October 22, 2001
(or: "How I Spent My
Temporary Voluntary Unemployment")
It hasn't exactly been a
Most vacations, at least as
I understand the concept of 'vacation,' are supposed to be restful
and fun and relatively anxiety-free. And while the past twenty days
have certainly been restful -- sleeping in until 6:15 a.m., long lazy
mornings in front of the computer, long drooling naps in the afternoon
-- and while there have been a fair share of *fun* moments along the
way -- bike rides, dinner with David's parents, naughty i.m.
conversations in the middle of the day -- I would hardly go so far as
to describe the past three weeks as 'anxiety-free.' I've been
positively filled with anxiety at every turn, about everything from
hormonal acne to the safety of airline travel ... from salary
requirements to 'Survivor Africa' (I hate everybody
so far! there isn't anybody that I'm even remotely
interested in, this time!!) ... from broken molars to our temporarily
iffy financial future.
While I waited to hear back
from the architecture company, I was filled with anxiety about my
'performance' during the interview. Should I have told them the tuna
label story? Or did that just make me sound like a big dumb doofus?
After they turned me down, I was filled with anxiety about my ability
to find a decent job before we ran out of life savings. (Or groceries.)
While I was considering the job
offer from JoAnne's company, I was filled with anxiety about them not
being able to meet my 'asking price.' Once they met it, I was filled
with anxiety about the inconvenient commute (and how it will impact our
While I've been writing lengthy
morning e-mails to Daughter #1-A, every day, I've been filled with
anxiety about Daughter #1-B, who has suddenly and inexplicably gone
AWOL once again and refuses to contact anyone in the family, me
included (or perhaps me especially: I don't know
And then of course there's the
global anxiety we're all feeling as soon as we wake up in the morning
and turn on the TV. I wake up from a nightful of Overflowing Toilet
Dreams -- or Car-Going-Over-The-Cliff-In-Slow Motion Dreams, or
Teeth-Falling-Out-In-Your-Hand Dreams -- and the reality turns out to
be worse than the nightmare.
Still, I believe I've
managed to deal with it pretty well. I didn't stay in bed all day with the covers
pulled over my head. I didn't systematically empty the contents of the
refrigerator. I didn't allow my anxiety to manifest itself in cuticle
destruction or marathon daytime TV-viewing. (And I didn't walk down to
the corner and buy a sneaky bottle of wine while David was at work. I
thought about it. I thought about it more than once, as a matter of
fact. But thinking about it and doing it, fortunately, are two very
Mostly I just tried to stay
busy, and to look for ways to use my time and my creative energies, and
to remind myself periodically that leaving The Totem Pole Company was my
idea, and that it was a good, smart, possibly sanity-saving decision,
and that things will be OK in the long run. This is not the first time
I've been unemployed. It almost certainly won't be the last.
And I did manage to tackle a
handful of trivial (yet amazingly rewarding) personal/household tasks
that might have gone untackled, had I not suddenly found myself with
three weeks' worth of pseudo-vacation, smack-dab in the middle of a
glorious Alameda autumn.
- I updated my
- I taught myself how to burn a
- I finally managed to read an
entire book ("From The Corner of His Eye"), hopefully breaking this
weird crippling *readers block* I've been experiencing the past few
- I updated my Other Journals
- I also updated my personal bio,
although it's not ready for public consumption just yet. (I'm seriously
hating 1997 Secra right now. I'm finding it difficult to make her sound at all
- I ordered our Christmas cards
from Club Photo.
- I rearranged the kitchen
- I squeezed into my first pair
of Spandex riding pants ... and nothing exploded.
- I cooked. A LOT. Last night it
was roast chicken stuffed with rice and garlic. Tonight it will be
leftover roast chicken stuffed with rice and garlic. (And tomorrow
night ... and the night after that ... and the night after that.)
- I colored my hair.
- I ordered airline tickets for
Jaymi's visit next month.
- I tracked down an old friend
from high school and wrote him an e-mail, asking him if he still
believes in God. ("I'm asking you because you were the
smartest Christian I ever knew," I wrote, "and
because you seem like the right person to ask, and because I believe
that you're going to give me an answer that I can understand and think
about and live with.")
- I read a newspaper every single
- I watched the news every single
- I took a walk every single day,
even if it was just around the corner to the Post Office.
- I listened to the Italian For
Dummies tapes. ("Quanto vengono le albicocche?")
- I had lunch with Bev.
- I downloaded and installed the
fabulous free Call
Wave software on our computer. (Thank you thank you
thank you, Lilu!)
Now we can ignore our incoming calls even when we're lollygagging on
- I bonded with the maintenance
guy as he paymented our dorm.
- I learned to locate Afghanistan
on the map.
- I weeded through the closets
and gave all my *fat clothes* to the thrift store.
Plus I kept the apartment
clean, I got 99% caught up on my e-mail AND I landed a decent job,
which starts day after tomorrow. So it hasn't been a complete waste of
Still -- the more I reflect on
all of the anxiety I've felt this month, and how draining it's been,
both emotionally and physically -- the more I realize that the past
twenty days have been the real 'work.'
It's being employed
again that will feel like a 'vacation.'