Subject: Re: your mail
If memory serves me right, A C wrote
(on Thu, Sep 27, 2001 at 05:55:45PM -0400):
> I think unemployment is starting to get to me, in a funny way. First
> because while others revere the firefighters and rescue workers and
> call them heroes, my hero is Scott Adams. Second, well, nevermind.
You don't need to tell me about the second thing. I've been unemployed enough in my life; I graduated college during a recession and a decade of personal laziness (mine).
The exact nature of the situation changes, but the solution boils down to this: get a routine of productivity and slacking. You can't look for a job 8 hours a day, that's just the facts. You *can* spend 40 hours making your resume better, but that's about it. After that, you have to keep a routine so that you can do nothing with true dedication when you have run out of the hours in the day where you can actually look for a job. Having a routine is essential to keeping your chops up in job-hunting without wasting all the wonderful free time feeling sorry for yourself or suffering under the delusion that more super extra diligence will find you the job faster, or that doing laundry, darning your socks and rearranging the furniture will make your life better in the face of a single unpleasant fact staring you down all day. Do your routine; keep lists, have a time you start doing stuff, follow it even if you stay up til 5 playing starcraft the night before, and when your tasklist for the day is done, enjoy what few Americans understand; the pleasure of free time.
The best thing to do is go to where people walk, loaf, and lounge. Places near colleges are usually prime. For one thing, the girls are young and nubile, and for another, the chicks of all ages are less likely to be wearing bras, and less likely to be self-conscious about their clothing, having less experience with letches like yourself (they have plenty of experience with other kinds). Don't get accustomed to wearing sunglasses unless you want to be "out" about your lechery, or else if you can maintain a constant 3-day stubble (in your case, that means at least 3 weeks). You definitely don't want to be an "out" letch if you ever want to meet any of these women, unless you are committed to going all the way down that road (and I know you are *not* but that's a different story). For another thing, there tend to be a lot of odd sorts like yourself hanging around, which means that you are doubtless not the most aimless or lecherous weirdo to be pacing the streets.
Wander near wherever the freaks and weirdos hang out, and make sure you get to know them all by face, if not by name, but don't talk to them until you meet them through random people. You can meet the random people by drinking coffee in a public place for an hour or more and patronizing the same shops daily. Observe every thing you can; most people won't notice you staring because they are in a bigger hurry than you; if you miss this part you are missing the real point, which is understanding the world by seeing it raw. To the French, this is the art of the flaneur (the loafer), who wanders around the city digging the vibe and being smelly and French. Don't stop taking showers like the French, but do skip them every now and then. Eventually you'll meet people, just remember that you'll have to go to weird parties and all kinds of strange social situations and still be yourself until the people you like reveal themselves.
Always buy the largest coffee possible in order to draw out your lounging. Learn your body's ideal combination of milk and sugar, which is probably less of each than you think you need. Make up for the acidity and speed by eating lots of carb snacks and cut down on your daily meat intake (unless you are, er, really really into that), at least until you learn to drink enough to cut the grease. You could take up smoking; it really does make you look cooler, but sooner or later you'll have to quit or risk losing many precious years of loafing in retirement, so it's best not to smoke unless you are severely coolness-impaired.
But it's not enough to drink coffee, you have to spend LOTS of time in record stores or book stores or video stores or art book stores or something. Computer stores won't do, because girls don't hang out there and the interesting people are usually at home playing with their computers. Stay there until everyone who was there when you came in has left, and the employees are starting to joke with you (this will be sometime after they realize you aren't trying to steal things and might occasionally buy stuff and actually know something about the stuff they sell). Don't go to any big chain stores or national franchises, the employees there are dumb and/or think they have real jobs; the employees at local weirdo stores are just happy not to be you at this moment. Oddly, they are often hoping to meet people like you, although that won't be obvious to you until much later. But if you are diligent in your loafing, you'll figure out what's going on in town.
Now that you have managed to brighten the middle of your day with pointless drooling, do something useful around the house, do something to better yourself, like computing, research, work, reading, etc. Do it now, because that leaves your nights free for drunkenness and debauchery, or at least more lechery and shiftlessness. Sure, you might not get around to dedicated partying often (there may indeed be a lifetime quota), and maybe it just doesn't agree with your personality, but the least you could do is prepare for the evening by getting completely stoned by 3 in the afternoon. Or at least stupid in some way, like watching Oprah or Cops while naked. Then spend a couple hours looking at pictures in minute detail, and spend a couple more playing with photoshop while you've still got a buzz. It is important to be mentally active at this time of seeming slackery, or else you'll tip off into paranoia, which is just the lazy man's Acadaemia of the Id. Do anything that involves thinking about things that aren't you.
It's a silly program, but it illustrates several valuable points; get your responsibilities away early in the day, loaf as much as possible if you have nothing better to do, spend *some* time having something better to do (but not too much), and be open to the truly best and weirdest things in your life happening in the most unexpected ways while doing things you never planned on or aspired to; in all seriousness, the best things in my life have come to me in the middle of this unmodern art of living purely in the moment. If you follow this program of disciplined (!) aimlessness, you will eventually find out where you really want to be by getting there.
OK, so maybe I'm making too much of your situation, and I won't say right now how much of the above advice is complete bullshit, but I really do know about waiting to find a job during bad times and making the most of going in a direction that is extremely undervalued in America. Sure, maybe it's *overvalued* in, I dunno, Uzbekistan, where wasting the day in tea shops with a hookah is a 3,000 year-old pastime; if you suddenly become a native Uzbeki, I'll advise you to dedicate your life to building microsatellites in an abandoned warehouse or studying astrophysics or something. But what's the alternative, thinking that your current employment status is a reflection of your worth? That's a far worse joke than anything I've suggested.
> Hear now the words of Scott Adams:
> I was doing some thinking today. But I didn't enjoy it very much, so I
> decided to write this introduction instead.
> It seems as though every time I turn around, well, I get dizzy. So I
> stopped doing that. Now I only walk straight forward and backward
> and it has made my life much simpler. Granted, sometimes I have to
> tunnel through sheetrock, which is hard on my teeth. And my annoying
> neighbors are starting to whine about the holes in their houses. And it
> can take a VERY long time to get where I'm going, given the
> circumference of the earth and the hassle with immigration.
For my entire 13th year, I got the spins every night and couldn't fall asleep. I developed a routine of lying on my back or my right, then turning to my left, back to my right, and to my left again, each time turning whenever I got dizzy. After discovering the ritual and submitting to the final turn, I could fall asleep. I still do this -- not every night, but often -- to this very day.
> But when it starts to get me down I remember the story about the
> tortoise and his hair. If I recall, the tortoise had hair that grew very
> quickly. For some reason this was a problem. The tortoise eventually
> triumphed by beating his hair with his flipper.
This is true.
> Now you might say that tortoises (torti to be proper) do not have
> flippers. But if that's true, how could they fly? Or you might say that
> torti do indeed have flippers - I'm not really doing a whole lot of
> research for this part of the book - in which case, shut up.
> And this brings me to my main point: I've been spending far too much
> time alone in my house since I became a cartoonist. My friends told
> me that the isolation, combined with my newfound prosperity, would
> have a negative impact on my mental state. So I paid a guy to kill
> I'm kidding. I don't have friends. At least not good ones.
> S. Adams
Scott Adams gets it right. But it's all true, and for writers, it's a lifetime tightrope between discipline and goofing off and self-doubt; and it's an example of what I said about the value of walking around (read: "getting out of the house") and the discipline of doing nothing (keeping your sanity without externally imposed schedules), even if it means being a loafer in public view (overcoming self-doubt). It is important to be disciplined about it and have not a single regret, or else you'll get stuck doing it forever until you get it right, and you'll never enjoy it properly. Or else you'll just be old and creepy, which works for few people.
Keep at it, and don't get dizzy unless it's from your Sacred Hour of Computer Games and Bong Hits (4:30 to 7 pm),
Sat Sep 29 02:31:04 EDT 2001