Unemployed Blogger Finds Humor In Rich/Poor Divide

When the economy sputters, and people are in pain, they search for some relief. They eat glazed doughnuts. They stop buying underwear (keeps things exciting). They flock to 3-D movies. They read blogs with punny titles written by other people in pain talking about dealing with pain.

At least that's been the discovery of Dina Gachman, aka The Elf, creator of Bureaucracy for Breakfast. Gachman (pictured above) started her blog (named while glancing at her morning bowl of oatmeal, while on hold with the Employment Development Department in California) in early 2010, after she was laid-off from her job as a film development executive.

Before that point, Gachman seemed on track to dominate the movie biz. Born in Texas, she went to UCLA, and then got an MFA in film production at USC. She wrote and directed a short comedic film that caught the attention of execs at Fox and NBC, and produced a dramatic short film that won a BAFTA and Student Academy Award. Gachman proved that she could do both comedy and drama.

But after only two years in the labor force, she found herself having to take those skills and go rogue on the Internet. And that is where she lives today, blogging to her growing base of fans about the various travails of prolonged unemployment: babysitting, hating rich people, writer's block, hating student loans, hating Sallie Mae, the company that provided her student loans, hating Albert Lord, the CEO of Sallie Mae, and her perhaps inappropriate fascination with "the virtual rags-to-riches democracy" of reality TV.

Gachman's success has grown steadily. Chelsea Handler listed Bureaucracy for Breakfast as a featured blog on her Borderline Amazing Comedy site, Gachman is in the process of turning her scattered musings in a coherent, chaptered book, and her comedic graphic novel is coming soon to a web near you.

Her readership may have begun with laid-off fellow citizens looking for a chuckle, but it's gone beyond that. Gachman has received notes of praise from such diverse human beings as a 50-year-old male teacher in Nevada and a woman in Iceland.

Now she's left that corporate job far behind, and is ever closer to her dream of being a writer who can pay the bills.

She isn't there yet though. Gachman's still on unemployment, and takes freelance jobs wherever she can find them. "That's my hustle," she says, which she supplements with "babysitting, plant-sitting, cat-sitting."

But if Gachman finds herself one day totally financially solvent -- with a multimillion dollar book deal in the works, perhaps -- will the teat of inspiration dry up and shrivel? She doesn't think so.

"I try to stay away from being 'I'm so pissed off about being pissed off,' " she says. "I think there's always other things. It's this rich/poor divide, there's endless material."

And the rich/poor divide has been a recurring theme of Gachman's writing. In her letter to Sallie Mae's CEO Albert Lord, she writes: "It's just a simple scientific fact: People with too much wealth go crazy and lose their minds. They get weird. They lose touch and do things like build wood-burning pizza ovens in their garden and then #humblebrag about it, or buy tiny diamond collars for their Siamese fighting fish."

So why all the beef with Sallie Mae? "I feel lucky that I was able to get a loan and go to school," she explains, "and I'm not asking for a handout. But the CEO is making $5 million a year off people who are barely, if at all, able to pay our loans. It's incredibly frustrating."

"I think most people who talk about the divide, they aren't saying 'We want yachts too,' " she adds. "They're saying 'We want the basics.' "

Despite the insecurity, the babysitting, the monthly loan payments to Sallie Mae, Gachman's layoff may have been a blessing in disguise. If she'd never been let go, she might still be wearing a suit, as opposed to spending days in coffee shops writing things that make people laugh.

"I'd like to think I'd have the guts to go out of my own," she says, "but I might still be there."

And now she gets to spend her days typing out her thoughts, working word-by-word, joke-by-joke, post-by-post, to the new dream: "Will I ever be able to pay my loans, and insurance, and save for retirement? I'd rather not worry about that, and write and do what I love."

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Getting a $70K Car for Christmas (It must be me)
Date: 2011-12-20, 12:24PM EST (CL rant - central NJ)
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Does anyone find these Lexus and BMW commercials portraying an upscale housewife in pure joy when she realizes there is a $70K+ car waiting for her in the driveway insensitive at the very least. The gap between the have's and have-not's is growing and I just wonder what the poor people think when they are confronted by this cutezy crap. I am sure that these commercials inspire the well-off to wrack their brains trying to come up a clever way to surprise their princess. Their minds must real at how it will all play out in the festive cocktail conversations in their busy holiday calendar. The aristocracy in this country is becoming increasingly oblivious to history and how far out over the top we have gone. I hope I live long enough to see how this plays out. I keep thinking of that early scene in Doctor Zhivago where the have's are having a festive holiday gathering while the peasants are being run down in the street during a protest. Later in the story, the tables have clearly turned. It must be me.

P.S. I know I sound like a crazy, bitter Bolshevik but I voted for Reagan and went to too many of those phoney cocktail parties.

"Fool on the Hill"

December 20 2011 at 12:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Want to understand debt, deficit, employment and austerity? Check out my article. I can't post the web address here, but any search engine can find it. The blog is called "Earth (and other) Matters".

November 03 2011 at 3:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Randy Arther

Why people don't want to work .I don't agree with your people .What the problem .Why are you unemployed .Its your mistake you are not in employment and not making money.If you really want to make money there is a lot of way to make money.One thing you only need ,its is your willing.Go down this link.Thanks.

October 15 2011 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dina Gachman is a star!!

She's got that Texas literary originality coupled with a wonderful sense of humor, much needed these days.

October 12 2011 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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