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friday, january 12, 2001
optional economy

it seems we, who are in a fairly depressed area to begin with, are about to be hit with a depression again. a major store in a nearby mall is completely closing down. ALL of its stores are affected. this is the second store this particular mall has lost, and the space from the first one has never been picked up by another merchant. admittedly this mall has been dying for some time, no one wants to shop gangbanger heaven. that and there is competition from a nicer mall not too many blocks away. but, in addition to that one store closing up its entire chain, another business is closing "selected" outlets in the area, e-toys has closed 2 warehouses including one in the l.a. area somewhere, and several other businesses are making layoffs. in an area where people are struggling to look for work anyway, this all is VERY bad. and it hits us in particular. my husband is waiting until he has surgery and gets through the physical therapy to look for work. he has a high school education, limited training, and no real skills to market. finding work looks to be a difficult prospect at best, impossible at worst. when there is nearly nothing out there anyway, taking away what few opportunities there were and flooding the area with others who need similar opportunities does not make for a good job hunting environment.

so he and i have begun discussing some options.

1. look for work. with all the aforementioned difficulties in mind, he can go seeking full time, barely subsistence level employment anyway. while this is a difficult task at best at the moment, once he did find said employment he would feel like he's contributing to the support of his family. This is currently a big issue for him and, if it were not for the surgery, he would have been looking starting 2 or 3 days after he lost the laidlaw job. i am not sure he would be employed right now with the current trend towards down sizing, but he would at least be trying. This is a big deal to men. well, most men, i have met one who just absolutely had to have the RIGHT job even if it meant he wasn't contributing to his family's welfare while unemployed and looking for that job, and another who was just a freeloader. but those two seem to be the exceptions to the rule for men: if they are unemployed, their very worth comes into question and they get thoroughly depressed.

2. school. we started discussing this one last night. he could go back to school, and i would support his decision to do so. there are a couple of drawbacks: no extra money in summer as summers are not covered by f.a. in our area, he needs health insurance and the medical program would require he be looking for work (education to improve your chances of finding something other than barely subsistence level work is not an option in our state), and choice of major. HE wants to become a psychologist/counselor. all well and good EXCEPT that the vocation is flooded and to do so he needs LOTS of math. one of these days i will have to tell you about tutoring him in math, but suffice it to say that he and math do not get along. he is a very good writer in my opinion and could easily get an english degree with the concentration in creative writing, like myself, but the best application of that degree is teaching, not a vocation he is sure he wants to do despite the perks ($30,000 starting, paid education, a portion of the loans for the degree paid every year, and the down payment on a house paid for by the state, among others). the advantage is immediate employment (and aforementioned perks). california is desperate for teachers and now gives emergency credentials to get teachers in the classroom while they are working on the actual credential part of their education.

3. the 50/50 solution. part time school/part time work (if he can find it). the biggest problem here is that he and i already know school will take a lot of effort from him and that he will be "slower" (as he put it) getting through his education than i have been (i was crazy enough to consistently take between 16 and 20 units a semester, then 16 units a quarter until i left from because of health issues). so he would have to balance school time, work time and study time very diligently, and make room for family time in all that. i know this will be very difficult for him. he is one of those people who needs silence to study and that is not happening in a house with 4 kids. i personally think he'll need to focus on one or the other, or work part time, but take less than 12 units to compensate.

whatever his choice is, i will support him. we're living in tough times in a tough location. the fact that he has options at all is because i have refused to go back on public aide, so neither of us is being forced to take what we can get job-wise and ignore our education in the process. in the entire mess surrounding our particular area, that is our one little blessing.

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