never too old

the little flat
is always clean
plants a-bloom,
lush & green

it appears
that everything is fine
no one sees
the chaos in her mind

Christmastime & she’s homesick
far from the land of her birth
middle-aged & unemployed
she questions her self-worth

sale signs & Christmas décor
as far as her brown eyes can see
she job hunts every day
battling against misery

interviews galore
they pass in a blur
is her age the reason
no one has hired her?

she works hard to stay cheerful
in her heart hope keeps hummin’
benefits help some
but the bills keep comin’

she’s a woman used to standin’
firmly on her own two feet
who dearly wants her life to return
to its familiar & orderly beat

she’s a strong woman, too
with adversity she can cope
she is not too old to work
she refuses to lose hope

loving, skilled & experienced
loyal, brave & bold
some smart company will see this:
they’ll recognize she’s not too old

copyright © 2016 KPM

African American woman instructor demonstrates program on desktop computer to African American seven year old girl with braids in classroom in New Orleans

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escape route

when misfortune appears
with its unwelcome shape
that’s when she finds
she needs an escape
the comfort of
a celluloid hug
a technicolour
high-definition drug

she can only handle
so much stress
so on those occasions when things
dissolve into a mess
when her life is as bad
as life sometimes gets
she takes a mental health break
with her beloved box sets

since childhood
she has loved TV
it’s a fact she admits
honestly
there are those who’d argue
that the boob tube is bad
but she loves those memories
of watchin’ telly with her dad

the Fisher family
on Six Feet Under
restore to her
a sense of wonder
she can laugh at their exploits,
which banish her doubt
reassured that everything
will work itself out

she shoves away
all thoughts of defeat
when engrossed in
Homicide: Life on the Street
inspired by the way
Frank always gets his man,
she resolutely develops
her own new & better plan

still, there are those times
when she’s suffused with dread
when the darkness invades
her heart & head
at those times
she takes to her bed
& fights her demons like the crew
on The Walking Dead

she resists the temptation
to wallow in self-pity
with help from the girls
of Sex & The City
by their trials & triumphs
she is transported
restored in her belief
that her problems will soon be sorted

so she’s unemployed just now –
it’s a temporary state
she refuses to fall for
the black dog’s bait
she has God,
she has friends, she has family
soon her life will return
to what it ought to be

for now, she’ll keep submitting
those job applications
sure she’ll soon be successful
in achieving her aspirations
& for all those times
she’s beset by fear in the night
there’s always a box set
to set her mind right

copyright © 2016 KPM

escape-routes

a little kindness

Wednesday. No spectacular sunrise this morning: my beloved Dundee sky is cloudy, interspersed with patches of murky blue-grey. For a change, I did not awaken early – I had a good night’s sleep, untroubled by anxiety and nightmare dreams of sleeping on the street. This is probably down to something nice which happened to me yesterday, which I’ll get to in a bit.

I’ve entered my seventh week of being unemployed and on benefits. Thankfully, I was awarded the full council tax and housing benefit, so maybe those dreams of living on the street will stop now. I’ve spoken with all my creditors, who – surprisingly – have been very kind and have agreed to put my various accounts on hold for the next month.

I’ve submitted 41 job applications since I was made redundant, and – I admit it – cried over the 17 “you’ve been unsuccessful on this occasion” letters/emails I’ve received. I’ve been on six job interviews since November 1st, and I’m certain I’ll be attending more, as the closing dates for some of the applications I’ve submitted have not yet arrived. So although some days are harder than others, I keep filling out those applications, praying, and trying my hardest to remain positive.

My sixth interview was yesterday. It was a panel interview with a company I’m familiar with and would love to work for. It’s not a permanent post, just an 18-month contract, but I’m cool with that. The day before the interview I did my hair and nails, and got my eyebrows done, raiding my holiday jar for the £7.99 – the holiday jar is something my boyfriend and I put all our spare change into so we’ll have extra money for our summer hols – and thank God for that jar, because it’s also been providing me with bus fare so I can go on interviews. I ironed the outfit I planned to wear, assembled all the documents – passport, uni diploma, etc. – I’d been asked to bring with me, and read up on the company so I could impress them with my knowledge. I was prepared.

The interview went well. I could tell they were impressed because they told me they were: “Wow,” they said, “Your store of knowledge and your skill set is impressive!” It was a good interview, and after telling me they had more candidates to see and hoped to let everyone know the outcome by Friday, they shook my hand, wished me Merry Christmas, and I departed.

I had planned to walk home, as the company was only a 25-minute walk from my flat, and I needed the exercise. I used to walk to and from work every day, as my previous job was not that far from my home, and I missed that daily walk. But as I was walking, it started to rain, and of course while I was making sure I’d packed everything I needed for the interview, I’d neglected to pack my brolly. A quick check of my wallet showed I had the money, so I decided to treat myself to a ride home.

Chatting with the taxi driver on the way home, when he learned I was coming from a job interview following a redundancy back in October, he shared with me that his wife had been made redundant from Angus Council just last week. He was really reassuring…“You & my missus are both smart & beautiful,” he said firmly. “You’ll both get something soon.” When we got to my flat, I opened my wallet to pay him, and he patted my hand and said, “On you go, doll. Best of luck to you.”

I was gobsmacked. But I don’t know why….I’ve learned in my 14 years here, that’s just the way the Scots are.

I never planned to be in this place: unemployed at Christmas time, on benefits, uncertain over the future. I don’t think anyone ever plans to be in such a place. Which is what makes kindness so important. That taxi driver might have seen a “smart and beautiful” woman – he might even have seen a confident woman. But on the inside was a woman who was deeply depressed – even close to suicidal, and he will probably never know how that small act of kindness renewed and restored me.

The internet meme is true. We should all be kinder than we need to be, cause you never know what someone is going through.

a-little-kindness

benefits blues

ah’m unemployed at Christmasbenefits-blues
mah pockets gots no bucks
jobless at Christmas
man, dis really sucks
every day I struggle
not to cry
when ah thinks of all da presents
ah cain’t afford ta buy

ah’m outa work
for da holidays
ah tell mahself
dis is jes’ a phase
ah been on countless
interviews
ain’t got hired yet
so ah got da blues

hadda go on the dole
fo’ dis festive season
‘n right now mah life
got no rhyme or reason
bein’ unemployed at Christmas
ain’t no fun
but ah take comfort from da fact
dat ah’m not da only one

ah may be outa work for now
mah self-esteem may be shot
but dis shit won’t last forevuh –
ah know dis ain’t my lot
cuz soon da Lord will bless me
wit dat “you been hired” letter
& 2017 will be so much better

copyright © 2016 KPM

 

just another girl on benefits street

I’ve got a job interview in a couple of hours. This will be my fourth interview since being made redundant last October.

I’m as prepared as I can be. I’ve done some research on the company. I got a good night’s sleep last night. I had a good breakfast this morning. I’m nicely dressed, my hair and my nails are freshly done.

Job interviews make me nervous, though, happily, the nervousness does not show and it doesn’t affect my performance whilst being interviewed: I don’t get all red-faced and sweaty and inarticulate. No, it affects me in unseen ways….my heart pounds in my chest and my stomach cramps and churns.

As this is the fourth time I’ve been made redundant since 2010, one would think I’d be an old pro at this by now. But one never gets used to this: the wait for the invite to interview, the wait for the results, the hope that you’ll get the job you really want, and then having that hope become a desperate prayer for any job at all.

Various factors come into play when you’re job hunting. Will the potential employer think I’m too old? Because, sadly, ageism exists. Will I they trot out that tired old “you’re over-qualified for this post” line again? This is something I’ve heard a lot, and it infuriates me. Why should I be made to feel bad for having gone to college, for having worked hard in a variety of sectors? All the work I’ve done, all my employment experiences only adds to the store of knowledge I can bring to a company.

I hate being unemployed….it wreaks havoc with my self-esteem and my mental and emotional well-being. I hate hearing the slam of the front door as the other tenants in my building leave for work. I’ve always been proud of being self-sufficient, and now I am forced to ask for help from uncaring government agencies: help with council tax, housing benefit, and Job Seeker’s Allowance. I have never in my entire life been on benefits on either side of the pond, and I have found the whole process draining and depressing. Mind you, I am grateful to have been awarded the help I’m currently receiving. But I would much rather work.

Being jobless at Christmas time is the worst. Big SALE signs in shops and TV adverts which remind me that I have limited funds and most likely won’t be buying any presents for anyone apart from my Mom and my BF this year. Everyone who knows me that Christmas is my favourite time of the year; as an American, my tree always goes up the day after Thanksgiving, which I still celebrate even though I live in the UK as my BF likes the whole ritual of Thanksgiving. But in my current jobless state, the thought of the looming holiday season makes me want to crawl into bed, pull the duvet over my head and not move.

The days all run together when you’re unemployed. My whole comforting routine of get up-eat breakfast-shower & dress-go to work-work-come home-have my tea-make lunch for work tomorrow-iron clothes for work tomorrow-watch a bit of telly and then go to bed was destroyed in a 30-minute meeting.

My sleep pattern has been destroyed as well. I sleep more when I am depressed, and although my GP has increased the dosage of my anti-depressants, they help little. Thus my new routine is:

• get up at 6:30 like I still have a job to go to
• check email for invites to interview and/or “you’ve been unsuccessful” messages
• fill out job applications online until 10 or 11 (unless there aren’t enough suitable ones that day)
• shower & dress
• force myself to eat something (I skip this step 2-3 times a week)
• clean the flat (which seldom needs it)
• lie on sofa with Eeyore & the duckie blanket to watch TV only to fall asleep for 1-2 hours

This routine changes on those days when I’m fortunate enough to have an interview or on Tuesdays, when I am required to attend at the Job Centre to prove I’ve been looking for work. My “work coach” is a nice woman – she thinks I’m “great.” She’s used my CV (details removed) as a model for the other clients at the Centre, and raves about the spreadsheet I created as a tool to keep track of all the posts I’ve applied for: a detailed seven-columned, colour-coded wonder that lists the name of the company, the post applied for, date applied, and all the requisite contact and follow up details. She’s shown my creation to all the other work coaches at the Job Centre, and they all marvel at my “inventiveness” and Jenny’s luck in having a client like me.

But I don’t want to be a “client”. I’d rather be an employee.

I’ve got two friends on benefits – neither of them have worked in years. They don’t understand my grief and depression over losing my job and what I see as my failure to get another job quickly. They keep telling me to “relax”. “There are benefits to being on benefits,” they laughingly told me. Because they’re my friends, I laughed along with them, realising they were only trying to cheer me up. But truthfully, I found their attitude distasteful – the entire benefits culture that exists in the UK is appalling to me.

Luckily, it’s not an attitude I have to share, and I don’t. So as I get ready to leave for this interview, I say a silent prayer that I will soon be blessed with a new full-time post. It’s the only Christmas present I really want.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

this is a test

in my smile folks see a song
‘n people think of me as strong
through every trial I’ve danced along
but right now my faith is gone

I rode the streets of my life, totally in control
had work I loved that made me feel whole
jobless now, I’m facin’ the dole
or damp city streets with a beggin’ bowl

feel like the dupe in a nightmare swindle
‘n in my belly fear starts to kindle
helplessly I watch my bank balance dwindle
my belief in you – can it be rekindled?

I’m strugglin’ to remember that I’m blessed
but this current state I so detest
‘n I don’t wanna be scared or depressed
but my feelings must be expressed

I need you, Lord –guidance & love are requested
cause in this place I’m heavily invested
few are the times that I’ve been bested
reckon that’s why I’m bein’ tested

copyright © 2015 KPM

Tested

application unsuccessful on this occasion

she seeks an end
to shattered dreams that endlessly bleed
assistance from any entity
who can help fulfill her need

she desires understanding
of the talent in her soul
a hand to lift her up
a noble work to make her whole

thus fearfully she waits
for blessings from the soothsayer
hoping for a positive answer
to her final desperate prayer

copyright © 2011-2014 KPM

application denied pic