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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

In the last year, I sat at a United Way meeting where the speaker said many people are living a paycheck away from being homeless. "You don't know the half of it, sister" I said to myself. Despite having the fancy title of Senior Executive Editor, I now find myself homeless. Now most people who think about the homeless consider those in Seminary Park here in Burlington. Or people who sit on the streets of all are major cities. But the homeless crowd are much more like me -- a person who doesn't have a single address to call home. I've struggled with finances because of divorce and bankruptcy, termination and a previous layoff. Of my three job losses, two were because my investigative journalism made publishers feel uncomfortable. This third was because I had a luxury title without luxury pay. In order to save some money, my bosses at the Herald-Times in Bloomington set me up in at apartment at the newspaper, once meant for the company owner. I could save up some money and look for a place. Except -- there's always an "except." I worked nearly every waking hour for most of my 10 months here. I don't begrudge that. I love what I do and I'm good at it. Hell, someone pays me to read and write. That's what I wanted to do when I was in fourth grade. I had little time to look for a job and I was able to save up several thousand dollars I've never had in my life. Then I received a call from a long-time friend and colleague. He needed to meet with me last Friday. I knew what was going to happen. We met in the parking lot of the Herald-Times and he laid it out for me. My job was being eliminated and I had to be out of the apartment by noon, May 1. I still consider his willingness to make the personal appearance -- rather than a corporate call -- a signal of great respect. So, I have saved a little money after many struggles decades in the making. But I need to make those saving last as long as possible as a 54-year-old man seeks a new job in what the Federal Reserve calls the worst economy in American history. That's when I decided to blog this story. For years, I have written or edited hundreds of stories about homelessness. And here I am. The subject of a story rather than the empathetic journalist. I hope to tell you what happens from a first-hand perspective rather than the objective third person. Please don't feel sorry for me -- because I don't feel sorry for me. Just read and think.