In August of 2009, I graduated with my MBA from Thunderbird.
In 1999, I was making $125 an hour consulting for Intel, Corp.
In 2009, on graduation, I had been making the equivalent of $45 an hour.
From 1999 until 2007, and especially after 9/11, I had experienced a consistent and predictable decrease in my income to the point of making my lifestyle unsustainable.
In 2001, I sold my four bedroom house and moved into a two bedroom apartment.
In 2003, I sold my extra car and moved into a one bedroom apartment.
And in 2005, I moved in with someone who had a room for rent.
But still. Between medical costs, insurance, taxes, I was doing something financially wrong and could not for the life of me figure it out and barely had money left over for the things I enjoyed such as games and/or travel.
I suppose in 2005 is about when I started giving up, which is when I tried cocaine for the first time.
And oddly enough. From 2005 until 2009, I began to see a consistent rise in my income levels. I went from making $35 an hour in 2005 to the $45 an hour on salary I was making in 2009, and by the time 2011 had hit, I was making $75 an hour again.
But there was a problem.
I wasn’t happy.
I was working my ass off – pulling 60 to 80 hours a week, and had been since 2005. So combined with finishing off my Bachelor’s degree in 2007, and my Master’s in 2009, I had little time for myself, and I was stressed out to no end.
Now the goal with the MBA was simple: To increase my income level by exposing myself to opportunities in leadership, to increase the possibilities of more satisfying work opportunities, and in the process decrease the debt load I was assuming in getting this education ($140,000 USD) through the elevated income levels.
I’d done the research. And by all estimates – I should have seen a substantial increase in job opportunities, and should have seen an income increase of at least 2x my last income, at the very least.
And the debt I was acquiring would have been paid off within a year.
But by the time 2011 came.
Not only was I finding myself ‘stuck’ below middle management roles.
Where I was being led by CIOs and VPs and Directors whose jobs I by all means deserved and could perform better in – were being filled by people who lacked education and qualifications and were still making substantially more than me.
I started to see a trend.
I was done with my experience with cocaine which certainly was not helping my financial situation.
But the trend I saw wasn’t just about drugs.
I’d just dug a hole for myself financially that – when the promised opportunities of leadership didn’t pan out, when absolutely no avenues I tried to walk down produced desirable results….
I’d financially backed myself into a corner.
So by 2011. I had about $160,000 in debt, including about $140,000 in student loan debt.
The jobs I was taking at $55 to $75 an hour where I was working 60 hours a week, jobs that had me physically and mentally stressed out and had for nearly 10 years – were supposed to be – in theory – replaced with leadership oriented roles with less stress and more pay.
But that wasn’t happening
So despite having obtained the degree, I was finding myself trying to reduce my expenses further and lifestyle, but I was already living in a bare minimum situation.
So around 2011, I had moved to North Carolina from Arizona in an effort to ‘break free’ from my addiction to cocaine. I was spending $1000 a month on that, which clearly wasn’t helping my stressed financial situation, and this move immediately broke me free from that addiction and my supplier.
But as I went through psychological withdrawals in North Carolina, as I began feeling lonely to the point of despair, I began researching legal alternatives that might reduce the ‘bounce’ and the emotional withdrawals I was feeling.
I found a doctor there who prescribed Adderrall, which I had found had a synthetic form of a cocaine derivative in it, and while that absolutely provided some benefit and eased the withdrawals, it wasn’t covered by insurance and I quickly found myself spending $1000 a month for something that provided a pale alternative to cocaine and still left me depressed, unhappy and extremely lonely to the point of feeling suicidal.
I needed something stronger, which is when I found bath salts, a similar cocaine derivative that could be obtained from any spice shop – and the cost was ‘just right – i could get by spending no more than $150 a month.
Now here’s the thing I didn’t understand about addiction and had wrongly thought I was mentally strong and beyond addiction’s grip the first time I tried cocaine:
There’s a reason it’s there.
An absence of something missing.
In September of 2011, I tried committing suicide while on bath salts.
I was miserable. I’d worked my ass off for status, for financial compensation, for degrees. I’d become a private pilot hoping to find more time for flying with the hopes of having a jet of my own some day that I could pilot, and had gotten the MBA for the simple reason that I wanted to be included and part of ‘the in crowd’.
But despite how hard I worked.
I had less. And as I saw my lifestyle and available options consistently diminish.
Mentally. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong.
If I worked. I worked to pay off my debt. And my debt was increasing with or without drugs.
I tried measures to increase my income to counteract the debt load. An education. Training. Going to other countries and volunteering for opportunities abroad.
But when I applied. Never did I get a response. And the solitary response I did get was for an opportunity in the most polluted city in the world – Beijing.
Even Warren Buffet’s company – Geico – offered a position at less than I was making before.
It was weird.
So when I tried to commit suicide, in trying to understand what had led me to this point later, I knew I couldn’t blame it on the drugs. It was everything. My entire way of life had to change.
So when you look at that homeless person.
Like a young lady did who saw me this morning and immediately donned a look of contempt on her face.
You may assume I chose this lifestyle.
Let me assure you I did not. I have two degrees and a history of success in business and information management, yet the only jobs I am being offered are at substandard wages doing work I’ve done a million times before.
Work that – in part – led to my boredom and suicide attempt.
You may assume I’m lazy.
I obtained two degrees. I have a pilot’s license. I’ve been to forty countries, seven without a penny to my name. I’ve been married three times. And I know 20 programming languages and have seen at least 20 major programs to success in the corporate world (and a few to failure).
Compare myself and my achievements to your own. Where do you stand in comparison to this?
Be careful who you’re calling lazy.
You may assume drugs led me here.
I’d agree. In part. But I would also ask you – are you taking blood pressure medication, ADD/ADHD medication, or anti depressants? IF so, you’re just as much an addict to the same substance I was, only in smaller dosages.
But my issues and depression didn’t arise in solitude because of drugs. They arose because of a lack of options for fun and excitement and drugs filled this void.
I’m homeless or some pretty simple reasons.
Any job that pays under $100k a year will put me at a standard of living which is simply unsatisfactory and less quality than the average person’s considering the time and effort I’ve put into my career and my life and this system.
The jobs which should by all means be available to someone like me – lucrative opportunities such as CIO, or doing private research – things which might involve international travel – do not seem to exist. Sure, I might see ads for them on the internet, but I never hear back.
So for me – realistically – the job options I’m presented with lead directly to the same stress, work and life dissatisfaction, and factors which led to my depression and subsequent suicide attempts.
So it’s actually – stupid – for me to consider taking this path.
Lest I risk the same situation arising again.
Which I don’t feel like doing.
Which has me looking specifically for opportunities that are paying $200k+ a year and/or involved in things I love such as gaming, adult entertainment, and virtual reality where the work I’d be doing would have some personal gain and satisfaction associated with it even if the standard of living at home didn’t rise.
Despite trying for 4+ years sending out various resumes, at least one a week, I haven’t had a single opportunity arise.
So where’s this leave me?
Homeless Shelters cost $5 a night here in Los Angeles.
The state provides cash benefit of $200 a month if I look for work and am willing to take any job.
Benefits which would immediately be consumed by a ‘non profit’ shelter which is fully subsidized by the state to begin with, but also charges $5 a night on top of what the state pays…..
(are you catching on to the problems with corruption?)
Shelters which have a problem with drugs and alcohol.
Elements I do not wish to be around.
So here’s my option for shelter: I expose myself to drugs and alcohol, after four years of being clean, to live in substandard housing that my taxes paid for and my only option is to ‘get a job’ to get out of this mess?
I’d rather sleep in a tent. I stay away from the elements I want to avoid. And I don’t stress myself out with a fruitless job search that turns up nothing and frustrates me further.
Being homeless has turned out to be an education in observation and understanding the world.
But in a society which refuses to open up options which promote the healthy expansion of economy, sustainability, life, and love for whatever reasons.
The inevitable path that opens up to a motivated homeless man who’s tired of being called things he clearly isn’t such as lazy is one of following the breadcrumbs to what society deems as being corrupt.
Maybe I need to remain out of the financial economy.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the rewards that financing brings.
I’m homeless because society and the options presented have failed me.
Period. End of story.
And there are other options society CAN provide through a structured form of leadership but it refuses to.
That’s why I’m taking control of the entire thing.
Leaders aren’t always elected.
Some just seize control.
Even in structured democracies, when that democracy fails the individual.