I’m going to write a book about counter-intuitive things to do when you’re unemployed. Like, join a gym! Mr. Ben and I took this opportunity to join the Brooklyn YMCA because of the pool and the classes and because he told me he’d withhold physical intimacy unless I do something to reduce my stress levels, which are registering at somewhere between Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island and the exposure to which are threatening to turn him into a three-headed dog.
Start an IRA! I did that the last time I was booted from a job. It has since lost more than half of its value, thanks to the current economy. Still, it makes you feel grown up and responsible to have an IRA, especially a droopy one, since you can join in the chorus of grumbling by real adults about the stock market. Camaraderie is important during these dark times, and to stave off a feeling of isolation while you’re spending most of your days at home wrapped in a blanket talking to your dead orchid about the book deal you’re totally going to get any day now.
Apply for a mortgage! Maintaining your equilibrium is key, as is a feeling of forward motion. (We are all sharks: we move or we die.) Talking to banks about rates and assets helps you feel more in control, as well as active and connected to the outside world. If you actually get pre-approved and can put in an offer on that fantastic Cobble Hill apartment across the street from your new gym, all the better.
Advertise your capabilities on Craigslist! Just because you’ve been laid off doesn’t mean you don’t have skills. You deserve to be paid to help other people do things you yourself have often failed to do, like find a great job and keep it.
Get a fancy haircut. Gotta keep up appearances! This works well when a guy you know offers a two-for-one deal at his hoity-toity studio and you and a friend can each get away with paying only $34 each to look so fabulous no one will notice you’re still vaguely green and pulsing from the radioactive stress.
Post pictures of you and your friends looking happy. This will remind you that you have friends and also that you have, at moments, been happy: