Perfect fall days in New England. The last few days have had clear skies, crisp mornings that warm up to sleeveless shirt temperature. Black birds that I assume are crows are more frequently seen, gathering, cawing, hopping over dubious bits near the road edge.

Yesterday I had an early morning drive, mandated by the state. I had to fill my gas tank. When did gas go up to $2.55? I watch as the dollar amount tick upward, whirring past so that the numbers don’t register. I think it is ironic that because I’m unemployed, and hence with no income, that I’m being forced to drive for forty minutes, fill up my car, and spend money I don’t have, all so I can sit in a perfunctory, mindless unemployment orientation that has no information you can’t easily get on the webpage and at least half of which is an admonition that fraud is bad.

More crows.

There are three ways to get to the town with the Unemployment Office. One is the highway, but I decide against that because I always miss the exit to that town, thinking I want the next one and then realize as I pass it that, no, it was this one. I know I do this, so then I get paranoid, and have, once or twice, taken an exit too soon. The other two routes are two-lane state roads, lovely but prone to erratic speed limits and the odd farm equipment traveling five miles an hour for miles and miles and no way to pass since we’re in the hilly part of the state.

I risk a state road and am treated by the natural beauty. Going through the forested hills always makes me think of going to camp in Michigan when I was a child, or vacations of some sort. So nice to live in an area that screams “vacation” when just doing mundane things like wasting time and money to sit on uncomfortable chairs with other sad, worried and desperate people.

The morning sun is strong and since I’m headed south the rays filter through the trees with a strobe effect, blinding me off and on. I put my left hand up to ward this off and end up driving one handed while the left promptly falls asleep. My god that pond is sapphire blue in this light.

I wish I had a camera. There’s no where to stop if I did, plus I’d be late. But that would be a beautiful photograph. My mind takes a snap.

I know exactly where the office is, this not being my first rodeo. This is not a happy memory. I wonder if any of my co-workers will be there. They are not. Good. I really don’t want to see them.

Because of the Internet, I already know that my benefits are covered at 100%, unlike last time. That should be good news, and it certainly is better than not being covered at 100%, but the reality is that it still won’t cover my monthly rent, let alone anything else.

Unemployment no longer has extensions, thanks to the Republicans. Twenty-six weeks and then you’re done. The speaker reminds us that those weeks go by quickly and after that the only thing they can do is refer you to United Way. I look around the room and wonder how many people voted to cut off their own noses. Then again, so few people vote, the number in the room may not be that high.

I am angry.

I splurge on a Dunkin’ Donut, because: New England. Maple frosted, because: New England. I grimace at the bitter coffee, because: New England.

Farm stands filled with sweet corn and plump pumpkins. Driveways decorated with figurines made of pumpkins and gourds, dressed and sitting in lawn chairs, because: New England. Self-serve egg stands, $3 a dozen, both tempting and a bit scary. Covered bridges, numbered for easy sightseeing and history bits. The river, peaceful and reflecting the ridiculously blue sky, with the upside down mill towns mirrored.

Sprouting like weeds are campaign signs for a special election in that county. The only signs are for the Republican candidate. The signs bloom in the yards of low income, shabby housing. I’ve been spending days being versed in how the safety nets are being gnawed into worthless, hole-filled rags. You don’t even hear the term “compassionate conservative” anymore. They’ve dropped that ruse. I’m glad the One Percent remains taken care of.

Fall colors aren’t yet at full peak. The hills and mountains are still mostly green, with hazy red and orange patches. Every so often I pass a maple that has hit vermillion. The old apple tree loaded with yellow apples, the sunlight making great patterns of sun and dark, with the orbs and near bare limbs. I wish I had a camera again.

It’s fall, for sure. It will be for a while. My seventeen year old car has been making a near imperceptible hesitation on the trip down and back. I don’t go anywhere unless forced, like today, because I worry about my car. Fall leads to winter. I drive a rear wheel drive flat lander car which is near useless in snow. I used to live right around the corner from my work, and that was lucky because I still haven’t been able to afford snow tires. This winter I’ll need them. I have no money.

This is all so familiar and not in a good way. The drive comes and goes and somehow I’m back home.

The featured photo IS a real life photo, taken from my it-usually-takes-crap-photos phone. I passed this scene every day. Lucky timing that it caught a leaf in mid-suicide.