The Ranting Frustration of Underemployment

Living where I do means it’s hard to find full-time gigs. Sometimes I have the crazy desire to pay my bills on time. I know, how selfish! But I do try. It’s hard, though. Vice President Biden keeps stumping the decreasing unemployment record and how Americans are going to work! Yes, we are…for a fraction of what it takes to survive and with few social safety nets as politicians bicker and barter them away. Applications can be put out, can be sent in large swathing numbers…but that doesn’t mean anyone’s going to hire. Let’s face it: in this market, you can get employees cheaper than their experience would earn.

That’s especially true as a recent graduate with a B.A. in English. No one seems to value the idea of someone who can write reports. This country is focused on the STEM building project. Understandably so since we’re behind most other first world nations, but it does make my degree useless in the workforce.  A degree I went into debt for because I knew my research skills would be vital in writing reports, documents. Not to mention my decade of experience as an administrative assistant between professional and volunteering settings.

People don’t want to hire people for the value of their worth. Instead the numbers are focused on bottom line. Here’s the problem with that philosophy: employers get what’s paid for. If you hire someone inexperienced, angry that the pittance paid isn’t motivation, then the employer’s out of touch with the world. Politicians have destroyed unions–a safety net that insures a safe environment–and promoted right-to-work policies.

People and the media speak about how the millennial generation as ungrateful, too entitled, but we’re the ones watching jobs and opportunities being stripped away by the generations before us. So tell me, which one is entitled and ungrateful?

Back in 2013, Cracked.com’s John Cheese wrote up a really good post on what four things poor people don’t deserve to be labeled. I’m going to quote the relevant part about the current generation of college students and graduates looking for work, but really, the whole article is really important as a read. Emphasis mine.

In reality, 47 percent of the impoverished 18 to 26 age group have actually been to college. Now, that doesn’t mean they all graduated, but that’s not the point. I don’t know many people who had the motivation and presence of mind to enter into college and didn’t also have a desire to do something special with their lives. Most people don’t go to college because they were bored, though I will concede that it’s why many people teach at colleges. OHHHHH, eat it, teachers!

See, it’s not about intelligence, it’s about trying. Politicians can’t get past the idea that the only possible way to fail in America is if you sit back and do nothing. The idea that someone can put out the effort, yet not gain ground is inconceivable to them. Again, that doesn’t mean that human leeches don’t exist. I grew up doggone poor, myself. I’ve seen, firsthand, people who were content to cash their government check and then go back to sleep. But I know overwhelmingly more people who didn’t want to be on assistance and busted their lovely lady lumps to escape. Some succeeded and some did not, but it sure as pickles wasn’t for lack of trying.

Yes, there people out there looking to use the system, but the numbers are tiny compared to the vast majority of those simply trying to exist. Do I deserve less because I can’t make someone hire me? Since I can’t physically force anyone to say “yep, I’ll take her” even in the last round? This isn’t a game of elementary school dodge ball. Did those in office miss the whole urine test for food stamps being illegal conversation?

In a piece for my job, I talked about food stamps and requirements many Republican politicians are attempting to put on those receiving benefits. What I didn’t openly announce is my need for them at the moment.

Food stamps are not a cure all, but they do offer consistent meals to 16 million children and the chance for many households to afford the higher costs of living, especially in the winter months when utilities run high as temperatures plummet. The idea of citizens on SNAP as less than human, or undeserving to use what is being paid into the funds per paycheck, demonizes those without higher paying positions that require less than half a year’s attendance; yet both cases depend heavily on the federal government subsidies to maintain “affordable” lifestyles.

I understand and support food stamps because I’m on them. In this country, there’s a lot of shame that comes with food stamps, of having to be on government assistance. But I genuinely need the money so I can survive at the moment. This is the first time in my life that I’ve been forced to ask for help and I’m 33. And when I’m on my feet again, I’ll willingly hand over more money for those in need. Be it in a food drive or pantry…or adding more paid taxes.

I can’t imagine the disrespect give to people who’ve been on for a long period face every day. It’s not a good choice. In fact, I hate it. But you know what? I need to eat. I’m a diabetic in a state without any kind of Medicaid expansion. I have to eat a certain diet for me to stay out of the ER and cost taxpayers more money in my health care. I’m scrapping money together to survive. And the poor tax is a very real thing.

If the politicians think it’s easy to go out, survive under the poverty threshold, then they should come ask me. Let them see what’s it’s like to be under the threshold and the help my family has to provide so I cannot lose my place to live. Even though I don’t want to need or take the money because the American Dream still sings a little this could be all yours ditty to the tune of Disney’s “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

But that particular wish only applies if you make $174,000 plus a year.

Right now, I freelance and I enjoy my job. I really like writing about the world and reporting on news, of putting a new perspective on what’s happening in the world around us. Being in engaged and using what I’ve learned in college, tying together the information into a cohesive piece is pretty important to me-in my work ethic and personal fulfillment. I enjoy connecting with audiences.

But I also need some stability along the way. I’m not asking for hand outs. I’m asking for the politicians to stop lying about caring the constituency that’s supposedly represented. We underemployed are not all going to be major stars, lobbyists, well-known STEMers, or people with power. But we still count. We still need jobs to provide us with healthcare coverage, food, shelter, communication tools…all those things matter because they help motivate a workforce into discovering new things. That happens because of a dependable economic source. To make America shine.

It’s easy to strip down a household into the necessities nowadays (bye, Netflix!), but it’s not to maintain even the necessities if people are saddled with huge debts in without any relief in sight. The former generations helped create a world where you need a BA just to be a receptionist, but now want to rid their hands of the modern day’s unbalanced employment requirements. Some of my favorite requirements are must have at least 4 years of experience as an administrative assistant or mandatory 2-3 years of experience in a doctor’s office before applying. On top of that 4-year degree and deep debt.

So those who put time into their school work, working to create a better education and chance for mobility, are punished. After being repeatedly told that you had to attend college in order to make a decent wage.

Let me ask again: who are the selfish members of society? Those making $174,000 a year for less than half a year’s work or those looking for opportunities that don’t seem to appear?

Note to Self: Time to Do More

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the world. How deeply split and divided it is. All the death, conflict and actions of war, the attack on women’s rights and freedom from assault. Or, that’s my theory since I’ve never been one to run from the too hard, too sad news that’s bombarded me life.

Even though I’m a millennial generation kid, I ride the line between X and Y pretty well. I remember when CNN became a juggernaut since I grew up in Atlanta. And I remember watching the news in front of the TV, sitting with my parents, always learning about people-often through violence, and that’s a skewed view on the world from the start.

My job demands I be aware of what’s going on. My future educational plans demand I be aware. Hell, even my own drive demands I be aware. The world is not tidy and it’s not neat, but someone has to report. That’d be part of my job demands. But I’m noticing that I’d like to be able to focus on something happy. Something joyful and unusual. Something right, good, and caring. Society’s jacked up. There’s no question to that.

But we have good in the world, right? So why is it that we sell the worst of the news as mandatory and ignore the kindness of strangers? In the almost year of doing this job, one of my favorite pieces was about Dragon Con’s charity drive breaking records and giving back to those in need. That’s important. So damn important. But we, as a society, ignore the good to live in fear. I don’t always write about happy things. But I try my best to put what I write out there in a way that will make sense and offer a new perspective.

The other day I covered Twitter’s CEO talking about how his failure has caused a major breakdown for many users on the site. That capitalism was above human decency. If he’s serious about the change, then changes must be implemented immediately. I shouldn’t be scared of doing my job because some people with axes to grind are using fear tactics against. The irony and hypocrisy isn’t lost on me. But it does tell me I need to look for more stories. To really search out and report on issues being swept aside. I’ll still be afraid because the internet’s fostering the worry and fear.

But I’ll do better. And part of that will involve looking for news that uplifts women, elevating their actions of goodwill and highlighting that sometimes goodness is okay. The world is full of good. You just have to be willing to find it. So I will.

Research Queen to the rescue.

windy with low chance of comfort

My fiance stayed for 3 weeks. Glorious weeks, actually. This isn’t a cooing, cloying phrasing either. We had some serious issues for awhile there. Like, say, don’t go snoring in bed when I’m trying to sleep and how to learn to live together at the same time. But it was so amazing. And then. He had to go back to his native country 5,000 miles away and a 10 hour plane ride.

People who don’t date long-distance, as in two different continents, will often offer platitudes of “it’ll be better soon.” Yes. It will, but it’s months, or years, for his touch. I don’t mean sexually, either. I mean, his touch. To feel his fingers stroking my back as we cuddle up and watch movies, or feeling his hand around my waist as we’re attempting to sleep. (Seriously, snoring in the ear can be a tad noisy.) It’s the little things, like doing the dishes in the kitchen, or teaching him how to do laundry my way. It’s a precious gift that I’m without now. Because he’s 5,000 miles and 6 time zones away.

Rings
What really matters, exchanging rings on Christmas Day and fully committing ourselves to a future together.

Neither of us are happy. I can’t eat, I’m prone to bursts of crying. It’s been less than 24 hours but it feels like 24 years. There’s something comforting in being able to cuddle in bed after a long adventure in a new town. You learn so much about each other when putting together an IKEA desk. Or painting pictures, so each of you has something of the other in a set, because you’re both artists. It’s such little things and it’s hard to move past.

I had a hard time coming to bed last night. I didn’t actually until he’d landed and heard that he was okay. I slept on the fold out couch (IKEA, of course) for three hours this morning. Took a 2 hour nap in the bed, smelling him on the pillow and sheets. Comforted but painfully so. After all, his scent will leave eventually. Then what? He left me some clothes to sleep in, or sleep with, and that was fantastic. But it’s still not him. He’s my home, my port in the middle of uncertainty. I don’t use that word lightly. If ever. I’m not prone to high romance novel reactions. But for him, I am.

Sometimes, you just need someone so much it’s like air. But international marriages aren’t easy when you’re a new graduate without a steady job because you’ve been out of school for less than a month. And your school didn’t offer the languages needed to study to make moving over there easy. Language classes aren’t readily available, you can’t afford the Goethe, and you just want to crawl up as you watch every single shortcoming become visible.

Visas are expensive, basic payments are expensive, and knowing you’ll have to live on a reduced salary once you get it because of student loans isn’t easy. There’s something terribly backwards about it all, really. The expectation of a “green card wedding” based on love. Sometimes love is simply love. And it’s impossible to find routes when prices to fly and see each other skyrocket.

Kisses For Me
Kisses at the airport as we dragged out time as much as possible. (1/6/15)

All I want is my fiance, curled in the bed, laughing over my melodramatic sentiments, kissing my neck and arms wrapped around me. It’s like a terribly amazing dream and then, whoosh, the air’s all gone out. We’ll do what we need to be together, but after 1.5 years of dating, the waiting is getting harder and harder. All we want is to be home. And home is where the other is. No fancy houses needed. No great cars.

Just a tiny little studio with little room but space for us and some of our belongings, like the paintings on the wall and his costume figures. Not to much to ask, right?

Welcome to the land of WTF.

I’m attempting to keep a blog of my life in a new city. Not far from my old, mind, but enough differences to make notable exceptions. Fair warning, I’m really bad about remembering to update.  Really important fair warning.

I also cuss, a fair amount, even though I’m an English major. I’m not writing an academic paper, so who cares, right? Speaking of which, I just finished my B.A., so I’m pretty much employable full-time now. (Bueller? Bueller?) I’m not bashful, ashamed, or conservative. I’m pretty open-minded and liberal on almost everything.

I’m a feminist. Straight out the gate. If you don’t like that, the x on top of the screen would be your golden ticket out of hell. I’m also a food fiend. I love to eat, cook, and experiment. So there maybe some of my personal recipes cropping up here and there. (Not now since I’ve just made about 3 weeks worth of meals in the freezer.)

What else? I’m looking at grad school over in Germany, so I’m absorbing every bit of information I can. I’m a journalist, too. It’s not a word I use lightly about myself, either. I’m quite picky about the word use since I rate Walter Cronkite far above the celebrity journalism that’s churned out daily. Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the updates, so long as it’s the celebrities saying it.

Anything else? Who the hell knows. I’m getting ready for my fiance, so I’m a tiny bit scattered at the moment. Feel free to talk in the comments or email me (jessicahannan007[at]gmail[dot]com).