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To America And Back (A Life's Story or Rant Which Also Can Give Hope)

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posted on Nov, 18 2012 @ 03:14 AM

This post serves several purposes: Firstly, it's for entertainment. For yours, but also for mine. I like writing and yesterday came up with the idea to put those things down. You can read it like a story or book if you want. My story is also (sort of) a warning and a rant - but most noteworthy it should be a story of hope. I wouldn't write it if there was no positive message. I am not talking about ghosts, UFOs or aliens here - it's just my personal story. Maybe someone will get something out of it.

I didn't really know where to put it at first. "Gray area" would be more about mysterious stuff, "introductions" might possible be better. But then I'd feel foolish "introducing" myself since I am active on the site for quite a long time already.



To America And Back (A Life's Story or Rant Which Also Can Give Hope)

I moved from Europe to the US in 2000 - and it was surely to be the beginning of a lot of excitement for me. Only 3 months before, I couldn't even picture myself on a plane, let alone visiting another country.

Little did I know, while I was sitting on the 747 from Frankfurt to Chicago, that I won't see Europe for a long, long time again.

I arrived in a new world which was so different from wild Berlin and other European places. I was put right in the middle of suburbia, right into a typical "American suburban family" and would soon learn to live in this, for me rather unusual, environment. The grass was cut like with a nail cutter neat and nice in each of the middle-class houses, on the weekends people have Barbecues and their backyard and so forth and so on.

I was living with my fiancee in the house of her parents.

Reality set soon in because the importance of having a job came up pretty quickly, and even back in 2000 the job situation in Illinois was less than rosy. I had a history back in Europe as a software developer and worked some jobs in that field - but didn't have a formal education even when I was spending almost most of my time with computers, programming etc.

We married.

My wife's parents soon moved to Florida, which forced us two into her uncle's house in another suburb. My now wife had a steady job at United Airlines, and i was getting more and more desperate of getting some employment as well. But nothing really arose for about a year.

That my wife was still "stuck" living at her parents and now we were ending up at her uncle's house was not really weird at that moment. I could understand that we can get our own place once we both have a steady job. I, myself, was not used to such living conditions since I used to live by myself,or with my sister or many roommates throughout the years. I think I was 16 years old back home when I plus my sister already lived in our own apartment. Short: For me it was very, very weird to live in her uncle's house, having to obey certain rules etc - but then it also did have benefits, eg. we didn't have to pay rent.

A big breakthrough came early 2001 when I got a job at a small software company. The pay was "only" $20 per hour but the job was phenomenal. At that time, back then, I still thought programmer was a dream job, and the job and the boss and everyone was extremely laid back.

For some off reason, even now after being married with us two having steady jobs, the issue of moving in our own apartment never came up. Or it came up, but was then put down with a veto from my wife that it would not be possible, my job would not be good enough, steady enough etc.etc. Our living conditions were in a way not acceptable, and it became more evident with us both now working each day.

2001 was NOT GOOD.

9/11 happened in full force and I remember the day as if it was yesterday. I was at work, with my wife being off that day. My wife was freaking out since she, as an United Airlines employee was in a certain way involved and it hit her had that one of the planes was an UA airliner.

Following 2001, the economy in Illinois really went to sh!ts. Major companies, BIG names, started to lay off people left and right if they didn't become bankrupt in the first place.

I myself also was laid off from my nice programmer job after approx. a year.

My wife, always extremely emotional, she was one of those persons always seeing doom and gloom on the horizon, likely also feared about her job.

The job situation was very bad again and by went several weeks or months looking, checking companies and those dreaded temp agencies as well. To make a long story short: After many un-successful attempts at getting a "real" job, I ended up with Manpower. This is a temp agency which, I think, Is big all over the US.

There was nothing better for me at that time than a $10/hour warehouse job at a BIIIIG company in Illinois. There was no alternative, so I started the job at M.

It was a physical job and the pay was "meeh", but I started to like the people at the job. It was NOT one of those awful warehouse jobs where you stand on a line and repeat the same thing over and over. In fact, we had lots of freedom hauling boxes and skids, and I become very well liked in the company.

There was always the "doom" hanging over my head that working for Manpower is really only a temporary job, and the worst was there was no benefits or anything.

For me, as an European it was unconceivable how it was possible to have a job, getting up at 6:00 every day, 7:00am start job til mid afternoon - and not have any kind of health insurance.

There was always hope that M. would turn their temp workers into real employees with benefits. But that never came about. However, the supervisors at M. and also the people at Manpower started to like me that much I was at this job at M. for almost 5 years, with smaller breaks in between, re-hired again etc.etc. Always for the same $10/hr and always the same with no no-benefits etc.

HOWEVER - we both had steady jobs, wife still at UA and I now working at M. and there was no reason to believe that would change anytime. We were not rich, but we had paychecks.


edit on 18-11-2012 by flexy123 because: (no reason given)

edit on 18-11-2012 by flexy123 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 18 2012 @ 03:14 AM

For my wife, the situation seemed to be awful and today I am still uncertain who's "fault" it really was. Was it my wife's fault to have unreasonable expectations? Why didn't she want to move into our first own apartment? Heck we were married - Adults! Or was it my fault that I was really being a loser, not having a "real job"...doomed forever to sit with her in a tiny room in her uncle's house?

For me, many years afterwards, I do actually think the problem was with her and I think she had unrealistic expectations. She dreamed of "stability" which in those days did simply not exist anymore.

There is no "guaranteed job", not at any company, not in a post 9/11 economy where layoffs were happening left and right.

That it wasn't idiotic to assume this was soon proven because now her company, Unites Airlines, started to lay off people. Her too!

However, she got a job at Sears - and this was actually a good thing. Sears offered health benefits which included me under her insurance, so i could go to the dentist and stuff like that. Believe me, if you work a job like at any of those temp agencies, health insurance through your spouse is a good thing!

After 6 or 7 years of marriage and me still working at M. (!!), it became just too stressful, our awkward living situation and in general her expectations and fears about the future and likely disappointment about my job (I assume) some personal stuff. Anyway we divorced but never regretted the years we had together. We both split up as friends.

At about the same with all the stress going on I met my "new" future wife online.

She is the exact opposite of my ex. My ex was overly concerned about any potential negative things to happen in the future, entirely unable to even move into an apartment because of her fear of uncertainty and "what ifs"....

My "new" wife lives from one day to the other, she can be very unreliable and seeming not to care about lots of things, but then ALSO able to surprise me with ingenious help when I least expect it. She is just 180 degree different.

So..I moved from Chicago to TN which was an entirely different world.

The south....just saying. Her parents are ultra conservative, religious, nevertheless very nice and i was welcomed.

When i moved to TN, of course I had to quit my job at M. which i had via Manpower.

The economy was already "bad" up in Illinois, but compared to TN Illinois was Disneyland. I did the usual runs from agency to agency and tried to get jobs via connections - just to find that the "best" jobs in TN would maybe pay $6 or $7. Which was irrelevant since I didn't even get those, even with my references having worked at M. for so many years.

Shortly after I moved to TN, my wife got a #ty job at some cafe as a barista. Thinking back this really embarrasses me to realize she did this job and I didn't have one.

The financial situation became more and more..catastrophic. Here my wife: Even with the finances FAR worse than back in IL - we moved into a shiny apartment in Jackson!

The apartment was awesome, there was A/C and new kitchen appliances and everything. We had to spent several weeks before at a friends house in TN in Tennesse's extreme hot summer. Our temporary room was under the roof, it was, let me guess, approximately 100 degrees under that roof all the time. Exciting times

So that new air conditioned apartment and my new GF was like a dream.

However, the financial situation hit a record low after approx. year. My new GF took all this pretty well, there was never even remotely the idea coming up that we would want to separate because of the financial troubles. However, after about a year she kind of relocated back to her parent's house - simply because job search, food etc. would be easier for her at her parents house. While I stayed for a few weeks longer at our apartment.

I also have to add that although the apartment was spectacular, Jackson was NOT. In fact, the area we were at was brimming with gang bangers, drug dealers etc. They tried to break in our apartment several times, I remember that one day I saw one of those hooded neighbors trying to get in - I surprised him appearing at the large front window - he was startled and waved back. They broke into the car, stole the CD player/radio.

Jackson was really a sh!thole - especially measured on European standards where crime (basically) does not exist.

The money situation got so bad I ate stale leftover pastries my wife brought back from her job. I remember that one day like it was yesterday where I was scraping the last pennies I had and went over to Kroger to buy Coffee. Without Coffee I can't function. I was embarrassed to hand over all those coins - but at least I could buy coffee.

Short: I had no penny in my pocket - it was the worst time in my life. Especially with my new GF only sporadically coming over.

Then...something remarkable happened.

edit on 18-11-2012 by flexy123 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 18 2012 @ 03:14 AM
Since I had no money, no job and nothing, I spent most of the time on the computer. Internet still worked. I think we started to move furniture into storage because it was also obvious we couldn't hold that apartment for any longer.

I remember the PC sitting on the floor because we already put the desk away.

Remembering back those days (I think it was 2006) - I think I was so desperate I typed "How to make money" into Google.

I somehow got hold of a book which was called "The Rich Jerk". In this book, there was this guy claiming all those things how people can make money online. Most of the things I didn't understand. He was talking about things like "affiliate marketing", or how someone can make websites and then become very rich just by people visiting the sites, clicking on ads or buying stuff from the site.

This entirely intrigued me because you will remember I had a background as a software developer, so i was familiar with making websites. And the internet was part of my life for many years already. I also did odd jobs for some others making sites, but it never crossed my mind that it would be possible to do was that "Rich Jerk" said in the book.

So, unemployed and so poor I didn't have $5 in my wallet, I started to make my own website(s). I was so poor I couldn't even buy a domain name (which is usually $9 bucks per year) - there was a site where I had to fill out tons of surveys and the reward was a domain name. And there were hosting providers where you could host any site for free.

I was *extremely* excited when I had my first own website and domain, It didn't cost me anything.

Of course, I was entirely stupid since I had no experience whatsoever, I thought that now since I have this site money should "automatically" come in....but boy was a wrong

Needless to say, the site was extremely pathetic looking at it back now, I just slapped some ads on the sides and thought that money would be rolling in.

But this is all not important. Whether anyone EVER visited my first site, I don't even know.

What happened was that I learned a lot. I learned there were so called "internet marketing" forums and I literally read every thing I could about those mysterious ways how someone can make money on the internet.

In the meantime..things got so bad financially that there was no other way for me than flying back to to Europe to my dad. My GF kept back in Jackson at her parents.

Not a nice time. I missed her, she missed me. I was back in Europe. I couldn't even talk German anymore. It was an entire different world for me after such a long time in the States.

After a few weeks at my dad's I got a nice little ("little" in the literal sense) apartment - the first thing I got was Internet..and I got even more into making websites and internet marketing.

To make this short: After about 1 or 2 years I learned anything from making sites, selling as an "affiliate" to making my very own product (ebooks etc.) from scratch, then make a site around it and selling it. On some days i made $1000 from selling my own product. I got bi-weekly checks from a bunch of sites.

I was not "rich" by a long shot, but I didn't have to worry about any bills anymore. I bought a big-a$$ 3D big screen TV, new computer etc.

I convinced my GF shortly thereafter to come here to Europe. And yes she came and we married a few weeks after in a very, very unspectacular ceremony.

Life was wonderful. From someone broke as hell I now didn't have to do anything because the sites I had made money automatically and I got checks all the time.

I realized that THIS IS IT and thought to myself that anyone else who is actually really "working" is a poor guy. I saw all the sad faces in the morning in rush hour sitting in their car, grouchy faces, going to work. I made money while I was playing video games.

Yes, me and my wife, we both were BIG into World of Warcraft, she even more than me. It's a great thing to have someone who shares such a hobby like video games - seeing that my old wife was the entire opposite.

With my wife we spent LOTS of hours online with our friends back in the US where we joined their "guild" and played WoW for hours on end.

To Spain!!

Back in Germany, we did pretty ok and did not have any worries about anything. However, after so long in the states and in particular for my wife, there was some issues with Germany:

1) The weather (which is plain s*** for 10 months a year)
2) She didn't speak German
3) My fellow Germans are "grouchy people which are only nice when they are drunk at the next beerfest"
Courtesy of my wife.

One of my dreams was to go to a sunny country, with plenty of Sunshine.

I looked at some sites and saw that apartment and houses in Spain were incredible cheap. For €300 one can rent a nice place with ANYTHING, pool included, 15 mins to the beach etc. Just awesome

We packed all our cats in carriers and flew to Spain, We got a great apartment and the greatest landlords one can even imagine. This is were we live now.

When there is is internet, it doesn't matter whether I am in South Africa, Zaire, Timbuktu, the US or Spain. This is the great thing. So i continued with what I was doing,maintaining my sites and learning how to rank them in Google etc.

But not everything is always so rosy.

There was some changes last year at Google which affected many website owners negatively. Their site visitors and income got less and some businesses were hit very hard. So was I. But I am also providing other services like writing and it's very easy to find jobs, get paid etc. on the internet. Life is tougher than, say, 2 years ago, but I embrace everything. Last week I landed new clients and projects. New clients, even if it first might start out with some dinky job, very often mean more potential opportunities and projects. For example, someone might contact you they only "need 5 articles written"...and then next week they want you to do 20 complete websites from scratch. Things like that happen all the time.

What does that all mean - why did I even write all that?

In the last weeks I read here on ATS about how a lot of people are frustrated because of the economy (which was already bad back in 2000, just as a side-note) - or how the outcome of the election makes it impossible for them to do this or that.


This is why I think my story should also give some people hope. The worst thing you can do is give up.

edit on 18-11-2012 by flexy123 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 18 2012 @ 04:30 AM
Concluding Remarks:

One of the more noteworthy things about my story would be the fact that I wouldn't have been able to do (and getting into what I do now) while back in IL working my 7am to later afternoon job at M. No fricking way.
After a long day's hard work, there is not much energy left. You might eat dinner, play a game or watch a movie and then go to bed to be fit for 6am.

Only my unemployment actually made it possible to have enough time on hands to learn a lot of things, or sit down starting to code sites, write ebooks and similar.

An extremely unpleasant situation made it possible to make something better. In an alternate reality, I might maybe STILL be working in a big warehouse today for $10/hr. Or work "for my boss", for someone else. I am very glad that things came like they came. If you encounter something bad, even as bad as being poor and unemployed, there is always an opportunity in this as well!

posted on Nov, 18 2012 @ 07:27 AM
I enjoyed your story very much, I gained insight into some of the differences between Europe and America. I also understand how the darkest nights can lead to much brighter days. Your story is about hope and it is wonderful that you share it to inspire others to hang on and keep going. Right now not giving up is something I need to hear, so I thank you for that.

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