Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Funemployment

Again, the blog has been neglected for several days and at this juncture I don't have that much of an excuse. I've had friends in town and have essentially been in vacation mode with them since I am still not working. I have a few prospects on the horizon job-wise so we'll see how everything pans out. It's daunting after seeing so many friends lose their jobs around me. I promised myself I wouldn't go back into retail after I helped close The Good The Bad & The Ugly this summer but alternate options are slim to none. I doubt any media companies are hiring and the world is already full of struggling writers. I've got a bad case of fear of rejection holding me back from attempting to embark on a quest to get published. Then again, I also have to finish a work before I can even begin to get there.

Unemployment has been good for me in a way. It has taught me to live on very little money every week. My lifestyle has been pared down extremely and I like it. Survival is far easier for someone who doesn't smoke or drink and who has relatively cheap rent. It's not as though I am budgetarily attaining monk-like status, but for the first time in years I am doing things like cooking all my meals, saying "no" to social engagements that cost money, riding my bike everywhere in Brooklyn and avoiding the regular temptation to hail a cab. The basic things that many budget-conscious individuals have done for years. I'm not saying I've reached an enlightened state by giving up a few luxuries here and there, but it's been a long time since I've been in the position where something that costs $20 is something I really can't afford.

In the past few years I've done fairly well for myself financially in my field. Not that I was rolling in it (okay maybe during the Barneys era) but money hasn't been a problem in a long time. I worked 40+ hours a week for a long time and made a decent weekly income thanks to that. But thanks to my paychecks I've lived irresponsibly for a long time. There were, of course, plenty of things I couldn't afford, but I don't aspire to own anything that costs a significant amount of money. My concept of what "expensive" is became very skewed during my time at Barneys. When you are surrounded by $250 jeans and $60 plain white t-shirts and yours is the cheapest floor in the whole building, your mind adjusts. The more over-priced items you sell the more reasonable they seem. Luxury items become regular and assisting people purchase the more beautiful designer items day in and day out makes you covet them, makes you want them to be accessible to you as well. And so in your mind you make them permissable. The first big purchase is daunting, especially because as an employee you have to pay in cash or with a Barneys card which I never applied for. The prospect of owing my job money was a scary one and thankfully I held back.

It's scary how the luxury-centric mentality of this city can creep up on you. Former punk rockers owning $300 jeans. Way to go New York. I like fashion, I like exclusivity, I like owning things that no one else has. I am not going to deny that. But I also hate conspicuous designer items. The "it" bag or shoes. Things made covetable by the masses. I much prefer a secret vintage stash of beauties and logo-free modern dazzlers. I once had a second-hand Fendi bag. I sold it. Same with my Marc Jacobs bag. I don't like being that conspicuous, my clothing loudly hollering a price-tag. It's not for me. But I still made some mistakes while at Barneys and I'm happy to own the items, though when I think back on how much I spent while an employee there I want to burst into tears.

So here I am. Unemployed with no savings and a significant credit card bill thanks to a trip to Alaska followed immediately by one to Texas that I assumed I would pay off steadily through my weekly paychecks. Oops. My bad. Generation Debt, living up its name. Irresponsibility and poor planning have my been MO for a long time. Losing my job has been a swift kick in the ass, hopefully in the right direction.

2 comments:

thehistoryofmyfuture said...

Mike and I lost our jobs too. We feel your pain.

minutieatations said...

jeff and i were talking about this the other day. i haven't, and i think he hasn't, been able to afford nearly anything since the first ny trip.