Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Personal Recession Depression

A few more bits of my story to start off the forum …
I have always loved teaching, but I also loved science, so I ended up very happily working in research laboratories, trying to discover more about cancer, hemophilia, and macular degeneration, among other subjects over the years. Most of the positions I held did have a training element involved, of new researchers and medical interns, so I really did have it all! Later I went into biotechnology where I often again had a training role, since the FDA requires constant updating and refreshing of all the personnel involved in making our medicines. Then for a number of reasons I finally decided to act on my dream of owning my own business. So I started a small tutoring company, and eventually had another part time tutor working with me.

Then the collapse of it all. Now I feel like I lose another small part of myself almost every day, as I struggle to find students whose parents are afraid to spend money on a tutor when they might be laid off next week. Then many months ago I heard part of a man’s story on NPR, about how he lost his job and then his water heater broke. He and his family had to take cold showers, since there was no money to fix the heater. Suddenly my mostly broken refrigerator didn’t seem as bad as before – it keeps somewhat cold even in the summer, enough so that I can have milk for my coffee most of the time – a daily luxury! In the winter the freezer even works a bit, cutting down on grocery store trips. That is heaven compared to no hot water! So that story put my problems into perspective. For the moment I am almost lucky! How long that will last is unknown – my water heater is pretty old, too. But hearing that and other stories has helped to keep me going, and even be a bit thankful. That is really important when I have lost so much.

So that is what this Recessionaires’ Forum is hopefully going to be about – sharing stories and maybe help and giving us all another reason to keep trying. I know the name is kind of cutsey, but why not proudly take on a term that describes the real reason we are hurting – not our own actions, but factors mostly out of our control. Guilt from being broke is not helpful, and an acceptance that we did not get here all on our own may get us through another day with hope that tomorrow just may be better, as the economy improves.

One of the many amenities of life that I no longer have is home Internet access. I am still lucky that I can till type this up at home on my laptop, and then I can use my sister’s Internet to connect. I heard another story about a homeless person who advocates for the homeless quite effectively using just libraries, so again I am very lucky so far. But anyway, that means I do not get online everyday, so please do not be offended if a few days go by without a response to your comment. I will still cherish your story, even if I read it a little late.
Hope to hear some of your stories soon …

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Beginning

Almost 2 years ago I realized that my small tutoring business was about to fail, due to early recession problems. I had chosen to open my business in the city, not the suburbs, because the choices for city students are constrained in many ways, and yet they deserve access to quality tutoring. Since I needed to actually make some money from the company, I was careful to pick a city neighborhood with demographics that suggested enough families could afford full rates so that I could charge less to others. And I was succeeding – after almost 3 years I was managing a small profit on some months, with every reason to believe that I was on the way to a thriving business that was also doing good for the area kids.
After the number of new students abruptly dropped off and I had to give up my storefront location, I kept trying to find ways to keep myself afloat, but I have fallen way behind in everything. I am now sick of being alone in this mess, and I know there are all too many others out there who are suffering in many of the same ways as I am. So I am going to take my less than successful blogging in a new direction, and try to start a forum where those of us struggling to survive at various levels can tell our stories and have a shoulder to cry on and someone to laugh our troubles away for the moment, too.
I was inspired by realizing that the few stories I have heard, mainly from the news, about real people who are going through many of the same problems and crises as I am have made me feel less alone, less stupid, and sometimes ashamed to complain when I at least still have a roof. Then I read a book for middle school students, The Revealers by Doug Wilhelm, that is about kids using a network to bring victims of bullies together and help them survive together. Bringing together into a forum other “Recessionaires”, people like me who either have been laid off or lost their business or just can’t get started again largely because of the economy, might be a help to all of us, and might let me feel more like a real person again.
There may be other sites doing this, but a quick search didn’t turn up any. However, searching for blogs is rarely successful for me. I will keep looking, and I hope someone will read this and either join in by telling your own story or let me know where I can share mine. Tell us as much or as little as you wish, but let’s stop being alone in our misery. I admit, my reasons are somewhat selfish – I am honestly sick of all this and I want to find others who will help me break through all this. But I am also firmly convinced that a forum for the temporarily lost could help many of us, maybe even serve as a bridge out of despair. I hope to hear from you soon!