29 and Jobless

While the pictures indicate it was a good time had by all, the depressed alcoholic atendees of this party are still looking for work. Great idea Absolut.

 

April 1, 2009. My boss comes into my office at the end of the day with tears in her eyes and says, “I need to talk to you.” As someone working in the art industry during a recession, I knew what was coming – in fact, I had been expecting it – and yet, when she told me the news in the moments that followed I was able to jump into the deepest end of the denial pool and convince myself that this was all a misguided April Fool’s Day prank leading up to a surprise raise. I think I even pathetically asked. I stand by that though – I mean,  if you’re ever in this rare situation, I still stay…better to ask and retain a job with the scariest boss in the world then bitterly walk out on what would have been a non-hilarious, awkward ‘whew’ and a steady paycheck. After confirming that this was not a joke (which I’m sure made my boss think, ‘at least we picked the right one to go’) I turned into a HUGE AWKWARD WEIRDO. She asked if I was ok and I said, “I’m fine! Don’t worry about me…I’m totally fine!” I gave her a hug – I think I even shook her hand! 

That must have been the Code Red right there, because soon after I got the walkout. I always thought the walkout was reserved for postal workers and highstrung lunatic-y Jerry Maguire types – but there I was – getting ready for the professional equivalent of a post-grad walk of shame. It wasn’t until I realized that I was going to be escorted out of the building that the thought of bitterly grabbing a loose box of staples or stray manilla folders crossed my mind. All of a sudden my soon-to-be loser-ish future as ‘The Dude’ flashed before my eyes and I felt like stopping and saying, “WAIT – before we start walking I need a minute to mess up my hair, rip my skirt, smear my makeup, roll in some dirt, and give myself a bruise. This will all be more effective if I look like I’m homeless and destitute right now.” 

As I drove home I thought to myself, “Oh maaaaan – those people are CRRAAAAAZY! They’re gonna miss me tomorrow!!! They’ll be calling for WEEKS with questions about all of my important responsibilities.” That night I drank two bottles of wine, smoked a pack of Marlboro Reds and passed out in a puddle of drool and ash on my porch. In the weeks to follow, no one from work would ever call with questions about my important responsibilities. 

It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for someone – it can turn you into a new person! It’s also amazing what a 12-hour booze-induced coma can do for someone. I woke up the next afternoon to find that I had turned into Marlon Brando overnight. I looked my black-eyed, puffy-faced self in the mirror and thought “I have some choices…” 

  1. Reprise the role of Don Vito in an off-off Broadway production of The Godfather (off-off Broadway = free performance monolugues from my porch)
  2. Stay in bed until this all blew over. Maybe see how much food it would take until one leg didn’t fit into one pair of pants anymore.
  3. Clean up my act, screw ’em all, and get a good job – a BETTER job –  TODAY.

I opted for number three. No way was I going to become the cliched picture of unemployment – the person who shuffles around aimlessly in a robe and slippers all day and takes their first cup of coffee with a pinch of sugar, a hint of milk, and just a litttttle bit of whiskey – “just to get the blood pumping!” Instead, I became  the person who shuffles around aimlessly in jean capris and a bikini top all day and takes her first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth cups of coffee in front of a laptop obsessivley alternating between Craigslist, Monster.com, and Hotmail. 

Only a couple days in I realized that a.) this finding a job thing was going to take longer than I had hoped and b.) using my finely-tuned powers of delusion I could create an alternate universe in my living room where I WAS working – and let me tell you, it was the perfect non-job. My daily routine for the next couple of months went something like this: 

  • 9am-noon: Obsessively check email – making myself TOTALLY accessible to the zero people trying to get in touch with me, while also staying CURRENT and UP-TO-DATE on EVERYTHING – like very important MSN Hotmail updates and Verizon User Upgrade Notifications.
  • noon – 12:15: WHEW – MUCH NEEDED lunch break – what’s on the menu today? I don’t know, but its going to be something using oatmeal and water!
  • 12:15 – 1pm: Take the dog for a walk. There’s nothing like being able to take a nice break outside and get some exercise in the middle of a hectic non-work day.
  • 1pm – 5pm: Research unemployment etiquette. If you haven’t ever been unemployed, you’d have no way of knowing this – but there are rules. And if you decide to become a productive unemployed person a basic requirement is that you read these rules – everyday – maybe twice a day – and gather insight on what other unemployed people have to say about being unemployed. Sometimes – for those extreme unemployed overacheivers, you can actually start writing yourself and become a blog expert on unemployment (in the real world this doesn’t equal a job, but in the unemployed world, this is basically next to godliness).
  • 5pm – 6pm: Create and further develop extensive time-management plans, scheduling rubrics, and online calendars for all of my non-events going on the next day at non-work.

Of course, throughout my non-work day I fit in some other things: actually looking for jobs, interviews, oatmeal recipe research, and 4-6 more dog walks – which, looking back, may have been overkill for poor little 11-pound Capone. 

Another thing I really liked about my parallel delusional world was that it allowed me to seem like a normal person to others – maintain a sunny disposition. 

” I DID lose my job, but somehow I’m still SO BUSY! You know me!” (=”wait, but do you need someone to check your email for you?”). 

“You’re right – unemployment IS just like a mini-vacation the state pays me to go on! It’s GREAT!” (when the state sends you to maximum security prison and you lay awake every night worrying about what’s going to happen the next day in the shower). 

“I would LOVE to catch up over dinner and tell you about my new prospects, but I have SO MANY things in the works right now.” (unless you’re buying, in which case I’d be willing to forgo my usual bowl of oatmeal with a side of silence). 

The truth about unemployment is that it’s just as awkward for those who have jobs as it is for those who lost them. When you give people the news you see it on their faces. “Oh s***. Well this just got awkward, what do I say now?” And if you can hold out jobless long enough, you can really start to pick out the ones who can’t handle it – the ones who stop calling to check up on you. Luckily, for me, San Diego was filled with good people and it seems that somehow, despite my sometimes reclusive or neglecting tendencies, I’ve surrounded myself with good friends. 

As comfortable as I was in my fake working life – it was all about to crumble… 

COMING THURSDAY: PART II – a.k.a. – “A Funny Thing Happened on my Way to the Job Fair” – in which I: 

  • Receive my first and last IOU from the state of California
  • Fabricate a fake company and ride on the coattails of its success…until it begins to catch up with me…
  • Take an unexpected turn – out of a Job Fair – and into a new life (oh that’s SO movie-trailer-ish!).

  

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6 Responses to “29 and Jobless”
  1. theweeklyargus says:

    When I was out of a job, I found myself going to my fitness club and offering full-body massages (with medicated lotion, of course).

    Granted, I probably shouldn’t have been doing it at my little sister’s elementary school while parents were picking up their kids (apparently there’s some sort of law against that), but what can I say? When you love doing something, you want to do if as often as possible!

    That said, it seems you found a far healthier approach to being jobless than I did. Congrats!

    • amanda says:

      Yeah – you’ve got to be careful with those medicated full body massages – one too many and suddenly you’re not just unemployed – you’re the unemployed creepster. Its a fine line – a fine line indeed.

      • theweeklyargus says:

        That’s true. When I heard parents telling their children to “get over here now” and “stay away from that man,” I know I probably needed to take my services elsewhere.

      • amanda says:

        Haha – well it looks like you’ve found a safer outlet in blogging! Hopefully you’ve been as lucky as I have in finding/creating work too!

  2. theweeklyargus says:

    That’s true. My therapist told me the best way to avoid my compulsive desire to give full-body massages to complete strangers was to write down every time I began feeling the urge.

    He also suggested that for some other things as well, but that would only cause you to look at a salad tosser in a whole new way. I fear I may have already said too much.

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  1. […] co-workers (well – ok, there was a little ridiculing, but all in fun). I did not lose my job (that day.) No one handcuffed me and drove me to rehab. I was not forced  to wear a scarlet “U” […]



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