Adventures in Semi-Employment

Guys! Guess what?!

I got a new job!

Tomorrow I start work at another local health department doing… pretty much exactly what I did in my last job, so that makes me happy. It’s only a part-time gig, 20-30 hours a week tops and no benefits, but it is a step in the right direction and at the very very least, gets me out of my house. At the most, it may lead to a full time position with this organization. Regardless, it allows me to learn more, do something I am passionate about (and getting good at), and connect with more people in public health emergency preparedness. So woo!-and-a-half for that, friends.

Let’s look back on how I spent my weeks (months? dear god) of unemployment. Granted, being only part time I will still have a bit of extra time on my hands, but not quite the complete free-wheelin’ schedule– or lack thereof– I have been keeping.

The goals I set three months ago were:

1. Make homemade yogurt.
2. Homemade bread.
Yeah, I never did those things. But I did make tomato soup and gnocchi from scratch, tried a few new recipes, and learned to get super creative when I didn’t want to let food go to waste/spend more money at the grocery store.

3. Crochet slippers.
Too hard. I thrive on constructing things that are flat. So I made a bunch of scarves instead of slippers.

4. Open Courseware.
I have no witty, creative way to say, “I never took a free class online in the last 90+ days I was unemployed.” It’s cool, call the Lazy Police. Whatever.

5. Design and order Christmas cards.
Done! And they were perfect.

6. Paintings.
Did a few, sold one, renewed some on Etsy. In front of an easel, with colors on the palette, making a flat canvas come alive with color and texture– that is a place of happiness.

7. Free museums.
I went once, to the Walker. When friends were visiting. So, it sort of counts. I am counting it. Also, turns out, it is still one of my very most favorite places anywhere. It is magical, wonderful, whimsical. Strange and home, all at the same time. I was honored to bring friends there.

8. Actually sleep 7-10 hours per night.
Well, overall I may have averaged 7-10 per night. Unfortunately, it probably looked more like: 4 hrs, 2 hrs, 10 hrs, 8 hrs, 3 hrs, 3 hrs, 12 hrs…. you get the idea. Some days, I was so overcome with anxiety that I couldn’t relax at all and found myself awake at 3AM applying for jobs. Then the next day, I would be so wiped out I would either sleep all day or sleep way late the following morning. What a mess.

9. Volunteer.
Fail. Fail on my part and fail on the part of the State of Minnesota. At my first unemployment class, they told us not to volunteer “too many hours” because it could affect your ability to collect benefits, but would not disclose what the state considered “too many hours.” It totally sucked the wind out of my sails on helping my community.

10. Get a library card.
Instead, I am slowly harvesting books out of every single one of my friends’ and family members’ libraries. Who needs a library when you’ve got super-reader friends?

I will get a library card.

In addition to some of the bigger things I want to do, I am also trying to take this opportunity to start some good habits. So there is a list of things to do every day.

1. Make the bed.
This was ambitious. Should have read, “get out of bed.”

2. Do all the dishes.
Never happened. Never will. The most loathesome task on the planet.

3. Spend no less than 90 minutes doing something that contributes to securing employment.
Hardly ever spend less than 90 minutes looking for work. In fact, spent at least 3-6 hours a day either looking for work, writing emails to former employers or classmates, rewriting resumes, on and on and on.

4. One-woman dance party.
What’s better than grooving any way you want, to any music you want? Nothing. Dance parties helped me celebrate the good days and survive the awful ones.

5. Spend no less than 20 minutes contributing to the organization and cleanliness of the house. Sweep, dust, rearrange, whatever.

I hate to clean. If I am ever rich enough, the one indulgence I will allow myself that some might think pretentious is to have a cleaning person come in one a week or every two weeks.

6. Go outside.
The funny thing is, of all the feel-good things I did while unemployed– reading, exercising, blogging, hanging out with friends– a quick walk outside always seemed to best help me refocus and relax. Thank goodness for stores within walking distance to get my mind of the unpleasantries of unemployment.

Unemployment: It’s been real. It’s been fun. But it hasn’t been real fun. So thrilled and thankful to be going back to contributing to society tomorrow. It doesn’t end my need to find something permanent and full-time, but it can reduce the terror I was feeling a bit. Amen for that.


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