C H R I S T M A S
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Dear friends and family, It’s been 20 months since I was laid off and I’m still trying to find a full-time job that will pay the bills. In November, I had a number of interviews but none worked out. Still too much competition; often 100-300 applicants for each job opening. I’d love to work in communications again and do desktop publishing, but I’ve also been applying for jobs as an administrative assistant. As my COBRA runs out December 31, I’m wishing it were 2014 when insurance companies won’t be allowed to deny coverage or charge more for pre-existing conditions. My friends and I are being denied coverage for everything from a previously broken arm to high blood pressure. After 45, MOST of us have some kind of pre-existing condition. Minnesota has a couple of “back-up” plans. One is for people with very limited assets who’ve been without insurance for at least four months. Another program offers options like paying $400 a month for a $5000 deductible plan where NOTHING is covered before that is met. That option isn’t really affordable or very helpful. I wish we had universal coverage like I had in Japan (and like other developed countries offer their citizens). Health care reform is a good first step, but A LOT more needs to be done, including a public option. I believe it should be collectively funded like Social Security, Medicare, defense, education, etc. It’s uncivilized to have it rationed in the market place based on employment and/or what one can afford!
I continue applying for jobs and attending networking groups, workshops and computer classes. I enjoy making new connections and enhancing all of my computer skills. In April, I started working part-time at my favorite store—Bachman’s Garden Center. Being a long-time customer & passionate gardener, it was a good fit. My work & play were garden-centered this summer. I’ve also been dog-sitting for some former Park Nicollet co-workers. A shy sheltie, Maddie, has been a frequent guest. She loves other dogs but is frightened by people. During our initial “interview”, she came up & kissed me on the face. I was hired! I wish she were a recruiter! Another guest was Otis, the Goldendoodle. I thought my shy Chelsea would be intimidated by his size, but surprisingly she really liked Otis and enjoyed flirting with her new BIG friend. On July 11th, I made the front page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Fortunately it was NOT for shoplifting plants from Bachman’s, but was in an article about the long-term unemployed. It was exciting to be interviewed, have a photo shoot and see my picture on their website for a few days. In July, my BFF Suzie and I ventured up to Grand Marais. We kept it “cheap” by using a AAA discount, getting a night free and eating picnic lunches. One doesn’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy that gorgeous and peaceful little town. It’s wonderful to have a fresh-water “ocean” just a few hours away!
On October 23, Lori & I braved HUGE crowds and stood in a long line to see President Obama at the University of Minnesota. It was exhausting (standing for HOURS) but very exciting. It was a friendly crowd and a day we will long remember. Weather-wise, it was a year of extremes. A mild March was followed by cold, rainy weather in early May. Gorgeous fall weather lingered through November. Then the big BLIZZARD arrived on December 11th. Our Dome collapsed and left us “cabin bound” for a couple of days! It was our 5th largest snow fall with 17” recorded at MSP airport. The record was on Halloween 19 years ago when 28.4” brought everything to a standstill. I miss having a job to go to, people to work with and a routine to order my life. Yet, I am blessed like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life. He was called the “richest man in town” because of all his wonderful, supportive friends and family members.
I am so thankful for all of you and wish you the very best in 2011!