A weekend when the weeks don’t seem to end

Two important questions should come to mind... Who's the hottie third down on the right? And why aren't I paying him lots of money to be so hot?

Two important questions should come to mind... Who's the hottie third down on the right, and why aren't I paying him lots of money to be so hot?

Weekends lose some of their punch in unemployment. Wifey is home, which, of course, is a good thing, even if I have to minimize the instrumental bleepy bloopy music and cat torturing. (For the record, they do purr while flying or scratching miniature turntables… or groan. Let’s go with purr.) But my Saturdays and Sundays feel more similar to weekdays lately. The employed among us know that having a job means answering to someone else five days a week (if you’re lucky). Freedom comes only on weekends. While I treat the job search and blog as a job, when and how much I work is completely up to me. The parameters and deadlines are self-imposed; my time is all my own. That’s a big reason why every day feels similar.

This past weekend actually felt like a weekend. Many of my buddies from high school and before were in New York for an unofficial reunion. I’ve been friends with these guys for over 20 years, longer than I haven’t been. I met one in third grade, when he solved Rubik’s Cubes every morning for the line of people at his desk. I bonded with another in the eighth grade over picking on the same dorky kid in math class. The best man at my wedding hosted pool and Pepsi-drinking marathons every afternoon for much of high school.

This was my first time seeing everyone together in a very long time. We’ve spread out across the country and to Europe from suburban Maryland but remained at least loosely in touch via email, holiday visits and the occasional wedding. Most of us are married, and some have young kids. And most everyone is moving ahead in a career. Some are really successful, which isn’t at all surprising. We’re a bright bunch. But I am unemployed – again – and feel like my career is stalled.

My aformentioned hotness is nothing new...

Don't call it a comeback, I've been here for years...

Unemployment makes me self-conscious. At 18, I didn’t envision myself scanning job boards and hitting up contacts for work at 37. The picture involved a great job, a fast car (insert Tracy Chapman reference here), a loud stereo and lots of money… and probably a bad haircut, given that it was 1990 and we didn’t know better. I thought I’d have it all figured out. I don’t, not even close. I’m not even sure what “it” is. This is a hard pill to swallow in the company of people who knew me when…

Wifey keenly pointed out that every one of my friends probably has something about themselves that bothers them (never mind the cringe-worthy stories). Most people do; self-awareness is part of what makes us human and the humans we are. My career is mine, and I’m trying to do something about it everyday. It’s just harder to escape, being the only one inside my own head.

The subject of my unemployment didn’t come up much; it’s not terribly funny or interesting, and has precious little to do with high school. Friends inquired and expressed concern. Some offered advice and support. But that was it, which is fine with me. I’m pretty tired of talking about it. A weekend should be a break from the week anyway. And this his one surely was.

We ate too much, drank too much and probably spent too much. We relived glory days, exaggerating them as middle-aged guys do. And I enjoyed every minute. These guys know the current unemployed me, but they know older versions of me much more. I’m better now and worse and exactly the same. My future (likely employed) self will be different still. Who knows exactly how things will shake out? It’s good to have old friends in the world to remind me that the present – like the past – won’t be forever. And they can knock me down when future success goes to my head.

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2 Comments

  1. underemployed wrote:

    ..ive become addicted to your blogs. its my newspaper. i dont know what will become of me once you become employed and these blogs go buh-bye.

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Permalink
  2. Lisa wrote:

    I know it’s the weekend because the electricity rates go down and I can get the laundry done for less money. :-\

    I hear ya on unemployment making one feel self-conscious. I’ve got 10 years on you and never thought in my 20s I’d be in this position. After years working as a programmer/software engineer, I’m now wondering if I should apply for the Endoscopy Scheduler position I saw this week at a local medical center. I figure, I won’;t have to keep worrying if the languages/tools/technology that I know is on the cusp of being obsolete, and people will always need endoscopies, right?

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 12:48 am | Permalink