Monday, March 16, 2009

Unemployed blues

It's been eight months now since I was laid off from the job I held for ten years, and although I landed two freelance editorial gigs since then, they have both dried up, so now I'm back to the empty days.

I had been working almost steadily since the age of 17--I'm older than that now--when I graduated from New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., and got an assembly line job at a women's clothing factory in Manhattan for the summer. In the fall, I enrolled in evening classes at Baruch College, then a unit of the City College of New York, and found daytime employment as an office boy. My title was General Factotum, “a person with many duties, a handyman, a jack-of-all-trades” as the dictionary notes, for $45 a week. That's about $325 in today's terms, or just under $17,000 a year. (It would be virtually impossible to live on that today, especially in Manhattan, given the insanity of rents here--when will the current housing price "decline" significantly lower rents in this burg? At the time, however, it was manageable, because I was still living with my parents. And the City in those days had an excellent system of rent control, which allowed people earning as little as I did the opportunity to get a decent apartment.) Anyway, job followed job, almost consistently, through college and graduate school, through marriage and two kids, through recessions as well as booms.

So having no job to go to, or even to telecommute to from home, leaves me with a strange feeling, almost as if I am floating. "Unmoored" may be a better word. To be sure, each morning I dutifully check the appropriate job,,, etc.--pretending that some company somewhere in our ever-deepening economic abyss is looking for someone with just my skills. And that they'd want me to do freelance, or maybe part time work. Fantasyland.

I keep asking myself what to do now? Go to the new supermarket again, browse the Barnes and Noble or Strand bookstores again, meander for the umpteenth time through the city streets? A few days ago I read an article in the New York Times about newly unemployed people getting in touch with their inner entrepreneurs and creating their own businesses online. Sounds great, except my technological skills are so lacking I have absolutely no idea what to do. (It took me months, for example, to create this blog; and then I could not figure out how to add another post, until some "blog doctor" instructed me.) And my previous two experiences, many years ago, trying to establish my own businesses--one developing a new line of fashion-oriented greeting cards, the second setting myself up as an editorial/research consultant--went belly-up very quickly. I'm not exactly the entrepreneurial type.

Writing, of course, helps to ground me. Hence this blog entry. Okay, enough for now.

1 comment:

ArthurZ said...

Yes...I know exactly what you mean.