Deus ex machina

But we also need the possibility of cataclysm, so that, when situations seem hopeless, and beyond the power of any natural force to amend, we may still anticipate salvation from a messiah, a conquering hero, a deus ex machina, or some other agent with power to fracture the unsupportable and institute the unobtainable.

Stephen Jay Gould, Questioning the Millennium

I wake from dreaming of disappointment to begin anther day searching for work. In moments of optimism I look for meaningful work; work that would challenge my mind and heart and support my family. Most days I look for anything that fits. I read article after article on the best way to search; I read story after story on how to stay focused and positive during the months years it can take to find a new mid-life job. I draft what I believe to be good cover letters, tweak my resume and send them off into the ether directed to nameless email addresses (no phone calls please is de rigueur) or fill in legthy online forms and press send. Occasionally I get a thrum of hope; very occasionally.

Meanwhile, resources are drying up. Dollars are dear, I look for quarters in the seat cushions. I factor in my head how long I can survive without income. Shampoo, toilet paper, laundry detergent achieve luxury item status. Talking with friends becomes a chore. Normal banter about going to see or do, or going out to eat or making plans for the future makes my heart pound and my mouth dry. “How are you doing?” I choke out “Fine, I’m good.”

There is no way I can say what my life feels like at this moment. All the fine words and thoughts and feelings I used to be able to express so easily turn to ash when I try to speak.

I try to explain to my mother how this feels; she tells me she knows. When I was an infant, my brothers 18 months and 6 years old and my father in the mental hospital she tells me they had to go to the Red Cross for help. Memories of childhood despair flood my already depressed brain. I remember this. Even from infancy, I remember. I remember my mom’s sadness, my parent’s voices arguing at night, the way the relatives looked at us, the way my mom mixed instant milk with real milk to make it last longer. I remember the plastic taste of government cheese and feel of never enough and never enough.

Work hard; don’t want to much. Don’t be too happy. Don’t expect too much. Why didn’t I listen? Except for the hard working part I never got it. I wanted to be happy; I expected love to be returned and hard work rewarded. For decades, in spite of spectacular disappointments, I still believed.

It is only now, after Five, that my brain and my heart say no more. Don’t want to much. Don’t be too happy. Don’t expect to much.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pamajama
    Apr 04, 2008 @ 09:44:51

    I don’t know what to say but I can’t leave this entry with no comments. You write so beautifully. Comparing your own situation now with the past is an overwhelming and heart-wrenching picture. I would hire you, if I was a personnel chick:) Maybe you should show them this blog, as it captures how responsible and intelligent and wonderful you are, and then they would be like, “Oh my goodness, why didn’t we hire you a long time ago?”


  2. fivehusbands
    Apr 04, 2008 @ 13:08:49

    Pam, Thank you for your commenting from your heart – in times like these it helps to know you are not invisible. I had applied, at the recommendation of a friend, for a position with a nonprofit that essentially required digesting policy into writing for use by other nonprofits. I couldn’t think of a better job for me – the search firm, however, wouldn’t even put my resume out there (and I have a pretty impressive resume).

    That experience led me to write the post – “Poverty, Compassion and Advocacy” which I use as a writing sample.
    But is is a daunting task to find work these days, especially in middle age in the rust belt.

    Again, thank you for reading – it gives me hope.


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