Ways to Be Successfully Unemployed

by Emma Barrie

When people ask you what you’d want to be doing in an ideal world, yell, “Space cowboy!” Whisper, “Obstetrician.”

Use your days to browse seven-dollar DVDs at Duane Reade. To organize Skittles by color on your kitchen table. To write Mars, Inc. a letter entitled: “Why So Few Purples?” To Photoshop bangs onto your forehead. To wonder when you say “pineapple peanut” aloud, if anyone else in the world is saying “pineapple peanut” at the exact same moment.

Go to a dinner party where you only vaguely know someone. When people there ask how your job is going, say “It is the best!” with an exclamation mark at the end and with big eyebrow movements. Drink too many glasses of white wine from a bottle you brought and uncorked yourself. Decide you’re going to write a novel. No, a children’s book. No, you’re going to teach children. No, you’re going to go back to school and become a teen counselor. You’re going to move to New Zealand and get pregnant and raise a Kiwi. You’re going to discover alternative fuel sources. You did always like science camp. At least the parts where you made goop from corn starch.

Decide you really don’t go to enough museums. Start making a list of exhibits you want to see. Turn it into a list of ex-boyfriends. Count how many of them wore glasses. How many of them took you home for Christmas. How many of them smelled like Old Spice, or preferred obscure foreign films, or were in a band with a female lead singer with good bangs. Make a bar graph of how you felt about each of them throughout the time dated. Notice clear patterns of decline.

Decide you’re going to start taking naps during the day because you write better at night. Spend a lot of time lying in bed with your eyes closed, having day-mares about the rest of your life. In these day-mares, you are older and married and sexless, fighting about the price of private schools while you pee and your husband plucks his nose hairs. Everything about the way he talks annoys you, and everything about the way you talk annoys yourself. Imagine he owns orange Crocs or pre-frayed denim. Decide to never get married. Open your eyes. Write in the notebook on your nightstand, “Alternatives? Polygamy? Raising a baby on a farm with four of your best lady friends? …Screenplay idea?”

Know that you’d feel better about things if you joined a gym and exercised regularly. Google gyms in your area. Browse their weekly classes. Realize you’d actually be great at Prenatal Kickboxing. Or Postnatal Medicine Ball Underhand Tossing. Or Reggae Groove Sidestep. Sign up for free trials at all of the gyms. Every day thereafter, answer your phone and tell Julio or Brenda that you’re out of town now, but you will test out their facilities upon your return.

Realize that if you were a guy, you could donate sperm for money. Wonder why none of your unemployed friends are donating their sperm. Feel brilliant. Write a mass e-mail to your male friends with the subject heading, “Your sperm for sale?” Delete that. Change it to, “Hand-y way to make fast cash!” Say aloud, “You’re welcome.”

In addition, e-mail everyone you’ve ever worked for or met. Ask them if they know of any job openings. Say, “I’m not even picky! Willing to sell out!” But still, refuse to work for your old boss. It’s called dignity.

Previously: Some Futures I Thought I Might Have

Emma Barrie has also written for the New York Times and This Recording.