Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Winter of Discontent

Now is the winter of my discontent.

It has been 90 days since I last worked. I had planned to be productive during these days of unemployment: organize my Pez dispensers; build a website dedicated to Mary Kate & Ashley; categorize my collection of Happy Meal toys by cultural significance (Lion King toys should have front shelf status as it ushered the golden age of Disney even if Finding Nemo had a bigger box office).

Without my old adversary the alarm clock, I find it harder and harder to get out of bed, to emerge from my dreams of going camping with Nick Lachey and Brian Urlacher, pitching the trouser tent and fishing for zipper trout.

The cheerful anchors on WGN news used to bid me good morning. Now I wake to the No Man’s Land of TV: Regis & Kelly, Divorce Court, Judge Hatchett. I move to turn it off, but the screaming, the blaming, the backstabbing reminds me of my old work environment. I leave it on. It is comforting.

I go online to the job boards, browsing jobs I am qualified for but will never get: indifferent HR employees buried under mountains of resumes are on the other side of my click. I decide to save a few trees by not applying for anything; I will have to bear the guilt of the single sheet needed to print my unemployment check.

I thought that I would now be able to catch up on all the trashy romance novels in the communal library in our building laundry room, where we swap romance novels like swingers at a party. But when the question comes to decide between a Silhouette Romance or porn, porn always seems to win out. Romancing myself is easy—no awkward moments, no polite chit-chat. Just a quick encounter—no deep feelings, just a few drops of tears at the end. Nothing a little Kleenex won’t fix.

My life has taken the path of least resistance. I stay in my pajamas. I let my beard grow out. I eschew grooming. Unemployment has accomplished what my priest and my shock therapist couldn’t—make me a straight man.

Two more months of winter. Hopefully in the spring things will be different, a job maybe. In the spring, hopefully I re-emerge from this sloth, this lethargy, back to my old self.

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