Is That In the Schedule?

(originally posted on on 9/21/10)

Well, hello there, Blog-Friends!  Long time, no see.  Is this turning into a weekly blog?  It kinda seems so, based on my behavior.  But do I really need to impose that sort of schedule on a blog?  Can I just write, you know, whenever I feel like it?  That’s just so out of character for me.  For three years I have been the Keeper of the Schedule…not my own, really, but my boss’s schedule (and let’s face it, he was WAY busier than me).  So I think I’ve become programmed to schedule every day down to the half-hour.  Hey, at least it’s not down to the minute.  Not yet, anyway.  Give me a few weeks.

Take this whole unemployment thing.  I’ve basically arranged my weekdays to reflect that of your typical desk jockey:  wake up, work-out, shower, get ready, eat breakfast, “report” to work.  9am-1pm is for responding to emails, browsing for jobs, reading the latest industry and world news, and admittedly checking out my friends’ Facebook pages (cuz, hey, I did that at my office job, too).  1pm-2pm is for lunch (longer if I have a lunch date, as you have to accommodate for transit times – I used to actually schedule “transit” in my boss’s schedule – and it was always in blue).  2pm-6pm is for longer-range planning, strategizing, project implementation, more browsing for jobs, snack breaks, perhaps even an errand or two.  But now there’s all kinds of other stuff coming up, and I think – where is that going to go in the schedule?  For example, I desperately need to learn some rudimentary Spanish for my upcoming trip to South America (I found through experience that it’s pretty essential to be able to ask where the nearest bathroom is).  Does that fall into my “work” day?  Or is that for my “time off”?  If I study Spanish from, say, 3-4pm every day, does that count as goofing off?  Should I wait until I “clock out” at 6pm?  How about that etsy shop I want to open?  Does making upcycled handbags count as my primary work, or should it be relegated to the “moonlighting” position?  And why the hell am I even obsessing over this?  Is that OCD gene kicking in?  Or is it my middle-class guilt that I’m collecting a wage (unemployment) without really doing anything?  Good lord, sounds like I need a Valium.  I think I have a bad case of Calendar-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  After so many years of living and dying by The Schedule, it’s hard to let go.

Oh, it’s 12pm PST.  Time for my regularly schedule bathroom break.

COBRA and Other Venomous Specimens

(originally posted on on 9/7/10)

I have officially made it through one week of unemployment.  I’ll admit, though I’ve made endless “to do” lists and have had a flurry of energy, I had moments of feeling at loose ends.  Moments where I felt that all my glorious planning about What To Do Next had done nothing but create a mountain of not-yet-started projects that, at times, felt insurmountable.

I felt a bit like that today.  Dealing with anything related to health insurance makes me want to jump off the Santa Monica bluffs on my next morning run, so I’ve been putting off looking at the big packet that recently came in the post containing everything I ever wanted to know, or not know, about COBRA.  For my dear Blog-Friends who may be reading this in Canada (or some other country lucky enough to have socialized medicine) and are super-confused about why I may be receiving poisonous snakes in the mail, COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconstruction Act.  Quite a mouthful, no?  Basically, it means that I can elect to pay the premium so that I can continue to have health insurance coverage.  So that if I were to, say, be bitten by a cobra I could actually go to the hospital for it.  Ain’t America great?  However, I swear you have to have a doctoral degree to understand the minutiae of this literature they send to you.  But I think I have it figured out.  If I am summarizing the information correctly, it goes something like this:  pay us an obscene amount of money, and we’ll try to do our best to make sure you don’t die.  Or something like that.

So while I might dream at night of being bitten by venomous snakes and have moments of ambiguity during my days, for the most part this unemployment thing is pretty awesome.  That being the case, I find it amusing that when I tell people of my recent lay-off, the first thing they want to do is console me.  I’m not quite sure why this is, since usually my admission is complemented by a huge smile or a shout of “Yahoo!”.  I don’t need to be consoled.  I needed the consolation when I was employed.  THAT was dreadful.  This…this ain’t so bad.

Reality? Check.

(originally posted on on 9/1/10)

A few observations since beginning my “funemployment”:

1.  There are alot of people at the gym at 10:30am.  Who are these people?  What do they do?  Are they unemployed like me?  Do they have night jobs?  Are they trust fund babies? (Probably no on that last one – I go to Bally’s, a distinctly low-budget gym).  Having been holed up in a windowless cubicle from 9am – 7pm for the last three years, I’m amazed that there are people out and about during the day.  Riding bikes.  Shopping.  Having coffee.  Hell, there is more traffic on Santa Moncia Blvd. at noon than at 9am.  How is this possible?  And why has it taken me so long to join this terrifically sunshiney world?

2.  In the 13 years that I have had my cat, I often find hairballs at least once or twice a week.  I have never actually witnessed him doing it, however.  No longer.  Now that I’m home during the day, I got to see it first hand.  It’s pretty impressive.  One second – nothing there.  Next second – giant sticky, smelly mess on the floor.  Like magic.  Like it came through a wormhole.  Wow.

3.  I have the ability to waste an enormous amount of time on Facebook.  Thank you, my friends, for being  endlessly fascinating.

4.  Daytime TV is depressing.  I’m sorry Rachel Ray, but I find you kind of grating.  And don’t even get me started on Oprah or Dr. Phil.  I’d rather gouge out my eye with a rusty spike.

5.  When I don’t know what to do, or I am avoiding doing what I should be doing, I clean.  My apartment is going to be fucking spotless within the week.

6.  If I don’t get out of my apartment regularly, I’m going to gain 20 pounds in a matter of days.  Food is my elixir for boredom and stress.  And the yogurt place across the street is constantly calling my name.

Still trying to sort this new reality out, but I’m definitely in it.

I Had a Dream

(originally posted on on 8/30/10)

I had a dream last night…

Okay, let me interrupt myself.  I don’t often like to share my nightly dreams as I know that it can be excruciatingly boring for the listener, but I promise this one time it is relevant.

I had a dream last night that I got an 11th hour reprieve on my lay off, and was expected to report to work today.  In my dream I was devastated.  I did not want to go back there.  Lucky for me, I woke up shortly thereafter and realized with a sigh of relief that I would not be driving to Burbank this morning, and that I am, in fact, still unemployed.

Which leads me to today’s biggest order of business:  filing for unemployment.

I received the above tome as part of my “separation packet” from my (now former) employer.  I must say, it’s a little daunting.  I’ve never applied for unemployment insurance before, and if the stories from friends who have are true, what I have to look forward to are endless hours on hold, lenghty waiting periods, interviews that could go awry, and the possibility of a dispiriting appearance in Appeals Court.

Good times.

As I sit here in my pjs, I wonder just how many others are sitting in their pjs doing just as I am doing this morning.  If the statistics are true, today in the state of California it’s approximately 4400 people.    That’s an alarming number.

I think before I endeavor to delve into this mass of confusing paperwork, I should head to the gym.  I believe it’s going to be important to me to keep up my daily routine as much as possible, so I’ll attempt to make sense of all of this at the more reasonable hour of say, 9:30am.  I’ll let you know how it goes.