The ugly side of unemployment

Earlier, I wrote about the advantages of being unemployed, which I did mainly to make myself feel better about the shit-fuck of a situation I’m now in. Sadly, I’ve learned over the past year that the disadvantages of being job-free outweigh the advantages.

You’ll see.

1) No money. None. Zip. Zilch. Hakuna. Here’s a little tale about your pal McCrabass. Once upon a time, I had money. I made sweet moola working as an assistant film/video editor in Hollywood even though I worked almost exclusively on craptastic stuff, but the monetary rewards were fuckin’ golden. The healthcare was decent and so were the other perks like mandatory overtime, being able to write shit off, free movies and working on films. Pretty cool. I learned a great deal about myself and about human nature, so it’s safe to say that working in the movie biz is the best life training out there. That training will help me become an awesome journalist. Shit howdy — I’m already well on my way.

You’re probably wondering to yourself right about now “Hey Julia, why the hell did you leave such a lucrative career? What the crap is the matter with you??!?” I’ll tell you why — it’s a soul-stealing, and soul-sucking business. I got tired of working for self-important blowhards (you know who you are). I’d go into more detail here but it’s really not all that interesting. Basically, I had an epiphany, said “Sayonara” to LA and headed back East.

However, those of you who know me and those who know me via this blog, are well aware that Chicago has been less than welcoming. So, I’ve spent a better part of my tenure in Chicago unemployed and trying to break into a job market that’s stuck in the fucking Dark Ages. I’m broke. I got nothing. It’s depressing as all hell and sadly, this bad financial situation has taken some serious hits on my self-esteem. Needless to say, I have bupkes for self-esteem.

Add being mentally beat to shit with having no funds, and you have a troubled soul with little to offer. It sucks out loud.

2) Not being out among the living. During the past 11 months, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to get up everyday in the pre-dawn hours, shower, put on makeup, and figure out which fetching outfit I’m going to wear that day.  I’ve forgotten what it’s like to ride the archaic CTA on a daily basis, and be among the beautiful people as they trudge to their jobs. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have co-workers and a job to do.

I’m beginning to feel like Tom Hanks when the plane he was riding in got all jacked up, and.. and.. he ended up stranded and skinny on a tropical island bonding with a piece of playground equipment.

In the summer, I miss getting caught on the CTA on a game day. There’s nothing more amusing that watching some Schaumburgian shitbag Cub fan who’s shitfaced on the El loudly squawking about how there are sooooo many hot women in the city but too many n*ggers.

Wait…come to think of it, being a hermit has its advantages, but the disadvantages outweigh them. I need to see the shitbags and the normal folks to keep me motivated. Going on long walkabouts (my new thing) ain’t the same as being among the hustle and bustle of the maddening crowd.

3) Few and far between. I have two freelance gigs that I love. They’re challenging and very fun. I learn tons and tons – when I’m at them. See, there’s the rub. I’m not doing either job enough because there isn’t enough work and as a result, I forget basic tasks then I make mistakes & end up feeling like a choad. Add that to the crap-for-self-esteem and being dirt poor and you’ve got a ghost of a McCrabass. Add poi, and you have the most disgusting combo platter EVER.

4) Not keeping up appearances. This ties in with #2. In short, I’m a hot mess. I don’t shower every day unless I’ve been at Bikram or out on one of my walkabouts. The need to be all clean and sanitized is a very low priority especially when there are other things that are more pressing like keeping the couch down and timing my day around “Friends” reruns.

The bad thing is, I’ve forgotten what I look like all dolled-up. I’ve had to ask friends and family if I was ever even remotely attractive since I don’t have any photos of me anywhere. (I loathe having my picture taken — cameras tend to break when they’re pointed at me. They just explode.) Makeup? Que? I have no idea what that is anymore. I came across a Laura Mercier lipstick in my purse the other day and it took a good 5 minutes of heavy-duty thinking to figure out what the hell I was looking at.

However, I have psyched myself up to wash my hair at least once a week because, after all, it’s good to have goals.

5) Time is a thief. Since I’m a member of an age group that has been deemed un-hireable, being unemployed for this long is not good. It’s a killer. Each day of me being unemployed basically ensures that I’ll never get a decent job ever again because those with no experience, but are young, are getting all the sweet gigs. I’ll never have health benefits or a 401k, or have the opportunity to get rip roarin’ drunk at the office holiday party, take my top off and dare the boss to play motor boat with my delicates. Oh the fun my co-workers coulda had.

Soon, I’ll have to get extensions, keep dyeing my hair, seriously consider getting Botox and lose a ton of weight if I ever want to get past the first phone interview. (HR folks can sense what you look like via your voice these days.) Thank god plastic surgeons have payment plans.

6) So bored. I can only write so much in one day. I can only watch so much tee vee too. I can only rearrange crap in my apartment so many times. I can only wander around this city so many times before I want to jump in the lake. I can only read so much — both online and in book-form — before I want to scream. I can only look at the job sites for so long before I want to start calling my former bosses and telling them what I REALLY think of them.

See? This is unhealthy.

It would be better for the world if I had a meaningful job.

4 thoughts on “The ugly side of unemployment

  1. My last day of work was in April, 2010. I adore being unemployed — except for the money. I miss none of the hassles of working, dressing for and getting to work, dealing with other employees, etc. Fuck all that and all them and leave me free to do what I fucking LIKE to do, even if that is often nothing at all. Don’t you think I’d rather sit in the sun and read Jonathan Franzen’s novel than hunch at my desk decoding the Managing Director’s budget memo?

    But of all the concerns you delineate here, the only one that puzzles me is the bit about losing self-esteem. Why would anybody allow her job to have such an outsize affect on her evaluation of her personhood? It’s a fucking job — they have to pay people to do it or it wouldn’t get done. What does that tell you?

    Of far greater importance are the zillions of intangibles — one’s decency, integrity, appreciation of truth and beauty, responsibility, etc. Next comes achievements, some of which might be job-related, but think of all the others you’re justly proud of. Things you did because you wanted to, and did them well or at least gave it your best effort.

    Fuck work and its insidious poisoning of the American psyche. Don’t buy into that shit. Life is not work and work is not life. Life is life — there’s a tautology worthy of a tattoo. But you better not let your employer see it.

  2. You have managed to be hysterically funny and pithy about this predicament. And therein lies your supreme talent. I suspect you are destined to write a book (or finish one) and allow others to revel in your insights. I know no one else who can do this like you can. As for myself, I relate so much to what you say. After being thrown under the bus at DePaul I was very low and had to go to California and see old friends to motivate myself to get back on the horse. Writing my book and co-writing songs along with wine tasting became the concoction of revivification for me. Oh, but then Dave got thrown under the bus. Oh, yeah. Thanks, Matt. So there we were; in our fifties and starting all over. It is not fun, I still stress about the future. Being in my late fifties is no advantage. So I say we reinvent a new reality. I read an article that the over-fifties group is the largest percentage of self-employed. There is a reason for that. Necessity. Whatever else goes on, write the book. Get it published. (And please, throw in a morsel or two about a certain sociopath at a certain institution of higher-learning.) Meanwhile, thanks for being the funniest woman on the planet and for using language like no one else. Love you.

  3. For over twenty years I worked first in TV commercial film production and next in network news. Both were as you so aptly describe, “soul-stealing and soul-sucking”. When I quit TV news in early 2004, the gig I had lined up fell apart with a splat. Rather than crawl back on my hands and knees to working again in TV news, I was determined to do Anything Else. It took almost nine months to find Anything Else, my current gig, which I am cleaving to like a barnacle due to this economy hating everyone over 40 and under death with, in my case, a pretty useless resume. I suspect you have a more useful resume than you realize. I hope you find your Anything Else in the New Year. As Jesse Jackson would say, “Keep hope alive!”

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