White Trash food, canning, pies, beets, turkey, bread pudding, asparagus, potlucks, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, spinach, Easter bunnies, jellybeans, ice cream, apricots, and dog food served as paté
3:58 p.m., Feb. 19
I open my eyes to Tuesday, grab my laptop and walk into the living room. Since September, my eyes have been burning with images of Craigslist employment: non-profit, education, writing, hospitality, ETC. The stark white screen taunts me again as I open up job ad after job ad and hope. I read each ad, then close or then apply. My various cover letters dance and lilt in language that tries to mask my wild panic at my dwindling bank account that ticks downward with each minute, hour, day and month.
Read, close, apply. The Craigslist pages turn from blue to purple. I leave the house to walk. The odd amount of Obecians out and about on a work day gives me a frustrating comfort. As usual, I am harassed for spare change as if that is the key to freedom. These days I bristle at the request and look away. Can I have some change? I’m scared. What is the line between unemployment and the streets of OB? I go back home and I feel inspired.
I step in the door then open my laptop. There are 2 new hopeful items. Suspiciously, I click on my inbox. Email one is a daily deal: $90 dollars for a frolic through Balboa Park on bikes. I need to unsubscribe. Email two is friends beckoning me to come out Friday night and spend money in some place that I can’t go. If the weekend activity does not involve me cooking or drinking at home, I’m out. I fear losing friends. I hate saying no. I despise when my inbox mocks me so I walk away.
I open my computer again. For the first time, I click on “part time” in my Craigslist purgatory. I can be a barista and crepe-ist, a daytime bartender, an underpaid tutor or a canvasser for Greenpeace. I calculate every part-time possibility only to see that the position will cover rent alone...maybe. I cry a little and apply to a part-time tutoring ad.
I close the computer and make dinner. My boyfriend had a long day at his full-time job and I have been sitting, applying for jobs. Cooking is my job. Kale, squash, tomato soup and sweet potato fries. He sings the praises of the food and I cry. He tries to comfort me, “you’re qualified, you apply for jobs daily…you will get something soon, I know it!” I nod and wipe the tears and thank him for his support. He buys me ice cream, but what I really need is wine.
I open the computer for a final look. 1 new email: “your application has been received.” I reluctantly close the computer and go to sleep. I think about tomorrow. I dream about opening my computer and seeing 100 shiny blue ads and an inbox filled with "yes's" and "when can we meets". I fall asleep to this hope hiding in my boyfriend’s arms. No job today, but maybe tomorrow.