Thursday, March 18, 2010

Diary Of A Layoff 12: A Fresh Mindset

Last month, I posted an entry outlining every job I’ve been paid for over the past three decades. I’ve got another to add to the long list: mystery shopper. After enduring a grueling online competency exam, I was approved to be one of those dudes checking up on you to see how well you’re doing your job.

In the past week, I visited five retailers to inquire about specific services and did the same at a local movie theater (sorry, can’t offer details!). Yes, cool cats, it’s come to this: I'll whore myself out for a buck any day. Actually, more like $120, not a bad booty call for the effort involved.

I ran into a friend of mine today who used to be an SVP with a major record label and like me, she was laid off (actually, four times over the past decade, thanks to continual downsizing). She was saying that in time, she didn't miss what the music biz has become and had lost her mojo for being out until 3 a.m. every night at events... I could really relate. Now that’s it been more than a year since Billboard replaced me and many of my co-workers with younger, cheaper “journalists,” frankly, it’s becoming more and more difficult to imagine being somebody's bitch.

Those things I don't miss have reached a point of outweighing those I do. The lack of camaraderie, free music and um, office supplies, health & life insurance and the cavalcade of glamorous invites, of course, I still smart over. Oh, and a paycheck. But I am now so accustomed to the taste of freedom, that being locked into the 9-5, sitting in a cubicle sounds loathsome. It's just been too long.

Over this past weird, confounding, frustrating, depressing but ultimately empowering year, I've somehow kept my head above water. I've not once had to dip into savings, I've gotten enough freelance to keep my fingers and my brain active... And of course, ultimately, I am hoping that the book project I'm so invested in will ultimately pay off, opening a brand new chapter, literally.

On Valentine's Day, I told partner Ayhan that I was weary of wondering, "When is the next big thing going to happen?" I finally realized that while the present isn't what I expected at this juncture in my life, well, who the hell can plan for much of anything anyway? I wasted so much time wondering about the future that I was ignoring the pleasures of the present. In that moment, I stopped sulking and began appreciating the fact that the days and nights are mine to schedule. What in god's name do I have to complain about?

And this part-time, temporary U.S. Census Bureau gig... It’s a blast. An adventure. And for as long as it lasts, it’s an income. And look outside. Spring begins on Saturday, and the forecast is sunny and 72 degrees. It's only going to get better.