Woo Hoo!!! It’s another three-day holiday weekend! Now you may be a bit surprised that an unemployed person could get excited about a three-day holiday weekend. Just because I’m not getting paid for it and have no money to go anywhere, we who are among the unemployed (and there are currently millions of us) can still get excited about it like any normal employed person does, right? Right!!!
This afternoon I decided to high-tail it to the library to check out some books to help me unwind over the long holiday weekend. I checked out 37 (okay, maybe not that many) of the latest and greatest diet books to hit the shelves—I refuse to ever pay for another diet book again but that doesn’t stop me from continuing to seek a tried-and-true formula for losing 60 lbs in a week—plus, as an afterthought, I checked out Dave Barry’s latest offering “I’ll Mature When I’m Dead” (2010).
It’s the title that grabbed me. Many days (dare I say most?) I can so relate to it. Of course, anything that Dave Barry writes never fails to wildly entertain me with volumes of laughter. And, I can’t believe that Dave is in his early 60’s already (but then, I’ll be there soon enough myself). The only thing we have in common besides being baby boomers is that I actually lived in Miami for just under three years in the mid-1990’s, where he lives and writes a column for “The Miami Herald.” Now as a former Iowan, I did not fit in well in a city like Miami. And, the experience was light years away from anything I had experienced during my first year in Florida which I spent in Fort Lauderdale (1992-93). Being located close to each other is about all those two cities have in common. At least that was the case in 1992.
The first chapter I turned to in Dave’s book started on page 75, “Tips for Visiting Miami: No. 1: Are You Insane?” Now, Dave dearly loves his Miami and has lived there for years, but I have to tell you I practically rolled on the floor with laughter as I read it (not exactly a pretty sight considering those 60 lbs I want to lose in a week are still attached to my body). I could SO RELATE. I do remember that during those brief years that I lived in Miami that NOBODY wanted to come and visit me—for starters, Miami International Airport is located smack dab in the middle of one of the worst areas of Miami and for the unsuspecting traveler you don’t want to get lost navigating through those neighborhoods. But other than that (after all, many major big city airports are sometimes located in not-so-great areas of their respective cities) reading this chapter brought back many, well, interesting memories of my time in Miami.
Sometimes I feel like a cat with nine lives. My Florida years (and I’m still in Florida) comprise at least a couple of those lives—maybe three. Of course there was that year in Houston, and while I’ve been back in Florida for almost two years now from when I left there, my Houston experience was at least one of those nine “lives” all by itself and still reaches out to me two years later. I liked Houston. There’s some fabulous architecture there, and, of course, it has palm trees (a prerequisite for any city I live in after my many years in Florida). Sometimes in the night I think I can feel the city calling to me. Of course, that could just be acid-indigestion! And that is not to say that I haven’t loved living in Florida. I have! I remember my very first winter in Fort Lauderdale which totally convinced me that I never wanted to endure another winter “up north” again. But sometimes I feel like I still have “unfinished business” in Houston since my work experience and life there was so stunted and brief. I never really got to spread my wings in that city.
It’s an odd thing to go through this much time of unemployment and still not feel like I have any bearings. I have no idea what the future holds or where it might take me. I have no idea if I will stay in Florida or end up back in Houston or maybe spend time between both places. I like the idea of that, but that’s about all I know.
I try not to read into my feelings too much as I know that feelings can disappoint. I’ve been applying for jobs all over the United States so who knows where I will end up. (Well, God already knows. I sure wish He’d clue me in!) My phone stopped ringing months ago but I believe that is because I’ve now been unemployed for well over two years, and future employers don’t like to see that in an applicant. Indeed, I think it is a problem for most of the millions of us who have been unemployed for over two years. I think the long-term unemployed (since this massive unemployment problem all began a few years ago) are the most recent “disenfranchised” group in America, and it is a huge group and growing.
So anyway, I need this three-day holiday weekend to unwind just as much as any employed person does. I need to “get away” from the constant pressure of trying to find a job after such a long and fruitless search. I need to think about other things—fun things—if only for a few days. And while I know exactly what I need to do to lose 60 lbs without reading any of those books I checked out, I know that “getting off hold” in my daily life and having a purpose that makes me feel like a productive member of society again would end the frustration that keeps those 60 lbs on me, not that I’m trying to use that as an excuse. But for now I feel “stuck on hold.”
Sometimes I hate reading all of those “wait” verses in the Bible. I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life. I understand why it took the Israelites 40 years to make an 11-day journey. It’s about giving up self and learning about God on a relational level, and that takes a very, very, very long time, and there are a lot of bumps in the road along the way. And some don’t make it just like the original generation that entered the wilderness in the first place. They failed to understand that this life was not about them (or in our case, about us) but about God. However, the children who were born in the wilderness did go on into the Promised Land after the original generation had died (you can read the entire story in Exodus), and that is where my hope lays, too.
So, with all of that being said, I’m glad I picked up Dave Barry’s latest book at the library today. Laughter really is the best medicine, and I believe it’s one of the best gifts God has given us to relieve the stresses of our lives (along with prayer).
“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance….”
(Eccl. 3:1-4 NKJV)
I’ve spent many days over the past two years and four months weeping and mourning, but this weekend, I’m going to laugh, and maybe even dance…
And I hope you do, too.
Photo credit here