Unemployment's getting kinda weird
I'm going into my third month of unemployment (last night I heard about a fellow actor-type who's been laid off since September--six months!), and it's getting weird.
The government today reported that another 651,000 jobs were lost in February. Man, we're bleeding jobs faster than GM's bleeding dollars. Is that possible? Since December, 2007 when this so-called recession was first recognized (this intrepid reporter is calling it a depression; remember: You heard it here first, at Action Bob Markle) 4.4 million people are out of work. That officially puts the jobless rate at 8.1 percent, the highest in 25 years. But let's not forget that that figure does not include seasonal employees, the self-employed who aren't finding work, and people like those old timers who greet you at Wal-Mart who aren't making enough to feed their cats. Unofficially, let's call the jobless rate at around 15, or maybe 18 percent, okay?
There is no work out there. I've had one tiny job, and one acting job. You can only make so many batches of red sauce, chicken soup, bean soup, and chili before it starts to get a little repetitious. Make only so many dinners for your honey when she comes home from work before you start feeling a bit worthless. Only so many small chores and errands you can run before you start wondering if you actually are useless.
And you know those are the landmines you have to dodge. You don't just flop down on the couch and sigh and call it a life. I write everyday. I'm a writer, that's what I do. I'm taking low-cost classes around Boston. Music theory at Club Passim. Acting for the camera from a casting agent.
I'm starting to look into going back to school. All the time I was married I couldn't get my Masters because I was too busy working a dead end job to support the family. Now here I am, 53-years-old, out of work in a depression with a BFA in photography. Maybe it's time to finally get that degree, and God love Sue, she's the one pushing me to do it, thinking we can travel and teach at the same time. The one thing is the cost of a university degree is still as inflated as the value of homes. There is no way a Masters should cost between $20,000 and $30,000. Everything, everything still costs way too damn much, and we all need a serious realty check.
You got to get out of the house. Even going into Boston and wandering around, checking out the library, doing some people watching, changes your perspective. Those prison people know what they're doing when they throw you into solitary. We're social creatures. We gotta see some sunshine from time to time.
And I've finally started that play I said I'd write. Yeah, it's called Red Dog, and it addresses that theme I'm constantly beating to death, that we as a society don't recognize that the people who hurt us emotionally are no different than thugs who hurt us physically, and that as a species we still aren't evolved enough to actually see the thing we're hurting, but it's a part of us as surely as our arms and legs are. It's called Red Dog because red dog is a football term for a blitz, where linebackers or defensive backs suddenly charge and usually hit the quarterback from the blindside and inflict some serious harm (which is what these emotional thugs do; they just blindside us because most of us simply are not raised to believe people would do such a thing, so we're caught unaware), and also because dogs are color-blind and can't see colors, but it doesn't mean they don't exist. And the play has all of my favorite things in it: dogs, guitars and whiskey.