A Little Bit of Wonder is where I journal about the somewhat roundabout way that I have been working to establish a career and a strong sense of self--I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about "direction" and "identity." I have a Master's Degree in Literature, but I'm no longer working as an English Professor; I'm starting the next step in my life as I work to establish a career as a writer in the non-profit sector.

At my companion blog, Little Wonder's Recommended Reading, you will find reviews for both books and other blogs that I enjoy. The two blogs are inter-linked, so you can access my reviews and reading challenges from the sidebar on the left.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Confessions of an Unemployed Recluse

Alright, I’ll admit it – being unemployed has its perks, at least if you have a cushion. I am lucky enough that my husband has a good job, so if I can’t find work for a few months, I’m not going to go hungry or miss a rent payment. I realize that not everyone is so fortunate and I don’t mean this post to be insensitive to anyone who is stretched thin. But if, like me, you have someone who’s got your back (my husband’s phrase, not mine) while you’re job-hunting, then being unemployed can make you feel a lot like you’re a high school or college student on Christmas Break. I’ve got loads of time on my hands but can’t get out of the house too often, so I have the luxury of spending my quiet days on frivolous and/or relaxing things around the house.

Despite the fact that I’m no longer sixteen and do in fact have a car of my own, I don’t want to go out as much as I usually do, even to the library or to the mall – for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s been ridiculously, freakishly cold. It’s supposed to be more mild in New York than in my home state of Michigan, but right now, I really couldn’t tell the difference between Nyack and the northern part of the Michigan mitten. Since I have the luxury of doing (or not doing) whatever I want, I’ve spent several days refusing to go outside – or even change out of my candy-patterned pajama pants. Somehow I always feel warmer and more cheery when I am wearing my favorite PJs. So, I spend many mornings sitting by the window and admiring the fluffy white snow while I sip Winter Spice tea; I feel guilty that my husband has to go out every morning and shovel off the car, braving the cold to get to work. I am lucky that I can do my job-hunting while sitting next to the oven, which is exuding the smell of the pumpkin pie that I am baking. Or from the comfort of my cushy bed while I have the TV on in the background.

I also don’t want to go out of the apartment too often because then I am tempted to spend money – money that I don’t have. That’s the downside to unemployment that I am in fact experiencing: a spending freeze. My husband buys the groceries and the gas; I have my credit card for emergencies. Getting out of the apartment every once in a while is healthy and necessary, but if I start hanging out at Starbucks every day, that’s going to start to add up. I’ve got enough to keep me busy via the internet anyway, so I have decided that I’ll just avoid the temptation of cute sale items at the mall and instead tick off items on my to-do list at home.

Except I haven’t been able to check off many of the things from that list.

First of all, I keep writing more lists of things to do than actually doing them: Things To Do Around the House, Things to Research for My Book, Emails To Write, Blog Posts To Write, Book Reviews to Write, Books to Read… and then there’s the list I recently started compiling of My Favorite Episodes of The X-Files. It's a time-sucker to research that one, let me tell you.

Next on the list: tackle the stack(s) of unread novels on my desk and bookshelf, then write reviews of them. Read as many books as possible before I get a job.

Despite the fact that I have recently started a book blog, I haven’t done a whole lot of reading – I’m feeling too antsy. Ironically, this is probably because I haven’t been getting out of the house; if I spent more time moving around, then I’d probably be able to spend more time actually sitting still, as well. So I keep surfing through other people’s blogs and trying to network with other bloggers. I have also written several reviews of novels that I have read within the past two months instead of reading new books. It’s as though I feel that I should be producing something, and so while actually sitting down to read for more than an hour or so seems “idle,” working on the design/HTML code for my blog or whipping up another mini-essay on the merits of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing is adding content to my website – a product. I really need to just sit down for an afternoon and get around to reading Moon Over Manifest, especially since I just spent my Christmas Amazon gift certificates on several novels that my fellow Y.A. book bloggers recommended.

I have to admit that other (even more ridiculous) pursuits have side-tracked me from reading an actual book (or the even more important job hunting itself). I will start searching for one thing on the internet and come across something very amusing. My favorite diversions have been my discovery of Dexter bobble-heads:

The runner-up for best amusement/diversion was the related discovery of Dexter action figures:

The final confession: I haven’t taken down my Christmas tree yet. This is less because I’m being lazy or distracted, and more because I just don’t want the holidays to be over. Until better weather arrives, it’s nice to have our cheerily-lit little four-foot tree adding a glow to the living room/dining room. It makes the dull afternoon and early darkness more bearable; I feel a little less lonely. I am reminded of the way that I would sit by the tree in my parents’ home late at night, my fuzzy-slippered feet up on the coffee table, staring at the glimmering white lights as they reflected in the face of the grandfather clock. I would be holding a novel, but sometimes be distracted for five minutes at a time by my sheer enjoyment of the twinkle-lights and their reflection. Then, just as I would return to my book, my mother would come in and sit down, distracting me again. We would quietly enjoy the lights together.

So even though I am unemployed, all these diversions and activities have helped me to set aside my anxiety for the moment; I feel as though the whole month of January has been like one long extended Christmas Break. That has been especially appreciated because I had mono over the actual Christmas/New Years holiday and wasn’t really able to enjoy any of the usual festivities. But I’m fully aware that not everyone who is unemployed feels so safe and cared for; not everyone has someone like my husband who has “got their back.” I don’t feel guilty, exactly, for being so lucky – but I do want to be sensitive to the fact that I’m in the minority. Despite whatever concerns each person might have, though, and even in the midst of the unusually cold winter that has set in upon much of Northeast America, I hope that people can take the time to enjoy a little more holiday cheer – or at least a Dexter bobblehead—with me.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...