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Speak Out!

Silence is not golden.  Silence is how an idea fades, how a movement dies, and how change never comes. Although I have been quiet on the blog, I have been making noise in my offline life.  About what? Almost everything Read the rest of this entry

The Great Long Beach Blackout of 2015

On Weds, July 15, 2015 Downtown Long Beach was thrown into a calm chaos.  Everything went black. At 4pm in the afternoon, exactly how bad this would get wasn’t quite clear.  The sun is still out. Refrigerators are still cold. Food is still edible.  For those lucky enough to have gas stoves, they could cook.  Besides, it isn’t as if we never had a power outage before.  But those lasted just a few hours.  This, a few days.

Days.

It was quite a tease at first.  I was in Los Angeles for the first night at an event (ESPYS anyone?) when I got a call saying there was no power.  My natural first reaction was to check the SCE website to make sure my payment was processed.  My next thought was maybe it’s something with the fuse box in which case – call maintenance.  When night fell, it was clear that it wasn’t any of the above.  The entire neighborhood fell into something of an impenetrable darkness.  No street lamps, no flickers from windows, no traffic lights.  Pitch. Black.  When I got home the next morning I was happy to see several businesses open.  Not my coffee shop. I frowned.  After a night walking around Los Angeles trying to find lodging all I wanted was my bed.  Just before 10AM I fell asleep.  I woke up to the sound of my printer and checked my bedside clock – nothing. The power was off again and would remain off until about 9pm Friday night.

From Wednesday to Friday Downtown Long Beach resembled some abandoned town. At least that’s what I heard.  See, in all of this I never left the apartment.  Not from a lack of want but, a lack of ability.  Without electricity there are no elevators.  So I spent the next two nights and two days on an unofficial house arrest, unable to even leave my floor.  I couldn’t leave to find food. I couldn’t leave to charge the most important battery I own – my electric wheelchair battery.  But, I had people around me who cared and those people made sure I was taken care of.  Even a social media acquaintance offered up her help when she learned that not even the security guards in my building came to check on me.

What did I learn from this experience? The obvious.  Don’t take anything for granted.  But it wasn’t the lack of food or water or hot showers.  It was that I realized at that moment I was wholly dependent upon electricity just to leave my apartment.  Don’t take elevators for granted. Seems superficial or trivial to you? Remember, many people had the option of traversing dark stairwells.  I had the option of waiting.

SCE took a beating on social media these last few days and I was one of them.  I’m a girl that works on principle.  In the hours after the blackout began, the electric company set up what read like robot responses to all questions.  No matter what you asked you would get one of three answers.  Ask enough questions and be lucky enough to get all three!  Residents were angry and rightfully so.  Thousands of dollars of food was lost in the span of two days.  Thousands of dollars of business was loss.  And all SCE could do was say “file a claim and we will review it”.  Review it.  As in we may or may not compensate you.  What made matters worse is that every update went out over social media.  To people who didn’t have power…*blank stare*.

“Get feet on the ground!” Said one Facebook user and that facebook user seemed to rally them up because within hours SCE had “troops on the ground” making home visits with ice, water and flashlights.  They came to see me and then twenty minutes later…

…let there be light.

So I write.

As a woman in a wheelchair it wasn’t not being able to sit in the A/C or watch TV.  I read and study so who cares. I was trapped.  I will never take my independence (limited as it may be) for granted again.

Options…Where Are They?

I haven’t been so concentrated on my “new, healthy me”.  I want to be but, the distractions are great.  I’m just a few months from being broke.  I’m going to get personal for a minute WP peeps.  I’m 30 years old and can’t say that I’ve ever held a true paying job.  Yes, summer job here and there but, nothing that I can say is true work experience – at least not in today’s job market.  I do a lot with my time.  I volunteer for organizations.  I’m not talking about soup-kitchen Fridays.  No, I’m talking about sitting on boards, making decisions…a job, just free.

But, here I am, people.  Unemployed.  In the past three weeks I think I’ve been on at least three or four interviews.  I even travelled to another part of the state, on my own dime, for a job that I ended up not getting.  I spoke (emailed) the hiring consultant and she told me they are still looking.  They haven’t found the right person for the job.  That doesn’t mean I’m still in the running, that means that IF I get the job they settled.  Two days ago I had a phone interview for a work-from-home position as an enrollment agent for an educational program.  Sales.  I received an email that SAME day saying they decided not to push me through to the next phase.  This past Monday I interviewed for a “Long Term Substitute Admin Assistant” (read: temporary receptionist).  The director said she’d let me know by Friday.  I’m hoping that the lack of a call means she fell behind on her work and will call me Monday.

It may sound like a bunch of griping to you but, I’ve been actively looking for a job since I graduated college in 2005! What are my options? I can’t even get a call center job? Receptionist? I’ve been trying to break into the legal field but, apparently I’m not good enough to be even a receptionist in a law office!

Two months.  That’s when I hit zero and run out of options.  No, I do have one last option: Move back to New York.  The state that I left because options there were worse than here in L.A.  Two months before … yeah.

I’m crying as I write this because I don’t know what else to do.  I feel like I’ve done everything I was supposed to do. I finished school, got a graduate degree, continued education, was diligent in my search, networked, built a resume, everything!  And I’m seeing people who are not as qualified get jobs!  Yes, I know I shouldn’t compare myself to other people but, when I see the certain people getting hired over me or before me, I have to wonder – What’s wrong with me?

Interview skills? I continue to work on that. Is it my resume? I’ve watered it down so much so I won’t look over qualified. Personality? People like me!  There aren’t many people I meet who do not like me.  Skills? Plenty.  So I ask again, what’s wrong with me? Someone said it’s not me, it’s the economy.  No, it’s me.

I’ll have to put law school on hold. I don’t have a choice! I can’t pay for it even with financial aid.  I can’t afford more loans for school.  I have to put my plans for a family on hold.  I can’t afford it!  I wanted to adopt and felt that I could do it by the time I was 35.  I guess not now.  New wheelchair? Not right now.

I’m so frustrated! There can be no Four Wheel Workout of mind or body when I’m busy spinning them trying to figure this all out.

*pauses*

Wow, not even good enough for a call center! When I read that email a couple hours ago, it completely ruined my night.  My significant other was trying so hard to lighten the mood but, I couldn’t.  I couldn’t laugh.  I just started at the TV.  SportsCenter.  I can’t even tell you what was on it…just started through the TV. 

I don’t even know why I keep trying.

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