The Simple Pleasures of the Unemployed

Once upon a time, I lived my life believing that after I graduated from college I would immediately begin a career in publishing or editing. Then, the editor-in-chief job I thought I had lined up fell through at the last minute. Rather than starting my job hunt over immediately, I spent the day of my last final on my couch with my cats, drinking beer, crying and watching Ryan Gosling movies on Netflix. Some may call this a panic attack, but I call it what it feels like when reality sucker-punches you in the face. But, whatever, right? Now I have all of the free time in the world to do whatever I want, whenever I want. But my options are very limited, seeing as how I barely make enough money as a part-time waitress to cover my rent and car payments. I am well-known by dollar menus everywhere, and I’m also known to haggle at thrift stores (embarrassing, but true). Though I am extremely close to reaching my credit card limit thanks to gas and groceries, I am somehow still holding my life together and I believe it is because I have fully embraced the simple pleasures of being unemployed. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Taking long showers at 2 am: Back when I was a student with morning classes, there was nothing worse than having to wake up extra early to take a shower. I am notorious for taking showers that are no shorter than 20 minutes, whether or not I shave my legs. Now that I’m unemployed and classless, I can take showers whenever I want and for however long I want, and I choose to do so at 2 am, right before I’m ready to snuggle up with my pillows, cats and boyfriend and go to sleep. Recently, however, my roommate told me that if I want to take showers at 2 am, I should take them outside in the sprinklers. We’ll see how the next few weeks unfold.

2. Eating breakfast at 2 pm: I’ve never been able to eat breakfast before noon, so indulging in coffee, an English muffin and an avocado as soon as I wake up at 2 in the afternoon is absolutely wonderful. I suppose being unemployed and full is better than being employed and hungry, right? Sure, why not.

3. Watching entire seasons of shows in one sitting: Some might say that Netflix is turning my brain into mush, but I’m learning more than I ever thought I would about meth labs and high school football. Thanks to the immeasurable free time I’ve been given by the selfish gods of full-time employment, I am able to watch whatever’s on Netflix for hours and hours and hours. I started my summer binge with Friday Night Lights and spent many an episode with Matt Saracen and Tim Riggins. The three of us had seven seasons worth of fun in about a month. It was incredible. And then I got into drugs, a la Breaking Bad, a show that has simultaneously made me vomit in my mouth and yell at my TV screen. Poor Jesse. He’s so loveable (and hot), yet so, so stupid. Now, on to Parenthood!

4. Being able to go dancing on weeknights: I have recently turned into a dance-a-holic. I dance in my car when I drive (unsafe), I dance in bars full of creepy guys (unsafe) and I dance when I’m eating delicious food (just plain embarrassing). I simply can’t help it – I love to express my joy through movement. Since hangovers can’t negatively influence my mornings anymore, I can go out dancing any night I want, free of consequence…kind of. Maybe I should take up Zumba.

5. Being able to spend hours on Pinterest: is a website that my mom introduced me to. Users are able to create virtual pinboards (like bulletin boards) and “pin” things that they find online and are compelled to share with friends and strangers alike. Popular pins include DIY crafts, wedding dresses, hairstyles and adorable animals. My pinboards consist of things I’d like to have but can’t afford, like that Alexander McQueen clutch with the skull or the Jeffery Campbell platforms that all the models wear. In my opinion, it’s more satisfying than pretending to online shop because I look at pinning as a way to plan what I’ll buy when I get that real job I went to college for. My business attire is going to be INSANELY, well, insane.

6. I can still dream big, huge even: Since I’m not tied down by a career here in San Diego, I can daydream about spending the rest of my life writing novels in the mountains or becoming a local florist in a small town, or a columnist for a big-city newspaper, like Owen Wilson in Marley & Me, puppy included. I’ve recently started sketching jewelry designs even. My future is even more wide open than I thought it was when I started college. Who knew that not getting a job could be so inspirational?

7. Having the ability to communicate with friends via long Facebook letters: Phone tag sucks. It always has, it always will. But so does trying to find an adequate amount of time to respond to friends across the country, and in other countries at that. Thanks to Facebook and getting to go to “work” at 5:30 pm, I am able to lounge in my bed (no office chairs or hovering bosses for me!) while writing long, detailed messages to the people I miss dearly. It’s ridiculously heartwarming and cozy.

8. Having clean clothes all of the time: Back when I was in school, my closet would be full of clothes, none of which were clean. I’d go through all of them (and that’s saying a lot) before I ever once had time to even think about doing laundry. Laundry became such a stressful, daunting task that it would actually make me angry and because of this, newly clean clothes would never end up on hangers or in drawers. It was messy. But now, I do laundry once a week in small doses. Finally, I feel accomplished.

9. Having the option to go to the movie theater for 10 pm showings of new releases, particularly Ryan Gosling films: Because I don’t have to wake up at 6 am to get ready for work at a downtown office, I get to catch a late-night movie with my younger sister whenever I want. Our most recent movie venture was the midnight showing of Paranormal Activity 3. It’s a good thing I’m unemployed because I wasn’t able to fall asleep until it was light outside.

10. Getting to spend as much time in thrift stores as I feel like: In my opinion, it’s pointless to go to thrift stores if you don’t have time to browse every rack and every shelf full of knick-knacks. The stress of missing out on a one-of-a-kind item that I could have purchased for $2 can easily ruin my day. Now that I have a full 12 hours to spend in such charitable shops, thrifting has become a relaxing release for both my bored mind and my wallet. You should see how much leopard-print clothing I have in my closet now. And my weird mug collection has completely taken over the second shelf of my kitchen cupboard. Seriously, my life is fabulous.

  • Jacinta Wyld

    i hear ya sister. some ppl are so driven by climbing corporate ladders and making a ton of money. im so content to shop in opshops and find lovely and affordable things that aren’t in all the shops (hate being a clone). i don’t like following the ‘rules’ of what society says i should be doing.
    so cool to see someone sees things the way i do. money isnt all important and doesn’t bring happiness. i have enough to pay the bills and feed myself, thats all i need.

  • Marcela Xavier

    I’m 22 and taking a year off from life being an au pair in a foreign country, This week’s series include The Adventures of Tintin and Square Pegs. Highly recommend.

  • Ana Raquel Romão

    You know what? You just might be my new best-friend…

  • Lisa Bartasius

    i really want to quit my job now. really badly.

  • Emily Connor

    I am so jealous of you

  • Serena Sams

    i’ve got a part time job in retail (which i acquired after an entire summer of job hunting in 2009) so i half get what you’re saying. also, no one cares if you look sleepy while folding sweaters because you were up til 6 am watching movies…so i guess i get the best of both worlds. love this. thanks for putting this situation in a fabulous new light. and being the final push for me to sign up for netflix.

  • Colleen MacNeil

    This article could not have been posted at a better time for me! I am going on just over a month of being funemployed and the cabin fever was starting to sink in, watching an entire season of Weeds in one day was beginning to make me feel sad instead of excited and waking up when others were coming home from a full days work was starting to make me feel a liiiittle bad about myself. Thanks for reminding me that I get to rave until 4am on a Wednesday night and dream wildly about what my next job will be (Hot female drummer? Stylish PR girl? Rachel Zoe’s next assistant?…probably a receptionist though…)

  • Carrie Widder

    You are not alone! I am not alone! It feels so much better. With all my free time being unemployed I have started writing that book I’ve always wanted to write, a blog, and working on how to draw cat eyes with my liner (pinterest helps).

    You should try and find the NY Mag article “The Kids Are Alright.” Just read it over the weekend and it really spoke to the current situation of our generation of 20-somethings who are either unemployed or not where they thought they would be in their careers, but despite it all we have retained our optimism that we can do anything. It was awesome.

  • Kerensa Cadenas

    I recently lost my job–this made me feel better. Thanks!

  • Laurie Ann

    way too be productive girl! Rock on!

  • Alycia Lourim

    I am a hostess that only works 3 days a week because there are 2 other hostess’ and we only work nights so besides my conquest of a second job i have utterly way too much time on my hands. I wake up everyday at 11am (because i cldn’t do 12 or 1 anymore). I need at least 4 hours to veg out because I get ready for work. I get ready at 3 so I can spend a whole two hours taking forever to get ready while still browsing the web and dancing to music in the bathroom. Ive seen every season on greys anatomy at least 10 times. but i have to watch it on the daily with a cup of coffee and a toasted blueberry bagel. I also have a tumblr and spend more time on it then anyone should. My tumblr friends have become more like real life friends haha as we reminisce over harry potter. Some days I don’t leave the house because my paychecks are so itty bitty. I think I have read over half the hellogiggles website. BUT! I started my own tumblr for movie reviews and get to write whenever I want. So being “unemployed” is looking up. When I get a second job I’m going to miss waking up on my own at 11am those toasted blueberry bagels and a homemade cup of coffee with hazelnut creamer.

    • Alycia Lourim

      oh yeah working two jobs and no school right now is so i can fly off to ny and live there in hopes of starting a real life career

  • Jacki Dunn

    I’ve talked myself into believing that subbing is relevant to my career. I’ve also talked myself into believing I can live off the meager pay. But at least I get to spend my evenings watching dvr-ed episodes of Bones and Gilmore Girls.

  • Kelly Marie

    I am also a recent 22-year-old college grad. I had a full-time job that I accepted because I had no other options, which was a terrible life decision. I quit, and moved back home to live with my parents. I am experiencing so much of what you wrote about…I’m so glad I’m not alone in this interesting post-grade period of life!! Please keep writing more!

  • Trudy Holtz

    Hey, I hear you. I had to start school a few times. I wanted to be a school librarian, but the economy has crazily made those positions unstable. I finally ended up a dental assistant and work part time. Number five and ten are definitely me! I spend all day on one of my days off at the thrift stores. There are 6 I visit on one day and 2 I visit on another day. And Pinterest will suck your life away job or not! Good luck!

  • Georgia Leaker

    i go out on thursday nights and my friends with the real time jobs are like OH NO I NEED SLEEP! while they do that (boring) i am dancing with drag queens (literally)

  • Kimberly Nappi

    insanely jealous at the moment, as the life of the unemployed netflix addict is my dream.

  • Stephanie Cardenas

    i can totally relate to you ! love having free time browsing through thrift stores , playing with my cats , watching movies. …and DANCING .. =]

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