Unable to pay my rent, I moved in with an extraordinarily generous family, friends of friends who were mere acquaintances at the time. Unable to find steady work, I held as many as five part-time jobs at once, including lawn mowing, selling sneakers at a sporting-goods store and coordinating funerals at my church. Unable to afford health insurance, I've leaned on my doctor, who gives me free medicine samples and treats me at a discount.
And I received food stamps -- something one could imagine would have LBJ turning in his grave.
I have to say at this point that my life is still pretty charmed compared to those I see on the streets of Washington, ragged people who sleep in doorways and can’t predict when they’ll get their next meal. Indeed, I’m down from five jobs to just two, I’ve managed to get work as a freelance journalist and as a PR consultant, I’m no longer on food stamps and Obamacare has my health needs covered for the moment.
But my life is still a microcosm of what the so-called "jobless recovery" looks like for middle-class professionals. Combined, my two jobs pay a fraction of what I used to make as a full-time journalist. I don’t have benefits. I still don’t earn quite enough to move into an apartment of my own.
Anyone who has had to rebuild will tell you that it’s a long process, particularly in an economy that’s recovering but still hospitalized. The only choice is to keep moving forward, fighting my own war on poverty, day by day.
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