Thursday, March 05, 2015


I just really want to go shopping...

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The Unemployment Chronicles

This entry is for my friend Bill and Conrad.  Here is a blog so big and bad, it'll make you think twice about asking me to write another one.

Greetings from the Land of the Unemployed!

I'll be honest, I was slightly surprised when I got laid off, although I did see it coming a few weeks prior.  I wasn't exactly devastated by the news though.  I had been daydreaming for some time about a fresh start, possibly doing something entirely different.  I hadn't had the balls to break away myself so here was the universe taking care of it for me.  What new job or--screw it, career--was I going to find that would inevitably be a better fit for me, if not immediately, surely in the long run?

It's Week 7 now, and the search continues.  You might imagine me being absorbed by the quicksand of my couch, sinking deeper by the day under the weight of frozen pizza, light beer, and binged television.  I am foolishly proud to say, I haven't had one entire day where I was that unproductive.  I have had the occasional splurge on a lunch beer and a "Friday Night Lights" episode, and who's going to sweat me a power nap if I'm able and in need.  Generally speaking though, I've kept relatively busy.  It has been so incredibly nice to live by my own schedule and not rush anything.  Having held down a job nearly every day since I was 15 years old (minus a few post-college months), it was truly surreal in those first few days of unemployment to be out in the world on a Tuesday afternoon with no place to go.  I felt like Jim Carrey in "The Truman Show" when he starts to realize something is not right and starts running into random buildings to see if people are really in there living.  As it turns out, whether I have a job or not, the world spins madly on*.

Once I got used to the concept, being job-free has been a blessing--financial hardship notwithstanding.  I realize now how much residual, generic stress I was carrying around.  I find I'm smelling the roses a lot more often now and not simply because I have more time to do so.  And just because I don't have a job, it doesn't mean there's no work to do.  I've gardened, grocery shopped, cooked, cleaned, and laundered.  There is something so right about being home before dark and taking the time to not simply heat food, but cook it.  I think I would make an ideal househusband.  Alas, that is not my fate, but I am hoping this will be my chance to find the job/career that I am suited for and that I will flourish in.

I actually went to a career workshop to see about figuring out what perfect job might be.  It was quite helpful to not only identify my skills, workplace values, etc., but to see them right there on paper, in workspeak lingo I can use in an interview, should I ever get one.  There were indeed some non-entertainment careers that interested me.  Unfortunately, the real contenders either don't pay enough for me to live, require going back to school and incurring even more student loan debt, or both, meaning I'd have to go back to school to be qualified for a job that doesn't pay enough to make the student loan payments.  To say nothing of funding a family, a house, and a cat who believes her every meal to be an all-you-can-eat buffet.  I understand the argument that says life is long and I should think of the bigger picture, i.e. sacrifice in the short term to become a psychologist or something and recoup when the earnings eventually do build up.  Here's the thing.  I can see making that sacrifice if the career in question (I don't think it would be psychology, but let's roll with it) were my actual heartfelt passion, my dream.  But I don't see the wisdom in going further into debt, going back to school, moving into a studio apartment (probably being dramatic with that) so that I can be a psychologist when what's in my heart is to be an actor.  So go be an actor!, right?  That is what I would prefer to do, to continue to pursue acting, but find a parallel career in a place that is right for me.

Then there are the dark days.  I'm averaging 1.2 days per week where I feel like a loser and a failure.  I waste time recounting the things I might have done differently, jobs I might have refused, others I might have held out for, choices I should have made, stands I should have taken.  Luckily, I don't let these days conquer the faith and hope that otherwise carry me through.  I do wonder sometimes though, if I wouldn't have been better off with a different outlook on work and career from the very start.  Maybe my problem is that I bought into the idea that you should love your job.  Maybe this idea that a person's career should be this harmonious, enriching experience in which they provide their unique talents to a task and get paid handsomely for it is a sick joke.  Maybe a job is just supposed to be a job and a person should, from the beginning, pursue whichever career they are most capable of that will provide them the most money to take care of their family, within the limits of the law, of course.  Today's my dark day for the week, can you tell?

This is where I am right now.  I reread "The Alchemist" recently, which hit home more so now than the first time I read it.  I'm out on the trail now, keeping an eye out for the omens, determined to chase down my Personal Legend, wherever it may be.

*I don't know if I am only quoting the song of the same name by The Weepies, in which case I would have put the phrase in quotes, or if this is an actual saying.