Thursday, August 20, 2009

So WHAT are you doing up there?

So here I am, settled in Chicago (still needing to tidy up my room, but whatever), but I don't have a job. In this capacity I am qualified to answer the question:

What do the jobless do with their days?

I remember on days when we got the day off from school, but everyone else had to go to work (Cinco de Mayo, I'm looking at you now). We students would be wandering around town, and we would be witnessing something like an alternate society or something. In Arlington it was mostly the quality of car on the street that would change, but the mall crowd would be older, more crazy, less attractive...even the TV and its ads were different. All of a sudden "personal injury attorneys" were of seemingly great importance.

Now I am in a big city, and the chances to people-watch at 10AM are MUCH better. Usually, though, my chances are limited to the afternoons. I have a system. I know from the stories of unemployed Japanese businessmen who walked to the subway in a suit every morning, so no one knows they're out of work, that routine is important.

In the spirit, I spend my mornings applying for jobs. I am trying to get a "just for now" job right at the moment, not one that will be a career. I need to get into the employment groove as soon as I can. To that end I send out 5-10 applications per day. 5 is my ABSOLUTE MINIMUM. Then I break for lunch. Since I have time that I should be used to filling, I make a real lunch. I read that handy little tip in "shopgirl." My afternoons, since this is my first week, are divided into a few areas: errands, trying to relax (I need to do this more), and researching for my career-career.

I also try to switch up where I am. In theory most of what I do can be accomplished from bed thanks to the internets, but that's pretty depressing and can slow a person down mentally, so I have a few ideas of where to go. There's a coffee place at the corner that offers internet for one hour at a time (per purchase), but it's designer "fancy" coffee where you can spend up to $7 if you want a large latte with all the fixins.

No thank you, Marco.

Then there are public libraries, which are an experience that can often times be as uplifting as a black and white Swedish movie.
The plus sides: free internet, lots of books, and far enough away that I can go into "Honey, I'm just off to the office" mode.
The minus sides: crazy hobos with questionable grooming habits, no AC (well, no one here has it, but that place can get FUNKY), it's crowded (which also means that there are the occasional girls like me, there for the same reasons as I with their MACs, and yuppie parents exposing their expensively-dressed babies to books), and being amongst the crowd there, the people who are using the computers for free, for spending the morning off the street, for just having somewhere to go...It can make you really feel like you're losing out on something...missing life as it flies by.

This picture both shows someone who would end up in the library
and adequately sums up my feelings when I am therein.

I've heard unemployment once described as someone's "Personal life FAIL," and frankly, I can see that.

It's not all doom and gloom though. I'm in a great city, meeting my application quota and sometimes exceeding it. I am sure that it is just a matter of time until I'm doing something. It feels good to be making progress every day, and I do think it's progress, even if the employers don't look at my resumes, because it's like the lottery. The more tickets you buy, the better the ods--just by the numbers--that you'll win...I suspect.

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