Saturday, January 21, 2012

Instant Loser

I often feel gloomy lately when I wake up, again in the world where I soon won’t have a job. Though I wake up in the same place as always, put on the same clothes and do many of the same things, it feels completely different. I have a low-level chronic fear now of falling to the bottom rung of the social order and then losing my grip on even that.

In a society that so explicitly values wealth, it’s a blow to the self-esteem to lose one’s income. I have severance pay, and I have savings, and if I didn’t my situation would be a lot worse, but severance pay and savings aren’t quite the same thing as income. Because I lived well within my means and therefore was able to put money away regularly while still being able generally to buy whatever I felt like buying, I thought of myself as rich, and now I think of myself as poor.

I’m also seeing homeless people, who are everywhere, in a different way now. I was never scared of them, as some are, but now I find I feel uneasy, not because I’m afraid for my safety, but because I’m wondering if that will be me sitting on a Tenderloin sidewalk in a wheelchair on a cold, rainy night.

I have received a nice offer of lodging in a certain basement in Ypsilanti, MI, and thank goodness for that. Several steps remain between me and the wheelchair on the sidewalk, yet it’s been jarring to see just how quickly seemingly solid supports can dissolve. Given the insurance ramifications, the DCIS strikes me as having been a substantial step down, ditto losing the job, and that they happened in such temporal proximity has vividly brought home the point that nothing is permanent.

I was in tears by mid-morning today. This insurance business is harder than anything else that has happened. I feel trapped, as if in all directions there is a door slamming in my face.

For instance, I have often thought about moving to Michigan to be closer to my parents, and the job I’m just losing would have facilitated that perfectly, as it’s entirely virtual. My co-workers all live wherever in the country they prefer to; all that’s needed is an Internet connection.

But now, because of the insurance issue, I’m going to have to have a job that offers it, which is unlikely to be a job where I’d be welcome to live 2500 miles away, and if and when I get that job, I might need to hang onto it until I’m 65 and Medicare kicks in. As mentioned, there are options for those with cancer but without insurance, but I suspect that any savings the person has must be used up before benefits are received, which makes sense, and I also know that my parents would feel that they should mortgage their house to help me, so making sure to have insurance is a way of keeping what I’ve saved over the years, which I will probably need in my dotage, and protecting my family as well.

I’m only 49, which means I have to somehow come up with at least 16 years of health insurance, or more, if they push the Medicare age back, and what kind of crappy country is this that I’m lamenting that I’m not 65 already?

I went to see my hospice visitee today and was still there when the delightful Charlie arrived for his shift, sweeping in with all the glamour of a movie star, and it’s possible that his patients are as excited to see him as I’d be if I found myself face to face with Vincent Rottiers. (See I’m Glad My Mother Is Alive. And, while you’re at it, Handsome Harry, though Vincent Rottiers isn’t in it.)

Afterward, I took Muni downtown—there’s definitely more Muni in my life than there used to be, as I resist the temptation to take cabs—and met Venkata to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol in the IMAX theater at the Metreon. It takes place in Dubai, a country I’d like to visit, and was absolutely, completely excellent. Then we had Indian food in the Tenderloin. I sat facing the window and had a fine view of some particularly wretched souls who will probably be my closest companions a year from now.
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