Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Post-Grad's Guide to Unemployment

For the past two weeks, I have been unemployed. Granted, it wasn't unemployed in the conventional sense. I wasn't laid off and I didn't quit my job. I simply graduated, was forced to resign from my extracurricular activities (McClung's) and since I'm no longer eligible for funding, I also had to quit my work-study job.

So, for the first time in about 5 years I found myself without a job.

And now I've got one.*

But in a homage to those two weeks spent in income-less limbo, I present to you the workaholic's guide to keeping busy while unemployed:

Into the Wild by John Krakauer is a must-read for any recent university graduate. (It's difficult not to relate to Chris McCandless, which probably explains the pilgrimages of youth flocking to the site of his death since the movie's release.) Natty and I rented the film earlier this week, and I couldn't help but feel shame for watching the movie before reading the book. I redeemed myself by reading the book in one sitting.

Already read Into the Wild? For another tale of a university graduate going primal, try Thor Heyerdahl's Fatu-Hiva: Back To Nature. Think McCandless, but instead of 1992 the year is more like 1937, and replace Alaska and starvation with Polynesia and elephantitis.

Next up? Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking.

Keeping with the theme of uprooting your roots, I'd recommend Reel Paradise, which documents the life of an American family who move to an island in Fiji and open a movie theatre that screens Hollywood blockbusters for free. But this one won't tug your heart strings--instead, be prepared to get your hate-on for a rich family that even after a year of living with the locals just can't seem to figure it out. I also loved Enchanted and starting watching the HBO series Carnivale, but couldn't quite get into it.

Sangria is our drink of choice. Buy triple sec, brandy and some cheap red wine. Cut up all that fruit that's rotting in your fridge, throw in some fruit punch and a splash of club soda, and enjoy with friends in the sun.

For the Toronto crowd, D.Dodd is obsessed with Tortilla Flats (458 Queen St. W.) right now. He thinks they are the best thing ever. I however, am more into Bar_One (924 Queen St. W.) for hangover brunches, Squirrely's (810 Queen W.) for drinks (we like the beer selection but don't try the food, it's pretty bad) and Craft Burger (573 King W.) to get my blood sugar level going again.

But in the end, House on Parliament (456 Parliament Street) holds the key to my heart. Featuring the best veggie burgers in the city, sweet potato fries and nightly bread pudding specials (last time I had the chocolate cherry), it's hard to beat.

Jean Leloup, She and Him, Classified and Lykke Li.

And When You're Really Bored. . .
Sasha called me and asked me to help her move. I jumped at the opportunity to get off the couch.


*The details on the position: non-profit organization that deals with youth and international development, full-time, salaried, super close to my house and I'm pretty damn excited about it.


  1. Anonymous6:21 PM


    Good for you, I knew it wouldn't be long before someone scooped you up. I also love House on Parliament. I'm a little sad that I no longer live in the 'hood, but I'm not above making the pilgrimage. We should go before I leave.

  2. I haven't seen the movie yet but I read the book years ago. My take is that McCandless' story is not one to be romanticized -- he was an untrained rookie who thought that he could survive Alaska just because he read "On the Road" a couple of times. I've had grandiose dreams of being a "Dharma Bum", too, but I know better than to go running into one of the harshest wildernesses on Earth fully and intentionally unprepared. ("A map and compass? Who needs those antiquated instruments?!?")

    It's one thing to live out your dreams -- it's quite another to be willfully negligent about it.

    All that aside -- congrats on the job!

  3. Anonymous11:35 PM

    yay employment!!! i'm glad it worked out for you.

    i agree with D Dodd, Tortilla Flats is kinda fantastic. However, your mention of NIGHTLY BREAD PUDDING SPECIALS!!? has me wanting to come home to try this House on Parliament place in a major way.

    I bought Into The Wild a few days ago and am going to proceed to read tomorrow. Can't wait.

  4. I would have to agree that he had romanticized ideals of living in Alaska. However, given the context of his travels (much of which was spent alone) it's understandable why he got caught up in his fantasies.

  5. Anonymous1:40 PM

    tortilla flats blows ass. take him to tacos el trompe in kensington. not the best deal for your money, but it's more authentic. or tacos el asador in little korea - they have awesome tamales.

    and congratulations! i knew your wait would pay off.

  6. Woot woot on employment. Things always sort itself out in the end. I've only been to House on Parliament once but I really liked it (sweet potato fries and all). Douglas Coupland is also a good post-grad read. I also enjoy listening to Mark Knopfler's Sailing to Philidelphia album for some good ol' Americana, Route 66 tunes.

  7. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I went on a big Douglas Coupland kick when I was 18, read all his novels, and have read everything he's written to date. My favourite is his collection of short stories: Polaroids from the Dead and Life After God.

  8. Welcome to the rat race!

  9. I'm an awesome expert on unemployment, and I've noticed one glaring absence in your list - naps. Lots of them. Long ones. Every day. That way, you don't even have time to find a job.

  10. Yo Jess,

    I just watched Into the Wild tonight. The film adaptation wasn't half bad. I particularly enjoyed his freak-out scene in LA. I can completely relate! Lots of scenes filmed in this neck of the woods, too -- Palm Springs, Anza Borrego, San Jacinto, etc.

    But there is one crucial point that the book included, but the film completely omitted. Had he taken a map with him (which should have been covered in Outdoorsman 101), he would have known that there was a foot bridge that would have allowed him to cross the surging river. Or that there was a fully stocked hunting lodge several miles from the bus.

    There is no good reason that this kid should have died out there and that's what irritates me the most about the whole story...