So What’s the Answer? Thoughts after a Year of Being a Statistic

Lordy, what a surreal year. I packed up my desk in a cardboard box nearly 365 days ago and started my little adventure as a statistic. That just doesn’t seem possible.

It feels very strange to read all those stories about long-term unemployment and to know that all those stories are about you. Everyone has an opinion about what to do about “the jobs crisis,” and they feel free to share it with you. Answering the question, “What do you do?” takes some creativity, if you want to avoid the looks of pity (and sometimes scorn). Not to mention the well-meaning job search tips.

You need ready cocktail party conversation topics to head off discussion about your ongoing situation with your friends. How many ways are there to say that things are still the same? Nope. Still unemployed. No jobs out there. I still don’t know what I’m ultimately going to do about it. I am still on Unemployment, but it’s not going to last forever. Freelancing is slow, but I like it and would like to keep doing it if I can. I like not working in an office. Still not feeling all that bad about my situation and still enjoying having time to find myself. I may as well enjoy myself, because I’m fucked either way, right?

How do you respond to all those people who tell you to stay positive? Really? How is losing one’s job in the “worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,” brought on by corporate greed and insanity, something to be positive about? Woo hoo! I’m unemployed! I have no real hope of getting a new job! Get out the champagne! You keep saying that things are turning around, but what’s your proof? While we all have to play with the hand we’re dealt, you have to admit that I have shitty cards right now, no? Asswipe.

That one’s not so hard (I take wicked pleasure in it . . . sometimes), but what do you say to Barbara Ehrenreich, who in Bright-Sided hands it to you straight? Positive thinking is delusional thinking, she says, and it blames the victim for the job loss. Thinking positively gives the illusion of control over things you don’t control. It can be a comforting illusion, though, to think that you can take lemons and make a tasty beverage. Here’s the thing, Barbara. I am mad as hell, and I know exactly what got me here. I don’t for a minute believe that this was done to me for my benefit. I vote, I protest, I speak out. But I also still have to live with myself every single day. And I don’t want to live with a bitter person. I didn’t ask for this, but I’ll be damned if I don’t use the time to my advantage and find something to be happy about.

The above is just what to say in conversation. It doesn’t answer the question of what you’re going to do with your bad self every day. The proverb is a wise one. Be careful what you wish for. Having all the time in the world is dangerous. When it comes down to it, there isn’t a real reason to get out of bed. Or shower. Or do anything besides watch TV online and drink all the time. You don’t have any money. You can’t really afford to go out, but staying in all the time makes you a little bit weird. Your friends have jobs, well, most of your friends, anyway, so they aren’t around during the day. Your house is clean. Too clean. Or, it might be a disaster, and you can’t bring yourself to touch it. Dating’s difficult, as who wants to date someone with no money and no prospects? Not to mention someone wearing old clothes and the dregs of once-good makeup and hair products. Sexy.

The truth is that unemployed life can really suck ass. I don’t like being broke. I don’t like thinking about the future. In spite of everything, though, I can’t say that this has been all bad. Some of it has been really fucking great. I’ve given in to TV and wine more times than I care to admit, but I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about how to answer this question:

How do I live a good life, anyway?

I don’t know yet, but it’s been interesting trying to figure it out. I thought I’d resurrect this bloggy thing and write a few posts about what I’ve done with my surreal year. We’ll see what happens.

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This isn’t a good idea, but I’m doing it anyway. The name’s Sara. Sara Scott. I kept this thing anonymous because . . . well, I drink, smoke sometimes, use the word “fuck” liberally, and hold socialist views. I didn’t think it wise to let the whole world know. Also, I found the idea of writing in public terrifying, so I figured if it wasn’t really me doing it, I’d feel more comfortable about things. It worked for me for a while, but now hiding behind my Big Wheel just feels cowardly. So, there you have it. My name is Sara Scott, and I occasionally do bad things and say bad words. So sue me. You won’t get much.

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4 responses to “So What’s the Answer? Thoughts after a Year of Being a Statistic

  1. Oh I hope you are back for a while Sassy…I think I’ll continue you to call you Sassy….is that okay?

    hope so…

  2. It’s nice to meet you, Sara.

    And this is an excellent post, really spells out this whole unemployed nonsense with guts. I won’t offer a happy platitude here.

  3. Hey, Sassy. Hang in there. If a fat, ugly old bastard like me can come out of two years of hell (jobless and at times homeless and borderline alcoholic), then there’s hope for you yet.

  4. I hope I’m back too, Manuel. By all means, continue to call me Sassy.

    Hey, Robyn! Thanks.

    Believe it or not, Dive, I am managing. In some ways, I’m even doing better than ever. It’s just surreal is all. Good to hear from you!

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