and/or the pay is so low it would barely cover our rent, leaving nothing for our bills and food. On top of that, most of these jobs aren’t local. They’ll require spending two hours a day commuting, and he would be working over an hour a day just to cover the transportation costs. That’s a lot of commuting for a job that’s only part-time. But he keeps applying, hoping that something will work out.

My partner has a college degree but he can’t find a job that pays a living wage. Unfortunately that’s not unusual these days. I wasn’t surprised to learn that in 2010, over 43% of low-wage workers had attended or graduated college. Oh, and that other myth conservatives never tire of flogging, the one where most minimum wage workers are unskilled teenagers just trying to make a few “extra” bucks and gain much-needed work experience? Not surprisingly, that’s more BS. In 2010, just 12% of low-wage workers were under age 20 (down from 26% in 1979). And I’m sure a substantial number of those teenagers aren’t middle class kids living at home or attending college on their parents’ dime but young people working real hard to support themselves (like I was at that age).
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Sick and Desperate in the USA   1 comment

One of the things you worry about when you have neither money nor health insurance is what will happen to you in the event you become seriously ill. How are you going to pay for treatment? If you have an acute condition such as appendicitis, you can go to the ER and they have to take care of you. But what if it’s something like cancer or kidney disease? Something that requires prolonged, expensive treatment? All the hospital needs to do is stabilize you. Then you’re on your own.

Accessing medical care isn’t the only concern, though. How are you going to survive while you’re too sick to work? This is especially terrifying for the ever-increasing number of people keeping their heads above the water with freelance and contract work. If we can’t work, we don’t eat.

If you’re among the working poor who don’t qualify for Medicaid and you become seriously ill, you’re pretty much screwed. There is not much you can do. Which is why you tend to push these thoughts out of your head as fast as you can. Not much point in worrying about something you can’t change. Especially when just making enough money to scrape by consumes all your time and energy.

So, when I started experiencing some disturbing symptoms a couple of years ago, I did what most people without access to health care do: Hope it’s nothing serious. After all, it wasn’t like I was sick all the time. The symptoms came and went. And anyway, I had more immediate concerns. Like trying to keep a roof over our heads.
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Homelessness Averted   1 comment

A huge, giant, colossal THANK YOU to everyone who donated in the past week! You guys are truly lifesavers! Many thanks also to everyone who helped get the word out on Twitter and Facebook and especially to the awesome bloggers who asked their readers to lend us a helping hand.

As a result of your help, we will be able to pay our rent and utilities in February! I have also been able to buy more of my meds, which is a good thing because I’ve been battling severe depression (probably not entirely the result of my messed up brain chemistry). And, very importantly, we’ll be able to take care of our beloved Balou.

We’re treating him with nutrition, herbs, and other supplements rather than “conventional” cancer therapy. Even if we could afford surgery and chemo, which we can’t, I’d have difficulty subjecting him to painful, debilitating treatments at his age. We can’t be sure exactly how old our wonderful boy is given that he was a fully-grown adult when we adopted him, but he has to be at least 13 and could be 14 or 15. In other words, he’s already quite old for a dog of his size and breed. Our goal is to keep him happy and comfortable as long as we can. He was fading badly in December but has regained some of his strength thanks to the treatment your donations help make possible.

We now have almost a month to get back on our feet financially, and I’ll be spending every waking moment not occupied with the canine pack trying to do just that. Which unfortunately means this blog will likely be neglected a while longer. I will, however, keep you all posted on our situation. We’re currently still without work, but hopefully that will change soon!

Help! Facing Homelessness with 4 Dogs!   23 comments

This is the hardest thing I’ve ever written. And if I saw any other way out, there’s no way I’d be sitting here and writing this. Asking for help has always been very difficult for me, and if it was just about me, I probably wouldn’t be doing this. However, I have my dogs to think about. They depend on me and I’m trying real hard not to let them down. So here goes…

After barely making ends meet for a number of years, my partner and I are now in a position where we are facing homelessness. We usually manage to eke out a living selling our skills as freelancers, but during the last few months, work has completely evaporated. We spend all our time searching for jobs, but nothing has panned out.

We have also looked for work outside our field, but since we’re stuck in the boonies without a car, our employment opportunities are severely limited. Nonetheless, in an effort to leave no stone unturned, my partner did put in applications for two local just-above-minimum-wage jobs. Given that he has no experience in these lines of work and competition for any kind of job is beyond fierce around here, this is a long shot. Moreover, even if they do hire him, he wouldn’t get paid enough money fast enough to avoid eviction.
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Posted January 18, 2012 by Sasha in Poverty, Story of My Life

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The War on Drugs Is a War on Sexual Assault Survivors   6 comments

There are many good reasons to oppose U.S. drug policy and the abysmal failure that is our so-called war on drugs. As is often pointed out, the war on drugs isn’t really a war on drugs at all. It’s a war on people. People who use certain drugs, most of which were made illegal for political, not medical, reasons. But this post isn’t about the relative risks and dangers of illegal versus legal drugs or the history of the drug war. What I want to discuss is how our drug laws not only turn countless rape victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse into criminals, but dramatically increase the likelihood that they will be raped again.

Sexual assault is one of the most violating experiences a person can endure. The trauma is exacerbated by a culture that routinely blames, shames, and disbelieves rape victims, and a justice system that denies all but a very small minority of rape survivors the opportunity to hold their attacker accountable. Studies show that at least 80% of rape victims suffer from chronic psychological and/or physical conditions as a result of being attacked. It’s not unusual for rape trauma, especially when compounded by a hostile or dismissive community reaction, to trigger suicidal ideation, resulting in a drastically increased suicide risk for rape survivors: 1300% higher than individuals not victimized by crime and 600% higher than victims of crimes other than rape.

Consequently it shouldn’t come as a surprise that drugs and alcohol are commonly used as a coping aid post rape. A study examining a random sample of sexual assault victims found that 44% took prescription drugs (mostly sedatives, tranquilizers, and antidepressants) to cope with the attack. How many self-medicate with alcohol or illegal drugs? We don’t know. We do know that close to 90% of women who are habitual heroin or cocaine users are also sexual assault survivors. Many have been raped more than once. And nearly two-thirds were children when they were first sexually assaulted.
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