Monday, October 31, 2011

Wheel spinning (April 14, 2008)

Current mood: drained

Most of last week I felt so down and crappy, I didn't want to look at anyone, let alone talk. We had a death in the family -- this, following the emergency trip to Syracuse to see the then-living person -- but it was bigger than that. I won't go into it. Anyway, that was last week. Gotta get over it.

Back to the living. Why am I here, really? Taking stock, I haven't held a proper job in five -- FIVE -- years. I got a masters degree for this? I want to make it easier for people to use public transit. And boy do we need it! When I started the masters program, gas was 80 cents a gallon. It was considered high at $1.45/gallon when I graduated in mid-2001. I knew in 1995 that I wanted to make it easier for people to use transit to get around, but I simply haven't been able to make a go of it.

I'm trying to do this against horrible odds:
* My son starts college in a couple of months, and we need to come up with a five-digit sum by the end of the year.
* We're trying to pay down a mountain of "legacy" debt, much of it left over from paying for my own grad school 10 years ago.
* We're making ends meet, but only by forgoing any significant purchases, clothes, and to a great extent, food. Half of what we eat comes from leftovers from a local bakery. I don't think there's a brand-name food item in the house.
* To do this properly, I need office space. Any work I try to do has to be spread over the dining room table, which competes with homework, income taxes, financial aid paperwork, and each day's mail. My work to date has generated reams of plans, but it's all stored away in boxes. Office space costs money. I don't have that.
* To do this properly, I need to put a lot of time into making software work. For all my technical background, one thing I do not do quickly is programming. I would really need someone's help with the software development. Big money or big time. I have neither.
* To do this properly, I need a computer. All I have to work with now is a 10-year-old laptop that has neither modem nor USB connection, nor can it read many CDs for some reason, so communicates exclusively via 3.5" diskette. The family PC, which I'm using to type this, is itself seven years old and painfully slow and overloaded. Not to mention being constantly used by four people.
* To get my own new computer, I need, conservatively, $2,000, to get not only the machine (fairly cheap yet still out of the question at about $500) but various specialized software titles, plus peripherals (e.g., printer, projector, long-bed scanner) to make my business viable.
* Somewhere in there, my son will likely need his own PC, since he's going into Game Design. A resurrected 850 MHz Win98 machine ain't gonna cut it for him, either. He's going to need some big iron to do his work properly. Maybe three grand, if we get him a laptop.

As it stands, I can't afford a new pair of pants, let alone probably $15K in damn near must-have expenses within the next three to eight months.

A job would be really nice! Hell, even a menial $15/hour job would be fine with me right now. Just go in, do stuff for eight hours, go home. I've had $20 and even $30+/hour jobs, but the higher the pay, the more my balls would be busted. I don't need ball-busting, thank you, just an income. Oh right, and health insurance. Am I really asking for that much? Just a job? With that, I can take care of the rest.

Whatever I find would preferably be Downtown, since I cannot afford a second set of wheels right now, either. Sources tell me there are lots of jobs in Wexford and Cranberry. Ha! Ever try bicycling up Old Perry Highway from the Target in Pine Creek Plaza into Wexford, even in nice weather? That hill is a killer, apart from the traffic. I've walked it (I've even unicycled it); walking takes two hours each way. Cranberry is twice that. Bus service up there has been non-existent since the June 2007 cuts.

You'd figure that with a masters degree, I could do damn near anything. But either I'm overqualified by virtue of having an advanced degree, or too specialized by having an advanced degree. Even if I get to an interview, they pounce on that five-year hole in the resume and pummel me with What Have You Done To Stay Current questions. I answer it with the laundry list that constitutes the truth, but I want to tell them Why Should You Care Just Hire Me And See What I Can Do. But I suspect that probably won't go over too well. OTOH what I'm getting amounts to the same thing, screwed over and continued joblessness.

I can't give up. But I can't make any headway, either. I've run out of gas spinning my wheels. I need a new approach.

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