Unemployed in LA

Jul 26

Time to Put my Game Face On


During an afternoon of browsing the internet writing, I came across a surprising fact.  According to a recent study published in The Daily Mail, 7 out of 10 women put make up on before they go to the gym.  This concerns me for three reasons.  1.) Is this what we’re really studying now? 2.) Have you seen what sweat does to make up? As someone who has definitely gone to the gym in last night’s make up, let me tell you the end results are downright terrifying. 3.) (The most selfish and therefore the most important): This “study” made me think about it, and I realized this whole Funemployment thing has turned me into the type of person that doesn’t wear make up.

Before you all send me pictures of celebrities “bravely” posing for photos without their makeup (I would be “brave” too if I had regular facials, a moisture routine monitored by a team, and - ya know - looked like a celebrity), I agree that women should not feel pressure to wear makeup all the time - or ever - if they don’t want to. It’s a really weird reason to get ridiculed (let’s focus, instead, on the return of floral print leggings). My concern has much less to do with personal vanity, and more to do with sticking with the habits I held that were expected of a successful professional. I used to apply makeup ritually to get ready for a productive day; days without makeup were relaxing, lazy days. When did I stop getting ready for a productive day?

I wouldn’t dream about going to the office with a bare face. Sure, often I dangerously slapped mascara on haphazardly over last night’s mascara while driving to work on an early conference call (whatever, at least my car has bluetooth), but I put enough on that made me look - and feel - professionally presentable. Now, as someone who browses the internet writes from home for a living, makeup is turning into a special occasion thing.

Just as I cleaned up my act when I found myself avoiding clothing with sizes and zippers in the home “office,” it’s time to turn this make up habit around.  Time to face the day with my game face, even if I’m the only one that sees it during office hours.

But you can count me out of makeup at the gym. I have to draw a personal vanity line somewhere.


Jun 26

My First Time: Pink Iron (Lean and Mean)

I’ve been hearing rave reviews about Pink Iron from a couple of my fit gal pals since it opened. The classes offered are bootcamp-style circuit training, which I have come to realize is the fastest way to lose weight that i have yet to try. As I much prefer to deal with these classes with friends, I suck it up and wake up early to join one of my raving gal pals for a 7AM Lean and Mean class. I will note that while I feel leaner after, I am also most CERTAINLY meaner due to insufficient sleep. I can’t fault Pink Iron for this.

The studio is located in the same strip mall complex as the famous-even-in-the-flyovers Barry’s Bootcamp. There’s also a Jiu Jitsu studio there. Perhaps there is a zoning law in West Hollywood that puts all the pain together. In any case, when I arrive at 6:45, there are already people in the complex working hard.

Pink Iron is the ladies only fitness facility in the complex. This is accented by the miniature poodle that greets me at the door (the name is Barbell - adorbs), the incredibly clean and sparkly locker room with shampoo and hair driers, and the fact that the really heavy weights are pink. The idea behind this girls only rule is to facilitate a supportive environment where women don’t have to dress up to work out (I don’t own any Lulu Lemon; this has never been a concern for me), and to offer workouts that are specifically catered toward the majority of women’s fitness goals (read: toning vs. bulking up). I’m all for it.

There are six people in this class (love), which is taught by an encouraging coach who is socially-spazzy in the best possible way. The spazz-factor lowered the intimidation factor of the impending boot camp. She walks us through the plan and the proper form for all of the strength exercises, and then we are off to kick it off with a warmup run.

Here’s something I just love: the cardio intervals are outside. Not on a treadmill! Just a quick run out of the studio, down the street to Barney’s Beanery-adjacent, and back up. This really punctuates the workout in such a refreshing way; and it’s nice to feel outside air in the middle of a killer workout.

The strength cycle starts with 20 reps of five exercises, followed by outdoor running in between each cycle. The first cycle is mini bell jumps (jumping from the floor onto a stack of barbells and back down), double arm kettlebell snatches (I had to look that term up too) with a 17 lb kettlebell, grand plié squat reach and jumps, thrusters with two 8 lb weights, and finally burpees - the bane of my workout existence. Each subsequent cycle cuts off the first exercise of the previous cycle, therefore the strength cycles go down to four, three, two and finally just those damn burpees in the last cycle. The strength exercises are quick and keep the cardio up; pounds of sweat are coming off me from the very beginning. 

After everyone finishes all five cycles and runs, we do a quick Tabata that alternates four 20-second ab twists and four 20-second planks. Not to be a martyr, but I would have loved a few more minutes of abs to end the workout. It was the one area that didn’t really feel fully burned out at the end of the workout. I was not about to be the girl in class that raised her hand when the teacher forgot to assign homework, so I keep my mouth shut.

The workout was fantastic. It was fast-paced and challenging, but not rushed and too strenuous for proper form. Each class varies, which keeps it fresh and effective. It was one of the better workouts I’ve tried in the past few months, and that fact that it’s “girls only” shouldn’t indicate otherwise.

For whatever reason, there is a perception of female-focused workout classes that they must be easy. You know the classes I’m talking about: any class that incorporates the word “bar,” “physique,” or “pilates,” or any class that talks about toning, as opposed to bulking up. I’m not sure where this perception comes from, but I’ve heard guys scoff at them, and I’ve even heard the ladies dismiss them as “not my thing - I prefer hardcore workouts” before giving it a shot.

Listen. I’ve done the dude classes, and I’ve done the lady classes, I’ve dragged dudes along to the lady classes, and the consensus is: they’re all hard. Just because Sweat Garage (which I love) has a wider selection of heavier weights, doesn’t mean it’s any better of a workout than Pink Iron (which, as indicated above, I also love). Unless you’re looking for body-builder type strength (to each his own, but it totally went out in the 80‘s), you probably don’t need to max out on the heaviest weights in the gym. Weights that provide a challenge, but that aren’t so heavy that they prevent correct form, are going to be the better route. So lay off the ‘tude about lady classes. 

Burst of exercise-feminism has passed; back into the details. The first trial class is free, monthly unlimited memberships are $149/month, and individual classes start at $20 (working all the way down to $13/class if you purchase a 30 pack). The other classes offered at Pink Iron are yoga and Group Training (less boot camp, more strength training). More deets, you ask? 

The Deets:

Pink Iron

1106 N. La Cienega,
West Hollywood, CA. 90069
310-360-7465

http://www.pinkiron.com/

Takeaways: Free parking in garage off of La Cienega, towel service and yoga mats provided, not a place to scam on dudes, 800-1000 calories burned during Lean and Mean

Jun 21

My First Time: Cardio Barre

I have a healthy obsession with bar workouts. I went to my first Bar Method class in 2009, and haven’t looked back. It sounds super 50 Shades of Grey (though better written), but I get great pleasure out of the exquisite, lingering, self-inflicted pain that comes with a ballet-inspired workout. Love.

When I saw a Groupon/Living Social/whatever e-mail it was I read that day deal for 10 Cardio Barre classes for $40, I signed up immediately…and finally got around to redeeming it a month later.*

The plan is to meet up with a friend who had bought the same daily deal, but her boss works her too hard and she can’t get out for the 8PM class. I am on my own.

There are no advanced sign ups, so I arrive 30 minutes prior to the class, as recommended by the studio. I probably could have made it in if I got there 15 minutes prior, but they are known to sell out. While it’s nice to not have to plan this workout days in advance, I’m not crazy about spending 15-30 minutes of downtime waiting for an hour class. I hear this is even more of an issue amongst the actually-employed.

I am prepared to go through the same strength workout as Bar Method/Pop Physique, but this turns out to be much more old school aerobics, with a ballet strength twist. We start with some fast moving stretches and warm ups, including many ballet variations on calf raises and plie releve. All of the balance holds wake up my inner ballerina, who then proceeds to lose her balance and fall. The pace of the class stays fast throughout.

The instructor indicates that “bar thighs” are the hardest part of class. During this, we do a standard fold over at the bar with lifts and bends angled at different sides of the classroom. Just as it starts to really burn, the exercise is over. I want an extra minute during all of these exercises because I am a horrible sadist.

The arm workout is high in cardio, but I never get to a point where my form is quite there. The 8 counts quickly go down to 4 counts and 2 counts and singles, and I spend a good amount of time looking around figuring out if I am supposed to be doing tricep presses or shoulder extensions (we go back and forth between the two). This might get more effective the more classes one takes, but it really does move so fast that I don’t know how anyone can really focus too much on form.

We do a series of standing abs and twists that target the abs; I am semi-concerned I’m going to throw my back out the whole time. Perhaps this is paranoid, but speedy twisting of the torso just screams disaster to my ever-aging body.

The lying down floor workout gets a little Jane Fonda, but she still looks great so who am I to judge? We  lie down on towels and do a series of side lying leg lifts that I feel moderately in my hips and outer thighs, and pretty strongly when we adjust to target the inner thigh. The abs use old school bicycles, among other exercises, and it does the job.

The stretch to end the class is longer than in most classes, which is probably a great thing. Low impact or not, this is a class that contorts the body in ways that are out of the norm.

I’m sure I am missing a few exercises from the hour class - but I think that’s the point. Nothing truly hurt or challenged to the degree that I could remember it 12 hours later. What I missed from this class was the huge sense of “good lord I can’t believe I got through that” after the class, or even the most challenging exercises. My soreness factor is non-existent the next day, which I suppose is not always a bad thing when the primary focus is cardio. Granted, this is coming from someone who has been really piling on six days of running or exercise classes each week lately (only pause a moment to hate me for having the time to do this, then go back to pitying me for not having an income), and it’s also worth noting that this was a beginner class. This class is a great way to get back into exercise if there has been a personal lapse in fitness and the other classes seem too scary to start.

I will note that after discussing the class with a workout buddy who has attended a few sessions, it appears as though the beginner classes vary significantly in difficulty level. I must have inadvertently signed up for one of the easier classes. Not crazy about that lack of consistency, either, but I’m hopeful I can get more out of the rest of these classes by finding the “hard” teacher.

I’m also hoping I can find a teacher who doesn’t play the worst music I’ve ever sat through for an hour. We’re talking war criminal torture music. It grated on my nerves for a solid 80 percent of the class. I have a wide range of music I can tolerate, including pop, cheesy rock ballads, and even a corgi cover of Call Me Maybe. This music, though: my God. I think we heard every song that Mark Wahlberg ever participated in, except for in club remix form and at like 4X speed. Every song you forgot from the 90s, but that it’s ok that you forgot, ended up on that playlist. I can’t speak to how often they change that up, but there is a very real possibility I’ll be wearing an iPod for my remaining nine purchased classes.

The Deets:
Cardio Barre - Beverly Hills (multiple locations)
469 S. Robertson Blvd
Beverly Hills 90212
(424) 777-0032
www.cardiobarre.com

Takeaways: It’s more Cardio/less Barre, bring a (beach) towel, consider bringing headphones (only half kidding), arrive early for pre- and post-work classes, class difficulty varies, street parking.

*On that note, I have 30 pre-purchased classes for various fitness studios around LA that expire on dates ranging from September to December. I am on lockdown from purchasing classes until that number goes down to 10.


Jun 19

Funemployment: Pros and Cons of the Day

Every now and then I like to list a few pros and cons of Funemployment for myself, just to make sure I’m aware of it’s complete bliss/destruction.  There are some huge, obvious pros (pursuing dream career, option to work in a bathrobe), and some persistent cons (lack of salary…ok that’s all I’m coming up with). It will be the little things that really determine whether I should remain funemployed or try to get myself jobbed up.

Today’s little things:

Pros:

Can take a half hour to run in the middle of the day (time I spent on a coffee break during real employment), and go back to work in the “office” while still sweaty.

Can leave “office” for happy hour with out of town friend without feeling any sort of guilt or reason to give excuse, and will be happy to return to “office” to write later.

No one steals my Diet Cokes from the refrigerator.

I can toast my freshly made sandwiches in the oven. No need to wait for a delivery man!

Cons:

When I run out of Diet Coke, I can’t steal anyone else’s from the refrigerator.

…I just keep coming back to that lack of salary.

Jun 18

My First Time: Pop Physique

The pursuit of the perfect exercise class continues, as I meet up with two friends for a workout at Pop Physique’s new(ish) 3rd and Fairfax location. The only place I want to be is happy hour, and yet, on a street known for its happy hour specials, I am walking into an exercise class at 5:45 pm on a Friday. Credit the perfect butt in the Pop Physique ads for that guilt trip.

I am drawn to the font and colors on the website that are mirrored throughout the studio. Perhaps this seems like a silly reason to work out, but can you imagine going to a gym that used Comic Sans?

Thanks to whatever-daily-deals-site-it-was’s coupon, this will be my fourth Pop Physique class (we stretch the definition of “It’s My First Time” - I’m still a new-bie), and I bring along two of my workout buddy first timers with me.

Here’s where it gets interesting. I have the boyfriend in tow as we meet my two other workout gals. He is, in many ways, an unwilling participant, but I am, in many ways, a tyrant of a girlfriend. I really should have been a lawyer:

(30 minutes earlier)

“Where are you going?”

“Pop Physique. Want to come? I have a coupon.”

“Sure! Wait isn’t that mostly for girls?”

“No.”

“Have you ever seen a guy in a class?”

“…abstain?”

Boyfriend looks at website:

“I’m not going to your ballet class with you!”

“But you already said you would! And you can’t say one thing and then do another! And I’m sure guys go.”

“Ugh, fine what do I wear?”

“Do you have tights?”

(Back to present)

After listening to a bit more grumbling about the pink weights not being heavy enough, the class begins. The girls and I are in immediate stitches over the boyfriend’s attempts at graceful knee lifts to get the heart rate up.

Then the pain begins and there is no time or energy for laughter.

We begin with an intense, 10 minute arm workout. We do MANY repetitions with light weights, to the point that arms are shaking and 3 pounds feel like 50 (and yes, the weights did turn out to be heavy enough for the grumbling boyfriend, who switched from a 5 pound weight to a 4 pound weight midway. Huge victory.). We end the arms with pushups, reverse pushups and rotating one armed planks, which is not something my body will let me do after my arms have become so fatigued. The brief arm stretch does little to sooth the burn.

Just after a brief pre-burn leg stretch, we move on to thighs. I have always had sturdy thighs, and these sturdy thighs are shaking about 2 minutes into the 10 minute section. The instructor guides us through variations on squats and lunges that all incorporate isometric holds into the mix. We hold a small exercise ball between our thighs during one of these exercises; my inner thighs will continue to feel that days later. There are moments where I don’t think I’m doing it correctly and would have liked a bit more form correction, which happens only toward the very end of some poses. 

Following another brief stretch, we do a modified arabesque to work out the butt. The small movements are impossibly effective, and both sides of my seat are quivering at the end of this 10 minutes.

Seated round and flat back exercises are next. These take cues from Pilates; while keeping our cores completely still, we use small leg movements to work the transverse abdominals and lower abs. This quickly transitions to 10 minutes of incredibly intense abs (isometric holds to the extreme!), and then we are rewarded with some blissful stretch time.

I love exercise pain, and therefore I love Pop Physique. My muscles still felt it the next day, but not so much that I wasn’t able to go for a run (after just a bit of Ibuprofen). Even the “I’m way to strong for your girl class” boyfriend had to admit that the class was challenging. The poor studio acoustics and lack of instructor correction made the class a challenge to follow at times, but Pop Physique is the type of workout that becomes more effective over time, when your body recognizes the movements and can hold the poses without taking time to correct.

Here’s my only issue, and it stems mostly out of being a Bar Method loyalist: I find Pop Physique to be a so-similar-isn’t-it-copyrighted? workout to Bar Method. The only noticeable differences are the brighter colored weights, louder music, wood floors (prefer the Bar Method carpet!), and a slightly increased pace. The lack of form correction was also a large change from the Bar Method studios.

A huge workout class pet peeve of mine is when classes have special offers, but only for people who haven’t tried the class. A lot of classes lack coupon love for the loyalists - and Bar Method, unfortunately, falls into this category. I love Pop Physique because it basically is Bar Method - but with the important benefit that it still offers discounts to non-first timers. Exercise loyalty only goes so far during semi-employment.

The deets:

Pop Physique West 3rd and Fairfax (Multiple Locations)
7940 3rd Street
Los Angeles - 90048
323.552.3322

http://popphysique.com

The takeaways: Challenging even for the boys, a toning delight, ask for form correction if needed, stretch those inner thighs after, plan time for street parking on 3rd.

I don’t know what’s more depressing: this pillow, or the fact that Bed, Bath & Beyond sums up my life issues more eloquently than I ever could.
thiserikalife:

Don’t forget your 20% off coupon when you swing by Bed Bath & Beyond later to pick up The World’s Most Depressing Throw Pillow. (Taken with Instagram)

I don’t know what’s more depressing: this pillow, or the fact that Bed, Bath & Beyond sums up my life issues more eloquently than I ever could.

thiserikalife:

Don’t forget your 20% off coupon when you swing by Bed Bath & Beyond later to pick up The World’s Most Depressing Throw Pillow. (Taken with Instagram)

Jun 14

The Drinks Chicken Cycle

There is a tick that every pre-SVP in Hollywood has, brought on by asking for information or a favor. Whether on the phone or in an e-mail, somewhere in between the real reason for the e-mail/phone call and the signature/hanging up falls a line that goes something like this:

"And hey - it’s been way too long. We should get drinks!"

I have a theory that most people regret that statement shortly after it’s uttered, and yet can’t quite get themselves to not say it, or even to delete it in an e-mail. It’s like we feel bad about asking for information without rewarding the information holder by gracing them with our presence over post-work alcohol. I mean, when it’s put like that, shouldn’t we just get over ourselves?

Guess what? If you’re feeling more obliged than excited to participate in said drinks, the other person probably wants to go even less. AND they already had to do a favor or give you information. You’ve really put a damper in that person’s day, and have prompted a trajectory of excuses that can last up to several months:

Drinks chicken (AKA Let’s Do Lunch Avoidance AKA Networking Hooky).

I like (love) alcohol. I like (love) food. I like (just like) most people. Yet…there is something so abhorrent about obligatory work drinks.

That thing is called networking. 90% of people secretly hate networking, and the 10% of people who actually enjoy networking are the reason for that. Anyone who knows where you work within 3 minutes of a conversation, has deduced what they can gain from you professionally within 7 minutes of the conversation, and often forgets your last name within 10 minutes of the conversation is to be avoided.

Most people aren’t like that, but it’s that 10% chance that you’re going to end up talking about “how we can work together,” “real synergy,” and “building with each other,” for an hour and a half AFTER work is enough for most people to default to drinks chicken.

Here’s how to get the most out of works drinks. Start them with something really straight up (but also charming), such as “let’s expense this, not talk about work at all, and e-mail tomorrow about all the great ways we’re going to work together.” Then, I don’t know, ask them about themselves outside of work. If you’re with a 10 percent-er, they’ll probably still try to get to a commission by the end of drinks, but you tried your best. With everyone else, you can spend the drinks figuring out if this is someone worth be-work-friending, without listening to his company’s points of difference. The bonus of this is that you’ll probably get further professionally out of that one post e-mail than a strained and mooch-y networking convo.

Before you even get to that point, you should figure out if the initiator actually does want to get drinks with you, or if you can stay at home watching The Closer over a bottle of wine instead.

Here’s how any socially-adjusted individual frames an e-mail if he/she actually wants to meet up:

1.) “We should get drinks” is followed by information-gleaning questions that are needed to schedule the drinks.
Examples include: “Where is your office again?” “When are you free?” “Is there anywhere close to your office/apartment that sounds good?” “Do you get out in time for happy hour?”

2.) The above-listed questions are followed by information-filled statements that are also needed to schedule drinks.
Examples include: “My office is in Burbank, but let’s try to meet on the other side of the hill,” “I’m free Tuesday/Thursday of next week and most of the week after,” “I’m usually stuck at work until 8, but I think I can fake an apartment emergency to meet for happy hour on Thursday.”

3.) A group is summoned. 
Once a third person (and beyond) is summoned, it’s clear there is an interest in drinks.* It is considerably harder to cancel on more than one person without running the risk of turning one drinks into multiple drinks if the schedules don’t align for the make-up drinks.

Anything more vague than this warrants a “sounds good!” response. Drinks chicken averted.

*Exception to this rule - and this is only if the person is really good at drinks chicken - the third person is not someone you know at all, but is very closely tied to the person who invited them. That person, who has nothing to lose and typically does not have to be involved in a reschedule, is the opt-out agent that allows the inviter a guilt-free out of drinks. “Oh man, random friend has a (7PM) dentist appointment now - let’s reschedule for sometime when she’s free again.” Note the artful use of the word “sometime” and basing it around someone else’s schedule. Those drinks are never happening. Respect.

       

Jun 13

An exploded Diet Coke in the freezer lives at the intersection of impatient and easily distracted. It also lives in my freezer.

An exploded Diet Coke in the freezer lives at the intersection of impatient and easily distracted. It also lives in my freezer.

Jun 12

Funemployment Budget

     

File this one under first world problems, but there are some things I miss from the reckless spending days of full employment.

Eating dinner out:

…as if I’ve completely stopped.  I miss not putting a second thought into having dinner - wherever - with friends. This is the first thing to return when the regular income does.

Manicure/pedicures:

These used to happen every two weeks. My nails have been bare or poorly painted since March. While I think I’m the only one that actually notices this, I really do miss someone else dealing with my cuticles.

Online shopping:

It has been a weird adjustment not starting my day on Gilt Group or Shopbop. I miss the regular shipments of clothing showing up at the office, and feeling like I’ve saved money on a $400 dress because it used to be $600.


Expensive Exercise Classes:

I am slowly weaning myself off of expensive exercise classes; essentially draining from the bank of classes I purchased before Funemployment. I passionately love Bar Method, Pop Physique, Sweat Garage, Soul Cycle and so on, and very much miss the ability to spend $15-$25/class.

Wine Club Memberships:

I will admit - most of the wine memberships I have signed up for over the years have been under the influence of boozing on a wine tour, and the $50 bottles that arrived on my doorstep quarterly were of the quality I can find at Trader Joe’s for $20.  But there was something so wonderful about a surprise delivery from  Napa every couple of months.

And the things I don’t…

Even when the regular income returns, I’ll be fine staying fiscally responsible in the following areas:

Weekday Lunch Cocktails:

Not that these came THAT often, but there’d be a crappy work day here and there where the 1PM martini(s) was necessary. These were more frequent toward the end. That hasn’t been an expense I’ve needed to incur since working from home, which is psychologically reassuring.

Whole Foods Groceries:

The number of rush trips to Whole Foods on the way home from work to pick up dinner for that night really added up.  It was the closest grocery store on the way home, and the extra 2 miles to get to Ralph’s or Trader Joe’s was too much when it was 7:30 and I was starving.  Not only has Trader Joe’s installed itself a half a block closer than the Whole Foods recently (talk about destiny), but my pre-planned grocery shopping trips and coupons are saving me a bundle with no real sacrifice attached.

Take Out Lunch:

Take out lunch is never good. I think this is the case no matter where you live in the world. It’s generally ordered around 2:30, well after the lunch hunger has set in, and is ordered from a list of the same five restaurants because you’re too hungry/busy to look up something new that delivers to the office.  All five restaurants are fine on the first go around, but not good enough to be the weekly thing they’ve become. And somehow, fries are always involved. The calorie count is higher than the lunch you would have prepared if you had time, and with the restaurant-driven delivery fee (that doesn’t actually go to the delivery person), and then the tip to the delivery person (which better be good because you’ll be seeing them every week), it’s an expense that adds nothing to your quality of life (unless you like having a fat ass). I do not miss take out lunch, or the portion of my fat ass that has disappeared since i stopped ordering it.

Dry Cleaning:

I was a weekly regular at my dry cleaner. If they had a wall of head shots for their favorite non-famous customers, I just know I’d be up there. Without all of my “dress to be profesh” dry clean only numbers, I am very rarely at the dry cleaner these days. Perhaps this is an area where they miss me, but I’ve been doing just fine without them.

Jun 11

29 Pointless Items on a To Do List of 30

       

I’ve always been a to do list person. It’s visual, and there is such a strong sense of satisfaction each time something gets crossed off the list. While the kids these days are using iPhone apps to keep track, I just can’t get behind it. If I can’t draw a line (with a pen) through a to do item when it’s done, it’s like it never happened. Very tree in the forest.

In the employed days, these lists were epic. After all the additions that would happen throughout the day, it was rare that there were less remaining items at the end of the day than total items I started with at the beginning of the day. Some would consider this depressing. As a treadmill enthusiast, I guess I don’t mind lack of net progress as long as I’m killing myself for gross progress.*

You would think that the to do list would be shorter in my unemployed days. You would be wrong. Anything can be a to do list task if you broaden the definition of progress.

Every day, number one on the list is WRITE. It’s in capital letters, so it must be serious. Sometimes it’s followed with a specific writing assignment, but generally it’s just the task that can never really be crossed off. This is the only truly important career-ish thing on my list on most days.

From there, it goes drastically downhill. I easily fill an entire page with “to do” items that never would have made a previous list when I was fully employed. You know, the types that take longer to write and cross off than actually accomplish, or the blatantly low hanging fruit (think: write to do list).

Examples from today: “Fill out post-class survey for free Circuit Works class,” “Confirm date of hair appointment,” “Look up average temperatures in Ireland for July (AND CONVERT FROM CELSIUS!),” “Brine Chicken,” “Roast chicken” and, naturally, “Look up and record calories for roasted chicken.”  All of these tasks yield really intense accomplishments (especially CONVERT FROM CELSIUS!), but do they warrant entire lines on my serious to do list?  Debatable.

These lines fill my to do list less to feign productivity (I mean, who am I kidding?), and more to soften the terror of that one scary WRITE item. If I can accomplish all of the other tasks around it, maybe WRITE will just be another easy box to check after I brine the chicken. Without these lines, I have one thing to do, it might not go well, and there will be no immediate results.

While comforting, these lines can also be really dangerous. It’s so much easier to cross off the easy lines (my chicken is brining as we speak) than to tackle the one hard line. From there, it’s really easy to look at a to do list of 30 items with 29 of them crossed off, pat oneself on the back, and retire to the couch to watch Law & Order.**

It’s time to start dividing my list into “real things that need to happen” and “everything else,” with “everything else” reserved for the nights and weekends, just like during the employed days.

Minus the chicken brining.  That’s still a 9-5 task.  I’m not yet prepared to give up the juicy chicken prepared at a reasonable dinner hour that unemployment enables. I will hold on to that job(less) perk until the salaried days inevitably return.

*And there’s the problem.

**SVU, obvs.