This is how it goes, with one week to the six month mark.

I try to get up before noon, and I take Virgil out. Then I drink an entire pot of espresso, which enables me to get dressed. Machiavelli used to put on a formal suit— “the clothes an ambassador would wear”— when he went to his study to write. My armor is my headphones and a playlist: Lenny Kravitz, POS, Santigold.

I apply for jobs online. I now only apply to jobs I am overqualified for. I apply for jobs I have hired other people to do. I apply for jobs where the director in charge of hiring is a 26 year-old graduate of Syracuse or Clarkson. I never hear back.

You’ve read about this— a bit. You’ve started reading the article that says, “After six months without a job, the unemployed just stop looking.” The articles that say, “Networking has never been more important than it is now in the job search.” But you don’t finish them. Why would you? They are depressing, and you get the point.

But I can tell you about that six month mark. It is a breaking point— it is the point at which you get broken. You are 42 years old, and unemployed. You have no contacts from your past. Your fluency in three foreign languages, your knowledge of post-structural literary theory, evolutionary biology, and the public transit systems in six capital cities on three continents doesn’t give you strength. It doesn’t give you an interview, or a call back. It doesn’t give you anything.

We are all fragile, but you have built something over the years. You have behaved yourself when things were fucked up, stuck through some difficult moments, relied on people and been reliable yourself. You have built up your stock in a community; you have social bonds.

I am the guy in the coffee shop who seems, at first glance, to be taking a break, just having a latte. But then you recognize me: the job search website on my laptop, and my indifference to the time I have been sitting there. I’m not going anywhere.