And so it begins

I am unemployed. The company I worked for lost the contract, and I have not yet been able to secure a new position. There have been some “almosts” and there are a couple “maybes” still in play, but the quest for a new job continues. Things are pretty slow out there in my area of work. There are a lot fewer jobs than previous job hunting rounds.

So Friday I went in to finish clearing off my desk, sign and initial the paperwork, and turn in my badges and parking pass. I walked out to my car, connected my iPod filled with Christmas music, and burst into tears. It was a moist and pathetic drive home.

When I finished college, it took six months after graduation to convince someone to hire me. Since that time – just a smidge over 15 years – I have not been unemployed. I’ve changed jobs, companies I’ve worked for have lost the contract I was working on, and I was even laid off once before but I had a new job ready to go before the old one ended, but this is the first time I’ve actually been unemployed. It is odd and slightly disorienting. Here it is a Monday, a normal work day, and I’m not on vacation or sick or waiting out a hurricane, but I’m home. Updating my blog. Trying to apply for unemployment.

Ugh. Unemployment. Because I’ve worked in two different states over the past 18 months, I have to apply by phone rather than online. The last thing I want to do is talk to someone on the phone. (I mean, that applies at all times, but especially for this.) But alas, I must. It turns out that Monday morning is a terrible time to apply for unemployment. I know, I should have seen it coming. People get laid off at the end of a week and apply for unemployment on a Monday. Duh. It took a couple tries just to actually get in the queue (“I’m sorry, all circuits are busy. Please hang up and try your call later.”), but I finally connected and weaved my way through the “press one for…” maze and was on hold in the right queue. And I waited and waited and waited. Do you know what the Maryland unemployment office has for it’s hold music? A very basic MIDI file (a MIDI file!) that plays the same 12 or so measures of Für Elise over and over and over again. It’s an interesting choice. It chases away the weak while letting the waiting masses know what to expect once their call is finally answered. I still don’t know what awaits. I gave up. I’ll try again this afternoon, and if that fails again, tomorrow. Hopefully the herds of the unemployed with have thinned by then.

So now I find myself with time. Job hunting itself takes between 5 and 30 minutes a day (unless I get lucky and score an interview). Aside from that, I am free. Stressed out and depressed, but free. Luckily, I live in Washington, DC, land of free things to do. Monuments! Memorials! Museums! I’ve never been to any of them on a weekday. I’m actually looking forward to hitting up some of the Smithsonian museums during normal business hours when hopefully there will be few people. I think I’ll go check out arguments before the the Supreme Court, too. And I know this is kind of scandalous, but I have yet to actually visit the Library of Congress. (I know! What sort of DC resident am I?!)

A friend called her period of unemployment “funemployment”. I found it humorous and delightful when she used it, even though she used it a bit sarcastically. Now, however, I cringe in horror and distress and cannot use the word in application to my life, even with snark or irony. And yet I do want to take advantage of this time where my awesome technical writing skills are unloved and unappreciated to enjoy some of the touristy stuff that I never get around to seeing – to have fun. I really do enjoy a good museum.


  1. christine

    I hope you can find a little fun in all this. Enjoy the museums and writing. Prayers for a new and great job for you quickly. Hugs!

  2. I went through this once; 6 months of it. You’re right – it’s stressful BUT you can get through it. Just do what you did when working; lay out a daily plan. Tackle the house projects you’ve been putting off. Get a library card. Try a new exercise routine. I would get up every day, work out, get online, look for and apply for jobs (in the end, I was applying to things I knew I probably didn’t want, just for the potential interview experience), go to the library, get a new book, come home and do a house project. In six months, I had my floors redone and my entire place painted. You can and you will get through it, but to counteract the stress and anxiety, lay out a plan for yourself. It helps, I promise. Even if you’re not a type A…. good luck and keep your chin up.

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