Saturday, June 6, 2009

"Funemployment" a little whack

I suppose someone had to write it: The story about how great it is to be unemployed. Read it here.

I thought I'd offer my $0.02. It's a good time to do so, as this week marked six months since I was laid off.

It's difficult to even comprehend that it's been that long. There's not a day that goes by that I don't wake up and think to myself, "If I can get moving, I can make it to the office by 8 a.m." Then I remember there's no office to go to -- at least that wants me.

My first month of unemployment, I thought about money nearly all the time. After a couple of months, and the checks from the state started rolling in and we got Jean's house rented out, it became clear that we would be OK financially, as long as we tightened our belts and cut back on a few things.

Although now I have to worry about unemployment benefits running out. It's sobering to think that if I'd been taking the maximum every week, I'd have run out by now. Because I've been doing some freelancing, that gets deducted from my benefit and, as a result, essentially makes it last longer. I understand the federal bailout includes a provision for an additional term of benefit, but frankly I'm not the sort of person who is content to remain on the public dole indefinitely. I don't feel ashamed about being in this position -- especially in a state where 10 percent of the people are in the same boat -- but it doesn't make you feel great about yourself, either.

"Funemployment?" That sounds a little perverse to me. I have not used this situation to lay out at the beach, take up golfing or wallow in other leisure activities. I'm watching a lot more movies, but I try to write about everything I see for my web sites. Yes, I often enjoy doing it, but I see it as keeping my writing skills sharp, and hopefully building an audience for my work.

When I was a kid I complained that I was bored all the time, but as an adult the concept of boredom eludes me. There are always things to do, books to be read, new skills to sharpen.

I think about what I've done in the past week that I never could have done before. I recorded, edited and posted a podcast. I worked with html code, edited photos. I even arranged advertising -- something I thought I'd never do.

So even though I think I've been using my time productively, and I'm happy about the new skills I've picked up, I would still have rather been working my job and drawing a check all this time. And if a reporter came to me and asked me if I'd been having lots of fun since I lost my job, I would politely ask her if she was from another planet.

OK, I'll fess up to one fringe benefit. Just last night, I was saying to my wife that for probably the first time in my life, I'm consistently getting eight hours of sleep a night. As a result, my energy level is through the roof -- I pretty much have to force myself to go to bed, because I'm not really tired.

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