It’s terrifying to be facing the holidays without even the prospect of a job. At least last year I had a seasonal holiday retail gig. With all the wonderful support I get from friends and Twitter followers (“You’re so fantastic, it’ll happen for you any day, I can’t believe you’re single AND no one will hire you, you’re amazing!”), it is beyond soul-crushing and so very hard to keep my head up.
I try to stay positive, I try to believe in my talents and abilities, I try to remain ever hopeful that this nightmare will end so I can return to my dream job. I live in a state of constant frustration and money stress. I’ve lost weight and hair. My unemployment payments are a fraction of what I was pulling in from the social media job I had from January to August. I have been dragging myself through this Bataan Death March of a life and I am exhausted.
I know I’m not the only one struggling. I know there are other unemployed single mothers out there who are waiting for their SNAP benefits to be refilled so they can buy food for their kids. I know there are people living on the street or in their cars, while I’ve managed to get my mortgage company to give me a three month abatement, in the hope I can find a job by then. This is not where I expected to be at the age of 44, especially not when I had my life together so good 4 years ago. But then 2009 happened and now here we are, and it is time this Dark Age of Awful comes to an end. We all deserve better than this.
For 5 years, from 2004- 2009, I was on the radio in Portland, which opened a lot of doors for me. I had a lot of successes during those 5 years, and ideas I implemented during that time are being used to this day by my former station. As a result of my time on the radio, I am known as a local media personality. People ask me to host events, which is a wonderful thing I occasionally get to do. Other people remember me from the radio and give me nice things, like free passes to shows, which is great because I can’t afford tickets to things anymore. Lots of famous people follow me on Twitter, a super cool daily boost of happy. I also get to work semi-regularly (maybe two days a month) on the TV show “Grimm” as a background extra, and that is all kinds of beyond awesome fun. Sadly, I don’t get to be on set all day every day, and therefore the money earned isn’t nearly enough to live on.
To answer the question I always get: I can’t move away because I have kids, and those kids love their schools and their friends and their father. So I won’t move them away from all of those, and I will not move away from my kids. Everyone I know wants me back on the radio, and that is where I want to be. People who know me less well tell me that radio is dead and I should do other things, but I still believe in the power of radio, especially at the local level, and I will never stop hoping to get back to it. I certainly have the experience, talent, and most importantly, connections that will make money, but so far, there are no radio jobs in Portland (even though they still haven’t replaced me at the old station where I worked, and there are other stations that could very much benefit from having me on board). So what is a former radio personality to do in a city where there are no radio jobs, no TV jobs, and no one will hire me to work retail or in a restaurant? I’m too old to sell my eggs, I have no math skills, and I’m 5 feet tall—so heavy lifting is out. I’ve only ever waited tables, been a mom, written stuff, talked on the radio, worked retail for one holiday season, and done boring office stuff in my 20s. This is what a BFA in Theater Performance gets you.
I suppose I could make a video of myself dancing around an empty room, in the hopes that someone would hire me. But I shouldn’t have to humiliate myself. I am talented, smart, funny, knowledgeable about music and pop culture, have a great voice and amazing contacts. There should be a tug-of-war between places that want me. Instead, I am calling utility companies begging for extensions and hoping I won't lose my home. I keep hearing it gets better....but WHEN?