Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Layoff List

Every morning starts the same.

Jay takes the dog out in the morning, while I luxuriate in bed, sinking deeper into the warmth of the covers. He showers, while I dream of fluffy bunnies, '90s dance parties and teenage make-outs. When it's time for him to go to work, he comes to say goodbye and the jealousy sets in. I'm going to have an awesome day of doing absolutely nothing when he has to go to work. "Are you going to get up?" he prompts bitterly.

At least that's how Jay probably sees it.

But here's how it actually goes: Jay wakes up and takes the dog outside. I'm awake, too, but would rather not be. I have nothing to do. Nothing. I have no work contracts to complete and no coupons to clip. I had plans, but for the second day in a row, I have to cancel them because the dog is sick (again). All I have to look forward to is going to the vet (again) and then taking Brock outside at regular two-hour intervals so he can laser shit (yes, that's the technical term for it) putrid-yellow fluid all over the alley. In between, I have the luxury of cleaning caked-on vomit off his hind legs. I'm going to have a terrible day of doing absolutely nothing when Jay gets to go to work.

"Are you going to get up?" he asks me. I hide deeper under the covers, wishing the fairy godmother of solid dog bowel movements and career guidance would come to visit me.

When I first got laid-off, my layoff list (which is like a bucket list, but with less focus on the eventuality of death and more emphasis on the eventuality of my EI running out) was sinfully long. I was going to make casseroles and muffins and do Jay's taxes. I was going to print all my photos from the last 10 years and put them into albums. I was going to walk the dog and Turbojam every single day. I was finally going to get the chance to focus on establishing a freelance writing career. It was going to be awesome!

It's nearly six months later and I still haven't accomplished much on the layoff list. That's not to say that I haven't accomplished anything--there are a ton of things that wouldn't have been possible if I had a full-time office job right now: getting a dog, winning the People's Choice Award in Miss Universe Canada, gaining field experience in Guyana and finally putting my journalism degree to some use. This layoff really was (and is) the perfect opportunity to work on both personal and career goals.

So why is it that I don't know what to do next? Everyone I talk to seems to have their own layoff list--you know, all the things you would do if you didn't have to work full-time. Everyone seems so certain of what they would do if they were in my position. They would travel or start their own business or play video games every day. (And then there's the classic layoff list aspiration amongst my journalism friends: "I would write a book," Carla told me last week. The thing is, I too always thought that if I got laid-off, I'd write a book.)

So here's what's going to happen. Since I can't figure out what to do next and everyone seems to know what they would do if they were me, tell me your layoff dreams. If you weren't working full-time, what would you do this week? This month? This year?

Because maybe, even if I'm not realizing my own dreams, I can realize other people's.


  1. Anonymous3:50 PM

    I had a very similar thing happen during the summer and fall. As soon as I started working two days a week, the rest of my weekdays got way more productive.. it was all about momentum, list-making, and routines for me.
    I work on my blogging and freelance writing (I contribute weekly to BlogTO); I work on little projects around the house (like purging belongings!), and I cook, bake, and go to the gym. I don't make enough money, but I have enough savings to be OK until I find a more long-term job.

    Good luck!

  2. Anonymous7:12 PM

    I had a similar problem when I was between jobs for two months. I had this big grand idea of all the things that I would do (including organize all of my photos!) and I didn't get around to doing any of it. I was really bored and my friends and family were working so I didn't have anyone to hang out with during the day.

    This may sound strange but I think you need to trick yourself into doing things. Figure out how much money you have budgeted to live on each week and then divide that money into how many "hours" you think you should spend being productive (or "working") each day. So if you figure out that you'd like to work for 6 hours each day and your budget means that you'd be "making" $15 per hour that you work, if you don't do anything that day take that money and put it somewhere that you can't access it (maybe give it to your boyfriend or email it to your parents or something). Then you'll have motivation to get things on your to-do list done (even if it's just taking the dog for a walk or updating your resume) or you'll have less money to live on.

    Might work?

  3. Elena- I'm excited to read through your blog a bit more! I didn't know it existed. I'm also thinking about contributing to the Torontoist or BlogTO.

    Anon-Thank you for the advice.

    However, the question still remains. It's not, "What should I do?" The question is, "What would you do if you weren't working or going to school full-time?" What would you do if you had the chance?

  4. I would:
    a) Try to go surfing again.
    b) Take a trip to TO to visit the coolest sister in the world
    c) Finish the 5 video games that I have on the go
    d) Finish reading the smallish stack of books on my coffee table that I keep thinking I'll get around to reading.
    e) Eventually, start to worry about how to pay off my credit card since the first two things on this list would definitely go on there.