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Same Thing, Different Day :: Being Unemployed


photo credit :: christopher sly

This is a story I wrote when I was unemployed.  Sometimes, I need to remind myself of that experience so I can get through work.

Every day is the same when you’re unemployed, and I mean when you are seriously unemployed.  Not the “I’ve only been unemployed for four weeks and I’m still enjoying my time off” kind.  No, I mean the out-of-work-for-four-months debilitating and desperate kind.  The kind that wakes you up in the middle of the night with the rapid breathing of a panic attack, leaving you wondering into the wee hours of the morning why no one calls for an interview, how you will pay that growing pile of bills, or even what day it is.

Sometimes, though, a minor event can become quite significant and provide the means for distinguishing one day from the next.  Like, last Monday I did something different and never got out of bed.  Today, as I reached for the toothpaste, I accidentally grabbed a tube of hair product and conditioned my teeth instead.

My friends tell me I really should appreciate my time off.  I think they say this so that they can feel better when complaining about their jobs and drinking Grey Goose and Tonics as I sip the club soda the bartender gave me when I told him I was the designated cab hailer for the evening.  I argue that sleeping all day is a reasonable form of appreciation.

“No, you should go out, see things, do things.  Do all the things you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had the time,” Susan tells me, and for two whole minutes I’m inspired by her interest in my golden opportunity.  The possibilities race through my mind:  I could learn a language, craft faux antique leather bags, or start a foundation for underprivileged shoe addicts like myself.  Then she asks me what I did today, and I lose my excitement with the realization that Susan must be drunk.

What did I do today?  Oh, that’s a good one.

I hate this question because it puts so much pressure on me to have actually done something.  I used to try to be creative, tossing out such engaging anecdotes as:  “Today, I saw Ron Howard on the street and almost spoke to him.”  Or “I attended a political rally for citizens opposed to something.  I can’t remember exactly what it was, but their passion for the cause was pretty infectious.”

However, I lost my interest in make-believe daily activities about the same time I lost recollection of actual ones.  I’d start telling Susan about Oprah’s interview with Joyce Carol Oates, and she’d stop me with:  “You told me about that interview yesterday.”

“Oh… It was a two-part interview.  Joyce had a lot to say.”

“I doubt it.”

Eventually, I decided to take Susan’s advice and do one of those things I always thought I should do but never had time for, that being, visit Brooklyn.   However, as soon as I stepped out of the subway station, I realized that I made an error in not planning ahead.  In my more worldly adventures, I had always prepared itineraries complete with pop-up maps and back-up routes.  Now, standing on a corner in Brooklyn, I had no idea where I was going.  I slowly walked towards the Manhattan skyline, stopping when I reached the water.  I stood there for a full five minutes, taking in the view and musing that perhaps my aimless wandering had brought me exactly where I needed to be.


::CC also writes at Lowbrow Life::

December 23, 2009 10:54 am

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