Thursday, April 27, 2017

Unemployed.


Around this time last year, I found myself so busy that I was rejecting about two calls for work a day.

Around this time two years ago, I was simultaneously wrapping one show while prepping another.

Around this time three years ago, I was on a show full time.

But this year? I find myself with a lot of free time on my hands. I'm not sure if it's the looming writer's strike, the lack of work in general, the fact that I've been off the day-playing market for so long or what, but for the first time in about four years, I find myself with more days off than not.

At first it was fabulous. I'd spend days leisurely catching up on some reading, visiting new museums and restaurants, and checking out a new hiking trail I've been meaning to try for the last year and a half. I was having a great "staycation" in L.A., slowly making my way through the touristy things this town has to offer, but we never take the time to do.

It was great. I loved finally having some time off and exploring the little pockets of L.A. that I've always driven past but never stopped to see. Ramen in Little Tokyo? Check. Ube milkshakes in Eagle Rock? Yes, please! Artisan ice cream in Los Feliz? Been there, done that. Seeing the Endeavor space shuttle at the California Science Center? Did it and would do it again. "Unemployed"? More like "Funemployed!"

They say "unemployment is fun for about a week." I always scoffed at that whenever I'd hear someone say that at work. I always thought anything less than a week and a half off was just a tease. But I've now learned that for me, unemployment is fun for about three weeks.

Am I done bumming around L.A.? Hell no. And I don't think I'll ever be. There's so much left on my L.A. Bucket List that it's actually growing. For every one thing I cross off, I learn about two others I want to tackle.

But as much as I love eating and sightseeing my way around town, I can't help but notice that my bank account is shrinking. Los Angeles isn't a cheap town, and neither are the touristy things. I'm not close to being past due on bills by any means, and I did work non-stop all those years to ensure I had a nice nest egg for the slim times like this, but it's hard to justify treating yourself when you haven't had a paycheck in a while and don't know when the next one will come along. After a few years of non-stop work, I've finally convinced myself that it's okay to take time off because there will always be another job around the corner. And now, the calls are coming few and far between. Those old fears come flooding back.

Not only that, but I've re-learned that having all this time off gives you too much time to think. Without the distraction of being on set thirteen hours a day, or your body being so tired you fall asleep the second your head hits the pillow, your mind starts to wander to things that are hard to think about. Like what if you never get as much work again? What if your best years are behind you? Am I on the right path in my career? What will happen to me if I never get there? What if I lose my health insurance? If I get really sick or injured, who will help take care of me? Why do I not have any close female friends here? Do I have any friends here that aren't in the business? Is that normal? Wow, has it really been that long since I've been on a date? Wow, has it really been that long since I've been in a relationship? Wow, has it really been that long since I graduated high school and/or college? And what do I have to show for it? Am I not where I thought I'd be because I was too naive and ambitious? Or is it because I just don't have what it takes? Can I still lead a happy and fulfilled life if I never find "The One"? Yes. No. Yes? I think so? I hope so? I'm happy on my own now, but will that always be the case? Oh, who the fuck knows.

Unemployment leaves a lot of time for self reflection and I'm not sure I'm ready to see what's staring back at me in the mirror.

1 comment :

Michael Taylor said...

That's one reason I started writing nearly 30 years ago -- I always had something challenging and satisfying to work on between jobs. A too-active mind during an inactive time can be dangerous. A little self-reflection can be a good thing, but too much will drive you crazy. Beside, most of those questions will only be answered in retrospect, in -- as the saying goes -- "the fullness of time."

I think the prospect of a strike has a lot to do with the work slowdown, but with any luck the WGA and Producers will make a last-minute deal and things will pick up again.

Meanwhile, start writing that novel that's been hiding inside all this time...

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