My unemployment has faded into retirement, which in turn is fading into a sense that I’ve got to do something with my time.
I’ve got to make something, be something, earn some money. My year-and-a-half job hunt didn’t go well, and I gave up after about 200 applications. I don’t blame anybody for firing me, or for not hiring me. I have a lot of skills, and one of them is annoying people.
I’m sitting this quiet winter Sunday morning on my couch in the living room, my big cat Buddy — formerly Tigger — by my side. My need to be doing something is on hold for now, which makes me a little crazy, because after having jobs for 50 years I feel kind of empty without one, and I have taken on some tasks that I should be doing right now, instead of sitting on the couch. Even on Sunday morning, my feeling of responsibility is taking away my ability to enjoy doing nothing. Nothing, which I always thought would be cool to do. Now that I have nothing to do, I want something to do.
I fix computers and troubleshoot small computer networks. I somehow talked myself into a part time gig writing a weekly newsletter for a local small business. I play in a rock’n’roll bar band. And I teamed up with an old friend and former business partner to start a web design company. I call this “scrambling.” I get a few bucks every now and then on an uncertain schedule, and I look around for the next little payday. I can’t just go to my mailbox at work and pick up my next paycheck on Friday. I have to scramble for the money. It’s working — sort of — but it’s not answering the big question, maybe because I haven’t figured out what the big question is.
I lived hard, and I took my retirement a little bit at a time, while I was young. I didn’t care about the future. I was sure I wouldn’t live to see it. Now I’m in it. A black man with an alien-sounding name is President. California — my lush Promised Land — is turning dry and desolate. Telephones have morphed — abruptly, it seems to me — into little talking computers you carry in your pocket, and they tell you where to get some pizza and who wants to be your “friend.” Like my many sore muscles and my grey hair, this future has crept up on me, and it feels like yesterday only in a parallel universe.