Underemployed and overtired, wondering why and why not

Don’t (Walk) So Close To Me…

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I hate being followed.

Have I mentioned that?

It doesn’t matter how innocuous or non-threatening the situation. I don’t need to be in a dark alley at night; just walking across a sunny campus and hearing footsteps close behind me is enough.

I immediately feel threatened; if I had hackles, they would be hiked up to Heaven.

Sometime’s I’ll be bothered enough to pull off to the side and let them pass — like you do on a freeway with some obnoxious tailgaiter who won’t quit.

Yes, it feels silly.

No, I don’t really care.

I have no idea why I hate being followed; I have no memories of being assaulted from behind or chased (except by my brothers, who don’t count). And I tend to be more annoyed if it’s a woman instead of a man, which is another point against the ‘physical threat’ theory. There is something intensely grating about the scrape of high heels dogging my footsteps.

So, take note, CIA and hopeful stalkers: don’t follow me too closely.

Or at least don’t wear heels.

Written by evenalone

July 29, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Posted in musings

What if…

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I’ve always worried about being homeless.

I have no idea why; I’ve never been in danger of being turned out on the streets before. Never even lived in a city before I was 10, and there weren’t exactly a contingent of itenerant hobos in the country where I grew up.

But once I saw them — real, live people, blankets and buckets and all — I was terrified.

It comes mostly in the form of strategies, this fear. I look around and wonder, How would I survive? What would I do?

For example: how to approach people to beg for change.

There’s an art to this; I know it. I’ve seen different approaches and each one I analyze for pros and cons, benefits and flaws.

The crowd method is the least successful. The one where you step out (usually at a packed subway platform) and make an impassioned plea for compassion, ‘anything you can spare,’ just enough to sleep safely for the night.

I know why it doesn’t work.

There is a certain physics to crowds — the interplay of human connection and isolation — that means your speech will fall on deaf ears. Ask one person for help and they might; ask 10 or more and you don’t have a chance. At a certain point, your suffering becomes invisible. You could bleed out on that station platform and no one would rush to help – blind eyes all around. That good old Bystander Effect in action.

Then there’s the forced reciprocation approach –  the man who stands at the entrance to the convenience store and holds the door for you, with a plastic cup ready in his other hand. This has more success, depending on your location and appearance – look too intimidating and they’ll be afraid to engage, but make sure you get noticed.

People may get annoyed at you instead — forced gratitude is uncomfortable at best — and the store owner may try to chase you off. You’ll need to get in good with the locals in order for this to really work. Or hit a high-tourist destination and shift your stations periodically.

Speaking of tourist destinations, that’s where to go if you have any musical, artistic, or performance talent. But be careful — licensing laws on street performers are strict and well-enforced here. Can’t have the tourists seeing anything ugly about our fair city.

Having no particular skill with a guitar or paintbrush, I’m left to scrutinize the simple approaches. What about that woman selling roses to the couples outside the restaurant? A pretty fair bet, if you can shame the male half into buying one ‘for the lovely lady’ — he can show that he’s compassionate and no skinflint all in one go.

But where did she get those flowers?

And then there’s the question of packs. Should I try to join up with a group, jockey for position and trust in safety in numbers? Or try to go it alone, pick some isolated spot to hole up at night (preferably high up, with a good view of the surroundings). Spend too long in one place and you’re bound to step on someone’s turf the wrong way, and without a protector or partner you haven’t much to hope for.

These are the questions that hit me at the oddest times. Not at night, when I’m tucked in a bed, behind a locked door and under a roof. But in the blazing summer afternoon out on the street, or standing in a crowded square, or waiting for the train and noticing…noticing the people that everyone else ignores.

I don’t always help. I’m guilty of turning away.

But I still notice. And I wonder.

Written by evenalone

July 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Posted in musings, unemployed

Tagged with ,

Into the Wild Blue Yonder…

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I’m thinking of taking a vacation.

Does that seem like an odd idea to you?

After all, I’m not exactly swimming in surplus funds. And the city I live in is well-known for being overpriced (what major city isn’t?).


Getting out, getting away, going somewhere that doesn’t have the constant churn of cement trucks and ambulances wailing past my window.

Wouldn’t that be lovely?

Everyone thinks that I need a break. Go out, unwind, come back refreshed – because the job market isn’t getting any better soon. You’re in this for the long haul.

So where can I go – what magical place will have these healing properties, a fountain of hope and enthusiasm and determination?

More importantly, even if I find that feeling somewhere, how do I get it to last?

Written by evenalone

July 27, 2011 at 11:16 am

Posted in musings, unemployed

Tagged with

Just Wondering

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Ever wanted to punch a stranger in the face?

Just walk along, looking innocent – then wind up and hit them as hard as you can. Bonus points if you break their nose.

I can’t do this, for obvious reasons. Broken thumbs are at the top of that list, followed closely by assault charges, loss of reputation, and hurt feelings all around.

But wouldn’t it feel great, for just that one moment?

How about clotheslining that biker coming towards you (and what the fuck is he doing on the sidewalk anyway?), see if you can make them do a double backflip. He’s got a helmet; he’ll be fine.

I’m sure you’ve wanted to do these things at least once. Just once.


Maybe some clarification is in order.

I am not a burly ex-convict with anger issues, or a mumbling bag lady (yet), or even a disaffected teenage punk.

You would not pick me out of a crowd.

But don’t worry; I won’t punch you in the face. Like I said, it simply isn’t feasible. Not least because I cannot throw a punch. In fact, I can’t throw anything with force – I throw like a girl, never mind that I am one.

I could maybe kick pretty hard, what with all those soccer games and that brief stint in ballet.

Still, the odds of my going on a nose-bloodying, groin-kicking rampage are slim to none. I can’t even watch horror movies without cowering. The last person I ever hit was a snot-nosed boy back when I was a snot-nosed girl and we were both covered in dirt and in the midst of a heated discussion about the winning goal.

Offsides, my ass.


Nevertheless: this is not about me being nice.

I am tired of being nice. I am tired of being friendly and accommodating and generally non-threatening.

I want to actually fucking mean something and have something and do something, and if that means I’m a bitch — well, that could be fun, too.

So watch out on those sidewalks.

Written by evenalone

July 26, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Posted in musings

Tagged with

Hangman’s Game

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Nothing in the following will suggest anything other than the self-absorbed whine of a middle-class female who discovers that the world isn’t going to drop opportunities in her lap anymore.

So why pretend otherwise?

You wonder what it is that constitutes human endurance. How long exactly is your rope, and how far before you reach the end of it?

Could it be as simple as just one more rejection? Just one more fucking email of ‘thanks but no thanks’?

Why not?

I’ve never been anything special. The Curse of the High School Valedictorian, the Big Fish + Small Pond Syndrome, the maladaptive product of an overly supportive family. Never had to worry about positive reinforcement for this one. The fucking bitch got cheers for sneezing.

No wonder she hates the real world; nobody pretends anymore.

Nothing and nobody. Not worth a second thought, a first glance. A waste of time, space, and resources.

Fuck her.

Let someone else take a shot at life. Step aside, bitch, give up your place in line; you’re not getting in that club tonight (have you fucking seen what she’s wearing?) so why not let the real adults go on ahead and have fun?

I just wanted everything to stop.


Whine away, bitch.

Did you really think anyone was listening?

Ah, but isn’t that this fucking joke of it all – can’t tell anyone else, not really, ’cause she has to be bright and shiny and attractive for those employers still. Nobody likes a Mopey Myrtle. And if she does tell everyone just how fucking depressed and frustrated and goddamn alone she feels – instant Typhoid Mary, for sure. She’ll be radioactive on the job market, mental instability means NO JOB EVER, not even in retail.

And then she’ll really only have herself to blame. Couldn’t keep your fucking mouth shut.

So she’ll take out a knife at night when she’s all alone (for real alone, not just the alone in her head) and the light is fading and even the construction workers are going home and she’ll dig in hard with the edge until she sees red.

Red for rage, red for dead.

But even those scars fade sometime. And we’re back to the beginning, another FRESH START, oh goody another interview call. Get out those pressed clothes and trousers, practice your smile and twirl for the committee (don’t forget to curtsy). Don’t think DON’T THINK about how this is your last chance, it has to be because you’re so tired you can’t do it anymore and if they say no – when they say no –


Not till after, once it’s done. Then send out those thank-you cards and wait for the call.

Here it comes: Nail #43 in your career coffin, another heap of straw on that old camel, all those fun clichés. But really it feels different from that. Like a dull axe, biting into you, digging out a chunk at a time but never so sharp (never quite so mercifully quick) that you finally snap. Instead, you twist and groan and just get whittled away by degrees.

Don’t worry; if you can walk, you’re not dead. If you’re not dead, you can’t complain.


Written by evenalone

July 26, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Posted in rants, unemployed

Tagged with ,