Monday, November 9, 2009

Unemployment: The Mental Health Professional's Wet Dream

This whole unemployment gig is much like the dating scene, I whine everyday about wanting someone to call me back. Sometimes I don't even like the job, I just want them to like me. Sounds pitiful but come to my world and you will quickly realize the full potential of your insecurities. Looking for a job and looking for love are very much the same. Not only are you presenting your best self to the world, but you are Sofa King scared you won't find it.

Unemployment should be a medical condition. Trust me. It's not the inconvenience of not having a job that's killing me, although that is in fact what brought me to this particular mecca of hell. It's the combination of bad situations blending together to make this one giant smoothie of a mental health professional's wet dream.

Bad Situation #1: I Miss My Job (not the Horrid Company)

I actually enjoy what I do. Love it, in fact. So, waking up every single day not being able to do what I love is a slap in the face in and of itself. I *love* my customers. I *love* the smell of freshly ground coffee, the sound of the timers chirping letting me know it's time for a dining room check up or a new batch of coffee, the smiles of the babies and children we get to watch grow older in front of our eyes, the inventory and the finances telling me that I am doing a bang up job... I just *love* my job. So my joy in life has been stripped from me, now what?

Bad Situation #2: Communication with the Outside World

When I lost my job, my mom knew I had gone and lost my mind. I cried to her over the phone about not wanting to leave my customers, about loving the cafe so much that even though I deeply wanted to make the company suffer and figure out the inventory themselves, I couldn't do that to my cafe. Also, I don't know what revenge looks like, I've always chosen to forgive, no matter the crime. I couldn't just let the cafe fall apart because of me. I just couldn't. Mom told me I needed to come home. I needed to get out of the toxic situation that I was in. She said she would gladly help me with bills and that was that. So I got up on that Sunday, September 27th and I did the damn inventory with the new supervisor, I did it gritting my teeth, but I did it. Two days later, I was driving my truck with my car on a dolly back to freezing cold Small Town, Michigan. At the time, I had what we all thought was an offer from a great coffee company to become their next Store Manager. The move would be temporary and I would have a job in no time. I was actually optimistic for the first time in a long time. I would not lose my sanity living with my mother because it was only going to be for a couple of weeks, then on to Chicago. Right? Needless to say, the offer disappeared. I have been here for over a month now and my sanity slowly slips away each and every day. This city is one I grew up in but I went to a private school about 15-20 minutes from here. My friends have all gone off to college or have traveled across the US just like I had. So that leaves me with no communication with the outside world except for phone calls to friends who are actually living their lives rather than wasting away in a town with no jobs to procure and not a whole lot of friendly people.

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of this town. The words "I HATE this place." have been uttered across my lips more times than I can count. And unfortunately, hate is the correct word. The people are mostly stuck up and judgmental, caught up in ridiculous racial and status issues of years and years gone by and are, for the most part, rude and unfriendly. Not an ideal place for someone who has lived in cities where people are gracious and friendly and accepting and open minded. (And I don't mean Democratic, I mean truly open minded.) Communicating over the phone and through Facebook are wonderful things, but sometimes you just want a hug. Sometimes you just want to see the same funny as someone else, give them a look and laugh! Living in a friendless town is one thing, but living unemployed in a friendless town is worse.

There is *no* communication with real, alive, non-digital people except for nervous interviews, grocery stores, and gas stations. Everywhere else is a luxury and if you're like me, if you're there, someone else is paying. So instead of enjoying the time out of the house, you are dwelling on the fact that you can't pay for it yourself. Sure, there is a time to be humble and to put your insecurities away, but stripping away the basic needs for a person to be healthy and then expecting them to humble themselves even more is sort of a ridiculous request.

Bad Situation #3: The Long Distance Relationship

Enough said? Probably. But I'll go deeper. I'm not the most trusting person. For obvious reasons, but honestly, I don't trust most people. So the long distance relationship for me is harder than for most other people. My insecurity runs through my veins about as thick as the very blood keeping me alive. I'm grown up enough to admit that. So God bless my boyfriend for being so patient with me. Granted, he's a dude and does stupid things. And I'm a girl with over emotional Pisces tendencies. Combine this with Bad Situations #1 and #2 plus loss of everything else and the poor guy is battling quite the case of female blues in order to get this lady to smile. He manages. On a daily basis.

But on the days we fight or disagree or just plain don't communicate with each other, I'm a basket case. When you're standing on the intersection of Nothing and Everything to Lose, and you begin to lose... again... I'm not sure I can explain the chemical imbalance that occurs to make you cry more tears than you thought the human body could expel. I can't explain the mental or physical pain, at least not more than to say if I was working, it would be a sick day. On these wonderfully special days, I literally can't see straight. The world is a blur to me. I will remember nothing you tell me. I will not be able to recount what I did. I will walk slower and be lost in thought when you try and converse with me. I will cry at the dumbest and most inane events. Forgot the paper towel to clean the bathroom mirror? 5 minute sob. Dog dreaming loudly on the floor? A smile, and then a tear. Coffee creamer empty before the last cup? Raging cry.

I often thank God that there aren't video cameras around to record this insanity. Because on these fantastic days, my emotions are so close to the surface, anything can set them off, I look very similar to a person who should be medicated and straight jacketed. If not for the safety of myself, for the safety of that gorgeous lamp.

Sometimes I pace thinking I can outrun the pain, and then when I sit the pain floods me and I do what Oprah calls the "ugly cry". Where your face bunches up and immediately turns red. Your tears aren't even tears so much as an emotional catastrophe leaking from your eyes and nose. It's so nasty too, you'll wipe your nose on anything. Because really, at this point, are you leaving the house? Definitely not. And using your sleeve is easier than walking hunched over in pain to the bathroom for a tissue that will only fall apart. You already tried that and ended up using your sleeve anyway. When doing the ugly cry, do not, I repeat, do not, look in that mirror. The feeling of being pathetic and looking so, will only make you cry harder. Plus, you don't want to see what your sleeve looks like. Eventually you're going to snap out of it and you'll have to wash that shirt. You'll never look at it the same again if you remember it this way. When you have finally taken the plunge and let yourself accept an emotion that you have been warding off like a thief, you can't stop the thing. You'll stop crying when you have nothing left to cry about. When you've run through your head all of the things worthy of a tear. Then you'll get the hiccups, which just furthers my belief in God's sense of humor.

(And just so we're clear... we weren't fighting about musical taste and fast food preferences. Taco Bell will never make me cry.)

Bad Situation #4: It's Not That I Want to Eat Everything in Sight....

When I arrived with my overstuffed Uhaul complete with furry brood, dragging Peanut along on the trailer, my thighs were kissing. Smooching if you will. Now? They're fucking in love. I mean, infatuation station down there. Makin' out! Of course it's my fault but you know, Grilled Chicken Salad doesn't have the same calming effect as say... Fully Loaded Nachos? To say that I eat my feelings is to say that I have a small crush on fast food to go cup buttons, complete understatements. When I'm depressed and want nothing to do with positive thinking mumbo jumbo blahblahblah, I eat. A lot. Some people drink good wine (or boxed, whatever), some people smoke (I used to!), and others just say fuck it and jump. The good thing about eating is that eventually my jeans will write a letter and be like "Hi, we know you're going through a rough time since we've been on your floor for a week and you've been wearing those ugly ass pajama pants. You know, the ones with the stripes that make your ass look big? Yes, those. Buuh. Well, we were just wondering if, before you try to pry us up your thighs again, you could maybe do like, a sit up or something? We're your stretch jeans not your fishnets and while those are also not one size fits all, they will allow for movement. Love ya, Denim" and I'll go for a walk. (And YES, my jeans are gay boys. Who compliments your ass more than your gay boyfriend? Hello. Miss my Oliver...)

No letter yet, so eat I shall. Cheese, ice cream, chocolate, chips, cheetos, comfort. While I'm unhappy about the relationship status of my thighs, my job situation screams Half Baked Ben & Jerry's. I've been trying to ward this off by drinking coffee until 4 pm. The problem is, then I'm starving and all I want is a chocolate shake and a stick of butter. So, clearly that strategy is not a working one. Eating is on the healthier side of the "things to do instead of crying and talking about your problems" because weight can be lost. You can't just run off an infected liver or a black lung. Fat rolls? They love a good jog. Cellulite too. So, judge me if you will, but I'm feeling pretty darn good about this.

Bad Situation #5: Hope Does What?

Listen, I like romantic comedies and chick flicks as much as the next girl, but we all know it's bullshit. Really. Since when did your dead beat ex-boyfriend become rich because he discovered he had a talent and actually pursued a dream? And when were you ever standing in the aisle choosing between said ex-boyfriend and Mr. Took You To Tiffany's To Choose Your "Skating Rink"? Come the fuck on. And friendly neighbor guy? Where the hell's HE at? Hope Floats, my ass. I'm not trying to be negative here, it's good writing, warm and fuzzy like a grandma's hug, but seriously... Hope doesn't float. Hope gets her ass kicked. Hope looks over her shoulder for the next tragedy. Hope is realistic. Unlike Faith, little miss everything is going to be ok. Hope knows that despite all of the bad situations, there might me a silver living or a lesson to be learned. But there might not. Hope does not equal Happy. Hope knows she might not be employed. Hope knows that she is just a want, and we don't get everything that we want. What's really sick is that sometimes we don't even want what we want. Because once we get it, it's not what we thought it was. Poor Hope. She's just not for me. Too much uncertainty lies in her bones. I need sure things. Solid things. A job. Not a floatie.

Bad Situation #6: The Inevitable

Unemployment is just a fancy way to say that you are no longer rubbing pennies together, because "Haha! Sucker! You don't have any!" It's an indescribable feeling of doom when you've Coinstarred your purse and you've delegated your car payment to someone else, and your ATM just exclaimed "You're broke darlin'!" I don't want to talk about this much. I'm unemployed, I obviously don't have money, and everyone needs money. I really could be worse off. I could be houseless which is not the same as homeless, and I am technically homeless. I could be deathly ill, but I'm just mental not dying. At any rate, gig's up. I need a job. I need money. And if not just for me, for my mom. Additionally, beyond bills, I have plans. One of my best friends is getting married in Oregon. Guess who's in the wedding and making her cake? Guess who can't wait? Also on the list: Christmas, moving, and paying off debt. Plus, I'm sure my mom would much rather be spending her expendable income on something other than Peanut. I mean, even I want to be spending my money on something other than stupid Peanut, but... all hail the necessary evils or something like that. Anyway, the point, the inevitable, I believe my time of Green & Black has risen again. I agree with my friend C when she said about me "You'd rather be serving G&B coffee than none at all." Hear, hear. (But still... Fuck.)

Bad Situation #7: Pity, party of one?

Worst. Party. Ever. For one thing, the music is depressing. A person can only listen to so many unpopular sad musicians before they cease musical libation at all. Also, when you're down, you're down, sort of like learning to water ski. This party is invite only and the guest list employs one name: yours. So while you drown yourself in slow songs, eat yourself chubby, and cry about the latest disappointment... the whole world is still spinning. No one knows, no one cares. They weren't invited anyway. So even if they *did* try to come to brighten the party, they'd be D listed. Sorry. So, when I'm done here, I'll let you know.

Bad Situations or not, it's ok to laugh. I have to keep reminding myself of this. That even though I'm sad and I need things I can't have right now, it's ok to laugh. It's ok to have a good time and relax. It's ok to feel sorry for myself every once in a while too. I will allow myself this indulgence. What's not ok, what is absolutely not in my plans, is giving up. I might cry and eat and swear and get angry but I won't give up. I might sacrifice and sway from the career plan, I might work somewhere I don't want to and bitch about those things. But I won't give up.

No, for now, I'm going to steer clear of books like The Knitting Circle and reach for the funny or inspiring. I have cried more than necessary reading this book because I can identify so much with this character and how it just seems like she keeps losing things/people. I am really tired of getting snot on my new shirts though. I'd really like to blow my nose into a Kleenex again. It just seems so much more lady like and civilized, not that I will ever fully be either of those things. It's worth a shot though. So I believe I shall be hitting up the library for some Jen Lancaster or possibly reread a David Sedaris story. Or maybe I'll keep Stumbling Upon humorous things like The Bloggess and keep reading wonderful blogs like Magnolias and Mimosas and laughing my ass off at the ludicrous crafters on Regretsy. And just like that, there went ladylike and civilized.


Allyson said...

A) Thanks for the shout-out. I'm working on a 2009-Best Blogs List for next month, so I'll hit ya back.
B) When Neal got deployed, what saved me was Jen Lancaster..not Jennifer Weiner. Unfortunately, looks like we're in for a bit of a wait on that one. But Caprice Crane is a nice substitute.
C) While it looks like you have reserved your own warm room in Hell now, keep blogging because you will look back someday and laugh at the crazy that is currently ensuing. While Neal was deployed, he and the unit went in on some flowers for the commander when her sister unexpectedly died. Not knowing this, I called the phone number of the florist on the credit card bill and harassed them until they finally told me the deal. I was just SURE he was surprising some sweet thang in Mississippi with lillies or something. Although, he's usually smarter than to do something like pay for it in credit. At any rate, I did ridiculous stuff and had more ugly cries than I could count. And I drank a LOT of boxed wine and ate every Snickers, California roll and fortune cookie that I could get my hands on. The good news is...running outside is free and someday you'll want to fit back into those skinny jeans. But that is SO not right now. I wish you all the best with this. It really, really, really sucks and you're doing everything you can do to make it suck less.

kallay said...

a) Aw... thanks! :) *warm fuzzies to ya!*

b) caprice cane... never heard of! shall look into! (whenever i get my stupid library card figured out lol)

c) so i'm not insane? i'm normal? this is good news...