No, “2008” is not a mistake. I have been thinking about the state that I am in, as most unemployed people surely do. And it occurs to me that the reason I am so relatively carefree, to the point of being almost flippant about now being jobless, is that I never felt as if I’d “landed.”

The job I had until a week and a half ago was a “career”-type job, but I never lost sight of the fact that while everyone around me had insurance benefits, vacation days, and the reasonable assurance of keeping their jobs, I was a temp. They treated me well there, but I certainly never forgot that I wasn’t on an equal footing with everyone else. Prior to that, I was a temp somewhere else. And before that—this was May of 2008, now—I spent a month going from cocksure about finding a lucrative and decent job at any minute, to panicking over my bank statement and signing up with every temp agency that would have me. Just prior to that, I’d graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Master’s degree; I’d spent three years hiding behind those ivy-covered walls.

In a nutshell, I’m still in the mode of waiting for a decent job to turn up, now one year later. So as I’ve thought about it, it’s become sort of convenient, conceptually, to see this current phase of my life and career as still being the Summer of 2008. The difference, besides part of the “Summer” featuring heavy snowfall, is that I’ve lost a number of illusions about a job magically “turning up.” Part of why unemployment is downright appealing to me is that it’s become more important to me to reduce spending, and get by on less money, and have the opportunity to do less work and do more of the things I want to do, as well as to have a chance at making money through my writing. In that sense—i.e., not having illusions about a job rescuing me—maybe the summer is over, after all.

Anyway, thinking about the summer of 2008 got me thinking of a few songs that helped me through it. I really did not enjoy the temp assignment I had then: I took a bus at 7 a.m. every morning to get to work downtown by 8. It was a data entry job: actually, my job was to check the keying-in of a whole other team of data entry people. The people were nice enough, but I had little to say to them (other than a spirited Steelers-Philadelphia Eagles verbal sparring match). Basically it was one of the dullest jobs I’ve ever had. I’m eternally grateful to my parents for sending me an iPod. (I know how I probably sound now, but I do not care.) Anyway, I thought I’d post two songs that I often listened to on my way into work at about 7:54 a.m.

One is Islands’ “Where There’s a Will There’s a Whalebone”:

And the other is the Pogues’ “A Pair of Brown Eyes”: