the joys of gainful unemployment
January 18, 2009, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

there are so many reasons to be pleased about being jobless: waking up late, spending entire days in pyjamas, partying in the middle of the week with no worries about being hungover and grumpy at work, discovering my catlike reflexes (most often utilized to catch the fruit flies in our apartment, think an old asian man with chopsticks and you’ve got the right idea); but the true joy lies in simply having time. when we are caught up in the rat race we often forget to take time for the things we really value, diverting vast amounts of energy to supporting the system rather than our own lives. my values in life have always been simple: eating well, sleeping well and doing what makes me happy. no more and no less. granted these are all much easier said than done with artificial food somehow being cheaper than real food, anxiety and stress causing many of us to toss and turn all night long and so many conflicting messages about the things we should be doing with our lives. when we are caught up in the system, pumping away from 9-5 with barely enough time, or energy, to accomplish those 3 simple goals we have a tendency to forget ourselves, we just forget to take the time to nurture ourselves.

while being unemployed causes it’s own stress and anxiety, particularly with our fabulous current economic situation (which i will complain about in about in a future post), it is of a very different sort, and in a way i can’t quite peg down it is real to me in a way that job stress simply isn’t. my challenges are now more than making it to BART on time, disguising hangovers and annoyances behind tight smiles and assurances that i am fine, making the same phone call trillions of times to accomplish a simple task and feigning productivity on days i would rather be just about anywhere else. now my challenges really have to do with me and the ways i choose to spend my time, not the ways i have to spend it.

what is gainful unemployment you might ask. gainful unemployment is a glorious state of living that involves being without steady work and yet somehow being mysteriously productive. i’ve spent an absurd number of days staring at computer screens daydreaming of how much i could get done if i just didn’t have to be at work! jackets would be mended, walks taken, new food eaten, napping , movies watched, stories shared, new places discovered, in short: everything. so i quit, all three of my jobs and took my gainfully unemployed ass on the road. i traveled for 5 weeks across the u.s., making layovers in dc, new york, kansas, denver, rocky mountain national park, and boulder. once i got back i was faced with the decision of how to make money: do i jump back into working the 9-5 and hope my vacation was enough to hold me over for a while, do i say screw “respectable” work and become a drug dealer or a prostitute, or do i tell the entire monetary system to shove it and become a hobo? after toying with all aforementioned ideas (and many more believe you me) i chose the middle ground and settled on substitute teaching. and i love it.being a substitute teacher i consider myself among the connoisseurs of gainful unemployment. getting requested mostly for elementary schools and after school programs, i basically get paid to go and play all day, with the cherry on top being that i choose when i work. granted there’s some disciplining and many an adolescent ego to be checked, not to mention financial incentives to work as often as possible, but for a meaningful not highly demanding job you couldn’t ask for much more. in this indian sumter (a new word i just created combining summer and winter) i’ve been going to the beach after class, spending long afternoons basking in the sun, cooking/baking and started a garden, not to mention beginning and finishing many a backlogged creative endeavor. why have i been so personally productive? because i’ve had the time!

outside of the joy and hilarity of working with young people, there is a lifestyle that comes with this kind of work that simply suits me. i am a hard worker, but only if i feel it’s really worth my time. i’m not one of those that can work for profit alone, i need purpose behind my efforts not just incentive, and having the freedom to decide that today i will be more productive outside of work is mindblowingly beautiful. that sensible old black lady inside has always advised me of the value of slow movements, and for a while i ignored the wisdom in her words, not just out of choice but necessity. the way my life was structured, survival meant being on my toes always. and now that i have the time to move slowly again i am taking full advantage of it. long walks on the beach, candlelit dinners, listening to old favorites and discovering new ones, so basically i’ve developed habits that make me prime dating service material. any takers?


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