Being the privileged first-world-dweller that I am (and also until very recently—unemployed), and given the rather grave climate of the jobs dialogue, I thought I would highlight some of the good things about being unemployed. Call it a celebration of indolence if you will, but being a slave to the clock is not an answer to the question of what seven-year-old-me wanted to be once transitioning to adulthood. That said, I must confess that as a thirty-year-old man with a small child to tend to emotionally, physically, and financially, I should probably be ashamed of myself.
But guess what? I’m not.
Because I won’t be guilted into being a productive member of society! That shit’s overrated. Remember the scene in Pulp Fiction where Jules decides to “walk the earth” like Kwai Chang Caine from Kung Fu? And then Vincent tells him that what he’s decided is to be a bum? Or maybe you’ve read Paul Lafargue’s  The Right to be Lazy, an essay filled with political, academic, and artistic justifications for lazing about as opposed to working like a machine to make others rich (&c. &c.). Note: I thought for a brief moment I was posting on HTMLGiant or something. Without bloating this piece with useful, informative things like definitions and statistics, anecdotes and humorous digressions—because I’m lazy—I’ll cut right to the point: When I was fired from a year-long-soul-crushing job in the hospitality industry, I decided to kick back and relax on the funds I’d accumulated working all by myself all those hours. Note: Those funds lasted all of two months. I was unemployed nearly four.
So what did I do?
For one thing, I didn’t immediately search for a new job. I was emotionally fried to the point where I was still complaining weeks after my dismissal. “I’m not looking for more work right now,” I’d say. “They had me up there 5-6 days a week,” and blah, blah, blah. There’s a series of In Living Color sketches about Jamaicans in which I probably fit perfectly  (loaded with stereotypes, of course). Watch as they all boast of their absurd number of jobs and responsibilities! Imagine them finding pert, humorous ways to label me lazy, chastising me for my lack of discipline and fortitude!
Which brings me to television. I watched a lot of television. And by television, I mean YouTube and Netflix. I spent many a day in front of the TV with the Wii programmed to Netflix, re-watching every available episode of Archer and Family Guy. I even managed to watch the first four seasons of The League twice!  I stuffed my face with microwaved nachos and ramen while taking in episodes of Air Crash Investigation, Kitchen Nightmares, and Bar Rescue on YouTube. And then porn (!) Lots of that.
Sex. There was none of that.
Although there were a few friends goodly enough to take me out for drinks or the occasional lunch/dinner.
Creation. In this aspect of my life, I’d never felt more productive. I managed to get a lot of art done in this time. I did a pop-up show with some friends in March and sold some art. I finished my short story project. Note: Available on Thought Catalog.
Guilt. It became a factor. I started thinking about the little boy I’d worked so hard for and his mother, who, despite the fact that the money stopped coming in as frequently as before, softened her attitude toward my relationship with him. Strengthening the bond with my son helped just as much (if not more) during the period of unemployment as the artistic progress and the support of my friends, and my mother and father, who, admittedly, broke their backs propping me up for some time after the disintegration of my saved money. I knew better.
I had to remind myself that I’m a grown man, and that I don’t have the financial positioning—the privilege, if you will—to be lazy. There are people out there who don’t have the option (and don’t need to be reminded) to “not work,” and to be frank, I didn’t. Scrambling to pay bills and support habits sucks. Playing catch-up sucks, too. But I don’t have to tell that to anyone reading this.
But in the end, it’s like Tron famously said: “America don’t wanna see us work, America wanna see us live!”  And that’s what I’ll continue to do: live.
1# Notice how “lazy” he looks in the photo. Right on.
2# “Hey Mon”
3# Count the exclamation points… !
4# From “Mad Real World” Chappelle’s Show.