Friday, March 26, 2010

Being Jobless Has Changed My Sense of Time

Tick, tock! Tick, tock!
Forty ’leven by the clock.
Tick, tock! Tick, tock!
Leroy F. Jackson

I have now been unemployed for two weeks. The job search began in earnest the day after I was informed my services were no longer needed at the paper. At my age I figure there is no sense being leisurely about this. Thanks to all who have e-mailed and called to wish me luck. I am optimistic that this jobless situation will be temporary. Compared to many folks out there seeking work, I feel fortunate because I do have some concrete prospects.

Not having to get up to go work has changed my sense of time, which has been an interesting phenomenon. I figure it is a dry run for retirement, which keeps getting pushed further into the future. Not that I mind. If this is what retirement is going to be like, I best put it off until I’m too feeble to work, and nobody will hire me.

Now I get up when I want. That means I still get up about 6:15 and walk three miles. Then I drink coffee and read the paper. They’re still throwing the paper I used to publish. Nothing personal, but I’m not paying for it anymore. I’ll just read it online when it quits bouncing off the front door. Then I check e-mails, of which there are a fair number since starting up this site, for which I am grateful. It is great to hear from readers, so I don’t feel that I’m just talking to myself out there. It’s bad enough that I talk to myself here at home, in real life.

Somebody has e-mailed me an article to read, about picking the right university in which to teach, or how a university can pick the right person to teach there. I get engrossed in the piece and the ensuing comments, since academia is one avenue I may pursue. I finish reading and wander out to the woodshop to look at the legs of the desk I glued together last week. I take the clamps off, and check the sturdiness. Next step is building the cross braces, but I am still pondering how I want this to look. Likely this will be the final project in this shop, and maybe the last project for quite some time. I will probably downsize for a good while until I feel more secure, job-wise, wherever I end up, and not buy another house. So the shop will go into storage somewhere, maybe for years. Hard to tell right now.

Next I run the usual online journalism job site traps. Nothing looks promising today. No surprise there. I looked last night before I went to bed. I have filed for unemployment online and am obligated to conduct five searches weekly, starting next week, to get the check. I have mixed feelings about taking the money, but I plan to do so. My aged friend says I have gone on relief, as they called it during Roosevelt’s day.

I glance up at the clock on the computer. Somehow it is already 10:30 a.m. In a past life — and surely soon a future one — I would have been at work two-and-a-half hours. I take a quick shower and go pick up Mom for lunch at Cotton Patch. We both get the special to save money.

After lunch with Mom, who enjoys the outing though she keeps asking me why I am not at the paper and what is going to happen, I go to the post office and get the mail. There are about five envelopes from the Texas Workforce Commission, more stuff to fill out.

I decide to mow the lawn for the first time this year. This takes a while, because the harsh (for East Texas) winter left a lot of dead grass. The weeds went wild in the few warm days, even through that crazy snow last Sunday. Yard care takes two hours. After that, I am ready for a nap, a quick 30 minutes on the napping sofa — which I built a few years back expressly for that purpose. The desk I am working on, made from black walnut, will be the fourth and final piece of mission-style furniture to round out the suite.

Already, it is 5 o’clock. I should be getting off work about now, taking a quick nap and then getting to work again in front of the computer. And that is what I do, except I already have the nap marked off the list. I look back on what I accomplished, and it doesn’t seem like so much, though it felt as if I were busy the entire day.

Maybe that is what retirement is like for people like me who have a hard time sitting still — feeling busy but not that sure exactly what you got done when you look back at day’s end. If so, I’m in no hurry to retire. Not that I can afford to, anyway.

The job search continues.

1 comment:

  1. I was unemployed for two weeks before I started working at the theatre department at UT--the only time I'd ever gone without a job since I turned 15. I did everything I could think of to fill the days, including visiting every single museum in Austin. I went crazy. I guess I get that from you.

    Not much longer now, Dad. Luckily in the meantime, you still have your website, books, woodworking, photography, yard work, house work and exercising to keep you busy. I think you'll make it.