Life in ObamaNation

January 3, 2011

Happy New Year?

Filed under: underemployment — Barbara Mathieson @ 11:39 am
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As I start my third year of underemployment, I am content as long as nothing goes wrong. If we need a new car or an operation, we could be in trouble. Otherwise, we can muddle along on our reduced income.

I have four part-time jobs that bring in money. Thus I work almost every day, but rarely do I put in 8-10 continuous hours each day. I have set a minimum amount of money I need to bring in each day to meet the budget.

What will be my challenges in 2011? I feel confident. Should I be?


January 2, 2011

2010 in review

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barbara Mathieson @ 10:15 am

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2010. That’s about 10 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 26 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 469 posts.

The busiest day of the year was March 2nd with 37 views. The most popular post that day was Dilbert Makes Me Glad That I Got Laid Off.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for dilbert layoffs, dilbert excel, dilbert layoff, bean counter, and dilbert budget cartoon.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Dilbert Makes Me Glad That I Got Laid Off April 2009


Notice from Barry Jackson of AARP August 2009


Unemployment Check Still Missing for Me December 2008


Bike group retraces Trail of Tears July 2009


Applying for Unemployment in the state of Tennessee November 2008
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December 3, 2010

Unemployment Up

Filed under: Unemployment — Barbara Mathieson @ 9:05 am
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The latest numbers for November has an increase in unemployment. Again. I’m somewhat surprised with holiday hiring, but then I’m not surprised. Again.

I’m amused by the Republicans who want to extend the Bush tax cuts to those making more than $250,000 because these are the people who will be hiring. If so, why aren’t they hiring now. They have not been hiring for the past three years with the tax cuts. Why would 2011 be any different?

Meanwhile, I start another part-time job next week. I now work four part-time jobs. Otherwise, I would be included in the unemployment stat. Again.

November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving in the Age of Austerity

Filed under: Unemployment — Barbara Mathieson @ 9:55 am
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I love this image of Obama from The Economist. I have the print version on my refrigerator. That working man image of Obama with the chain saw is hot. Of course, Obama could probably wield a chain saw as effectively as I can. I would dismember an appendage.

I cringe when I hear the Republicans talk about cutting the budget. The budget for whom? For the past two years, my family has cut all the fun out of our budget. We no longer eat out, go out to movies or travel. I just saw Avatar last week, and it was a huge disappointment. While we were largely dependent upon unemployment benefits, we have graduated to working part-time and temporary jobs. We make less than we did on the unemployment benefits when we subtract gasoline, tires, car repair, dry cleaning and other work related expenses.

One of my jobs is interviewing people for a medical study at Vanderbilt. I travel around Davidson County and live in my car some days. I have to stop at gas stations, coffee shops and restaurants for bathroom breaks. Thus, I have to purchase something. This is a work related expense that I did not expect. Only part of my mileage is reimbursed.

So what am I thankful for this day? I’m thankful that Obama is president. I’m thankful for my family which includes my two cats. Because I work part-time for a pet food company, the cats are eating well with the discounted premium food I now feed them. The cats are fat.

I’m thankful for my health which seems to be good. Since I have a high $10,000 deductible on my private insurance plan, I may look at other plans. My current plan pays for well visits, but if I get sick, too bad.

I’m thankful for my freedom, both that nationwide and personal. While I miss travel and other amenities of making a large income, I’m content with my life in the age of austerity.

November 17, 2010

A Continuing Depression About the Recession

Filed under: Unemployment — Barbara Mathieson @ 3:58 pm

I continue to be depressed, as I have entered my third year of unemployment, interspersed by underemployment.

On the anniversary of my being laid off, I dreamed that the owner of the company where I worked was killed by a brick which flew from an exploding building. I ducked; the brick went through the small business owner cleanly. His guts were on the other side of the brick. A rectangular hole was in his chest. He knew that he was dying.

In this dream, I drove away from the mayhem. I’m not sure if war or Armageddon was happening. I was driving in a heavy rainstorm without any working windshield wipers. Maybe it was nighttime. It did not matter. I kept driving although I could not see where I was going. Easily that is a metaphor for the past two years. I’m moving, but I cannot see where I am going. I do not know where I am going.

I have no direction right now in my life. Juggling three part time/temporary jobs is not working for me.

November 4, 2010

Being Down

Filed under: Unemployment — Barbara Mathieson @ 6:35 am
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I’m very down these days. I’m having nightmares about the job I lost two years ago after the election. The election has me down because we need to keep moving forward with progressive programs. We need more stimulus programs and job programs.

I have temporary employment again. This time, I’m working for Vanderbilt University in the sociology department. I love the job, although I work only a few hours a day, as I have to work when most people are home. But it’s only temporary. And as the professor in charge of the project agreed, “All of you who were hired are grossly overqualified and underpaid.”

Although my situation is not dire since I have savings (retirement), I long for security. I’m not underwater on my mortgage, and I’d love to refinance to a more reasonable payment for my reduced income.

I feel helpless because I know that part of the reason I have not found full employment is my age and experience. I was asked last week if I would be happy working in a support role, after having a management position for years. I do not know. I did not get the chance, as apparently the employer did not want to find out.

October 13, 2010

More Temporary Employment

Filed under: The Economy,Unemployment — Barbara Mathieson @ 7:26 am
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After I was laid off from the Census Bureau, I signed up for unemployment benefits and qualified. BUT….because I worked 8 hours on the weekend, my money was delayed. I first certified for unemployment on September 5. I should have received five weeks of benefits, but I have received nothing.

Last week, I worked one day (14.5 hours) on a TV set. Because I worked 22.5 hours last week, I was kicked out of unemployment. I’m not sure if I will ever get my money for the five weeks that I was qualified for unemployment benefits.

This week, I have started working temporarily for Vanderbilt University. I’ve been trying to get on with Vanderbilt for two years, since I lost my regular job. I’m a research data collector in the sociology department. The professor, whose project employs me, apologized to those of us he hired because he cannot pay us more. He told us that we are all overqualified for the position (and we are). He realizes that we are there because of the economy.

Professor, I’m just glad to be there. It’s something. Unemployment benefits have let me down. I did not get what I deserved from the state of Tennessee. I’d rather be working, even temporarily.

America, do not be deceived by the “unemployment” rate. There are just as many of us working part-time or at temporary jobs to survive. Unemployment benefits are being withheld from many who deserve it.

September 6, 2010

Labor Day 2010

Filed under: Unemployment — Barbara Mathieson @ 8:38 am

I’m job searching this Labor Day. This is the same thing I did last Labor Day.

August 27, 2010

The New America

Filed under: Culture — Barbara Mathieson @ 1:11 pm
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I know someone who has had her car repossessed. I know someone who received $1000 for cleaning out her house before the bank took possession of it.

Is this the New America?

I’m using retirement savings to pay my monthly mortgage. I’m glad that I saved over the years.

I’m amazed at how well I can live on one-fifth of the income I had two years ago. I miss only vacations, and I’m researching how to travel for nothing. And, well, I cannot maintain a road bike on my current income.

In some ways, I like the New America, but I don’t like the pain suffered by my friends for their losses. That hurts.

I enjoy the freedom from the burden of full time employment – that 24/7 on call life style that only America lives. I love working. I have much to offer. I love being so involved in my work that I am not aware of time passing. But the old American workload was killing me.

My goal is to take the best of the old America and make it in the New America.

August 26, 2010

I’m Back

Filed under: Unemployment — Barbara Mathieson @ 10:42 am
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I blogged very little as some of you noticed while I was working for the US Census Bureau. I had very little time, and I feared accidentally discussing the work I was doing. But this week, I was laid off from the US Census Bureau, and I have been spending my time cutting back the overgrown shrubs in my yard. We had quite a jungle, although we cannot get grass to grow in the yard.

We have not been able to afford our usual landscaper to maintain our greenery since our job losses almost two years ago.

I purchased a 17″ hedge trimmer from Home Depot for $30. I feared buying a larger trimmer as I might lose control and cut through a leg, arm or hand. I’m clumsy sometimes.

I loved working in the yard this week. I cannot work for more than 2-3 hours at a time without exhausting myself, but I love the physical labor. I love being able to see the results of my work almost immediately.

I sweated profusely, although the weather has been quite pleasant this week. I often changed my gloves and socks midway through my morning routine. I hacked away over two years of overgrowth. I cut. I pruned. I sculpted as best I could.

Likewise, I have also been downsizing our possessions throughout the summer. We have found that many of our household goods cannot be given away. No one wants used stuff. We have learned the value of possessions, which is usually very little once they leave the store. Except for my $30 hedge trimmer, I have obtained much pleasure from trimming away that which is no longer necessary in my life.

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