: will it be like sleepaway camp? :

Have you seen the news? The national unemployment rate has fallen to 8.5 percent, the lowest level since 2009. My personal statistics, however, remain unchanged: I’m 100% unemployed. After this length of time, and with my unemployment benefits rapidly drawing to an end, I’ve begun planning for life in the homeless community.

The way I look at it, the transition will be easier and smoother if I plan ahead. It’s a bit like preparing for the first trip to a foreign land; I don’t speak the language or know the culture or have a guidebook. I fully expect to make the usual newbie mistakes, like packing the wrong things and smiling at the wrong people.

I know the dress code is casual, but how casual? Should I throw in summer clothes, too, even though it’s winter? What is the appropriate dress for a dumpster dive? What about pajamas and toiletries? It’s just so hard to know.

At least I won’t be a complete rookie; I’ve been to Girl Scout camp. For ten days and nights I battled the elements, like bad food and no TV, and I came out alive. Our tents weren’t air conditioned, we drank warm, tinny water from metal canteens, hiked hither and yon, rain or shine, and used latrines. I know harsh conditions, thanks to Camp Tapawingo. And I’ve been trained to survive them.

One morning a fellow camper showed up for breakfast with cuts and scratches and banged up knees. When I asked, she said she’d rolled out of her cot and down the hill in her sleep. I offered to perform first aid, but she declined. We Girl Scouts are tough like that.

Even so, I’d rather avoid the whole transition experience. On one hand, I’d get some great stories out of the experience and meet some interesting people. On the other, I’m a fan of privacy — I like having my own room and a private bath.

Why can’t we return to the days when you could build a cabin in the woods, like Thoreau in Walden, and live a quiet, contemplative life in harmony with nature? Whoa, wait, didn’t the Unabomber live like that? While he wrote the Manifesto? In Montana? You know, never mind.

Cot for one, near a window, please.

Copyright © Publikworks 2012

16 responses to “: will it be like sleepaway camp? :”

  1. Do you need a sign? I can make you a sign and what you do is, you hold it up and it says like, “Will work for food” or “Veteran” or a bible verse that I don’t know or something witty like, “Blow jobs for $50” (not really) and you stand at the entrance to a store and when people drive past you they feel sorry for you because they see you there every single day all day long and you always look clean and your hair never grows and you always have batteries in your walkman (yes walkman) so they throw spare change at you (so I’ve heard). Let me know.


    1. The local news outed a bunch of these scammers last month. They’d show up, hide their cars, and stand at busy intersections looking forlorn with their cardboard signs and make pretty good money. One construction company owner offered one of these geniuses a job and the guy turned him down. I bet business fell off after that.

      I may need your help with a sign. Don’t change your email address.


  2. I was a Campfire Girl. Do Girl Scouts talk to Campfire Girls? Gosh, I hope I didn’t just ruin our um – friendship.

    You got your sense of humor, though I realize that doesn’t pay the rent.

    Are you finding any contract work? Shoot – write a letter to the editor of your local paper every single day. Seriously, Lisa. Your wit is awesome. If you stalk them with entertaining letters, they may hire you as a columnist. It may not pay much – but it beats a cot with or without a window.

    Dooooo it. (I say encouragingly.)


    1. Good question, LD. I don’t know if Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls talk to each other, but friends do and we are that. At least I hope we are.

      I’ve been in touch with the newspaper. The city editor and I have exchanged emails on a couple of occasions, but no offers of work have materialized. I’ve even tried the weekly paper here and those in nearby towns. Nada. But stalking them with emails of my posts can’t hurt, right? Not until I get the restraining order, anyway.

      Thanks for the nudge, LD. If you get any other ideas, let me know. Please.


  3. I’m thinking become one of the cool silver robot dancers in New Orleans. One it is a warm city. Two what is cooler than a silver robot. Three all the Katrina survivors can give you all kinds of advice on how to get through wicked tough times.


    1. How do you do that, nevercontrary? What a perfect solution! And isn’t Mardi Gras coming up soon, I could maybe pick up some extra work in the festivities. Damn, I wish I’d kept up with the clarinet. It was great to hear from you, nevercontrary. Stop by again.


  4. I have camped exactly twice: it poured buckets of rain both times. So my first thoughts here are: tarps, umbrellas, rainboots. Make sure to get your resume’ laminated. :)

    Surely it won’t come to that: the right gig is surely around the corner.


    1. Great tip on the resume, home tome! I have a slicker on my list, but I’ll add a tarp and rainboots, too. You can never be too dry.

      I hope you’re right, something has to break loose pretty soon. I’m so glad you stopped by, come back again when you can stay longer.


  5. Oh my, I’ve been thinking like that lately myself. I think the cabin was Walden’s father’s though. I think. I don’t think he built it, and I’ve heard that he went home every day to eat and do his laundry.

    Being unemployed is hard. Not getting an interview is harder. You start thinking all those years of experience were just a waste. Some of them were, I know, but I’m ready to take a job as a cashier at the local CVS if they would only respond to my resume.


    1. Seriously? I heard Thoreau built his cabin beside a pond on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s property. And lived there for a couple of years. You’d think teachers would have their stories straight.

      I agree with you on unemployment — it bites. I think I’m ready to be a Wal-Mart Greeter or anything else. If they’ll hire me.


  6. Oh, Lisa! Don’t think like that! That is just crazy talk. You can definitely live in the woods without coming off like the Unibomber. After all, the Unibomber didn’t have a dog. Dogs make people seem less crazy ;)

    Why don’t you move to my neck of the woods? We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and you could buy a really nice house for $150K. Rent a great pad for $500. The living is easy. Oh, but you are required to like football :(


    1. Good enough, I’ll start packing the car, Angie. By the way, what football team am I going to be a fanatic about?


  7. I think you should look into the cabin in the woods, but pack a solar charger so you can keep entertaining me! c


  8. The national unemployment rate here in germany is at 5.5 %, that is super low for a country with an overdoze of social welfare benefits for just everybody (cept those who work and pay the taxes to pay those benefits). Don’t get me wrong now, I’m all for social welfare for people who really need help, everybody can get into a situation where help is needed, nobody should lose their home, but 80 % of those here in germany who live from social benefits (they get everything paid, like home, energy, car, food, coth, even TV and tataaa beer gets paid too) could acutally work, they just don’t want to (why should I work when I can get all for free). That makes me mad, especially when I think about you guys and the situation you have to deal with in the US.

    Lisa, I hope with all my heart that some kind of job miracle will pop up from somewhere for you and that everything will be ok. I’ll keep my fingers crossed!


    1. Thank you, Min, miracles do happen. I’m hoping for one of them myself. But, to tell you the truth, I’d just like to get this whole business settled one way or the other.


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