Misadventures of an Unemployed Economist

In December, I graduated from college.  Finally.

I had quit school a long time ago when I decided, late in the game during the first run-through, that I just didn't want to be a Chemistry major anymore and frankly couldn't stand another minute reading, talking, thinking or even looking at anything remotely related to Chemistry.  In the end, it was a swift and succinct end to a love affair that began in my early teens.

Some people had high school sweethearts.  I had science.

So, off I toddled into the big, bad world of the labor force for many happily paid years.  When anyone would ask if I ever wanted to finish my degree, I would just cheerfully inform them that I absolutely intended to when I figured out what my major should be.  Nothing had ever entertained, interested, or challenged me as much as Chemistry had for the years I spent studying it.  I had been a willing captive to its fascinations.  I learned it.  I tutored it.  I loved it.  And look how that turned out.

We didn't even keep in touch.

So, I waited.  And waited.  I read both fiction and non-fiction voraciously.  I developed an avid passion for documentaries.  I listened to NPR.

I went to culinary school.

Really, that's when it happened. I just didn't realize it.  At first, I thought I would go to a school in the States (I went to a school in Canada, so I now refer to all U.S. schools as being in "The States"), and they mainly tend to be Associates degree programs.  Well, oddly, I didn't have an Associates degree.  I just had a shit ton of college credits.  And even more oddly, I didn't have quite a bit of the general education courses needed for an Associates degree.  So, off I went to my local college to grab some of my missing courses.

Like Intro to Microeconomics.

And that was really IT.  It just took me several years to get around to admitting my love and then acting on it.  Which I did this past year.  And now that I have, it seems I have exited the happily paid labor force that I enjoyed for all those years as a non-graduate.


Now, I know this is temporary.  Also, I know it would be easier if I just went back for the type of work I've been doing in the past rather than trying to move forward.  But I've always kind of lived by the idea that "you can never go back".  So forward it is.  And in the meantime, I am exploring the depths and breadths of what labor economists refer to as "household production".


Yes.  It is what you think it is.  I handle all the house shit while Tomas heads off to the office every day to be the breadwinner.

Just. Like. 1952.

Don't get me wrong, I applaud all household producers.  I do.  It's just not for me.  In fact, I absolutely suck at it.  For one thing, it takes a stick of dynamite and a fire drill to even get me to leave my building.  Really.  I get this hermit thing going on that is just inexplicable.  So, errands are a challenge.  I can't begin to tell you what I have discovered can be ordered and delivered all through Internet shopping.

With an Ebate.

I would worry that I'm agoraphobic but I will leave the house on weekends.  I save up all necessary-leave-the-house errands for the weekend so Tomas and I can go together.

For some reason, this irritates him.

So this week I decided I would try to be a better Household Production Coordinator.  I've now officially titled myself.  I'm thinking about going ahead and updating my LinkedIn profile just so it still doesn't read with my old job.  The one I haven't done since, well, last year.

But, I digress.  Yes, I decided to be a better Household Production Coordinator.  Otherwise, how would I ever become a Household Production Specialist?  Or Director of Household Production?  Maybe even Chief of Household Production (after I get my Masters degree, of course)?

Now, this all has to be planned and harmonized around my search for employment.  I want to qualify that because otherwise it might seem like I don't get a whole lot done.


I knew I wasn't really succeeding this week when Tomas came home from a long day at his highly successful and well-paid corporate career to quickly come out of the restroom with an alarmed expression.  "What IS this?" He held out a stick dangling a waterlogged animal pelt.

I cleared my throat.  "It's our feather duster.  It was dirty so I researched how to clean it online since it's ostrich and I learned to just shampoo it.  I'm letting it air dry a little, but I just have to blow-dry it back to fullness now."


"Honey, I know this is a transitional period for you.  You're figuring out the best way to leverage your years of experience in the healthcare industry to maximize your opportunities but also capitalize on your recent education."

I held myself very still so my spleen didn't rupture from the tremendous pressure of holding in my laughter.  That corporate lingo slays me.

He's so earnest.  He went on.

"But you need to get out of the house."

Okay! Fine!  I'll leave!

So, that is what I did.  And because I am the overachiever that I am, I went ape shit and decided to go to....

Drum roll, please...

The Walmart.

Now, this is a Big Damn Deal for me.  I never go to the Walmart.  Okay, I rarely, rarely go to the Walmart.  I've had successful boycotts that have lasted for years at a time of the Walmart.  I hate the Walmart.  I refer to it as The Big Brown Devil.  Well, that and "the" Walmart.  That just makes me laugh inside.

It's not that I'm snotty about it.  It's just that the Walmart overstimulates me.  And I'm against their practices.  I'm not going into that because then I'll go all Norma Rae and raise a UNION sign for their workers or something.  But seriously, they cost us all a lot of money while they're "saving" us money.  Seriously.  It's the big rip-off.

But, I figured I'm a freeloader right now and I'm trying to be a better Household Production Coordinator (I'd like a raise), so I would go to the Walmart.  I made a nice grocery list for the meals I planned for this week.  I set off with my heavy-duty fabric Target bags so I didn't have to take 50 of those little plastic bags.  I was ready.

Two hours later I realized there was no cheese island.  I did finally find the section where they sold Brie but only in those little individually wrapped wedges.  I've always wondered who they market those little individually wrapped little wedges and wheels of cheese to and I realize that they are for Challenged Household Production Coordinators who don't know their way around Walmart and wander, starving and lost, like a Jew in the desert.

Nor was there any escarole.  Or prosciutto.  In fact, while I was checking, I happened to get trapped in some freakish time warp event where a large population of shoppers suddenly descended on the produce section.  Surrounding me.  Now, if you ever shop at the Walmart, I'm thinking you probably know that there is only ONE of those little bag dispensers for the entire produce department for people to put their Italian flat-leaf parsley in when they've chosen the most abundant and fresh bouquet.  I know that all of the Walmarts are the same (consistency is important) and they all just have this ONE dispenser model.  I happened to be standing near that ONE dispenser when the freakish time warp event occurred, solemnly searching out my list's produce items in the most inefficient, ineffective method since I had no damn idea where anything was.

Plus, I'm an organic enthusiast.  I am a foodie.  I love local.  I love organic. I love sustainable, eco-holy healthy crap.  I mean, let's remember my other blogs--I have JUICE FASTED.

Okay, I admit it!  I would know my way around Whole Foods!  Jesus.

My point here is that I was dithering about looking for my items and I was clearly in everyone's way. And the mob that had descended around me DID seem to know where everything was and I was the only thing preventing them from getting it.  I could feel a glare, then a stare.  I adjusted my cart.  I moved it all the way to an end cap side space.  I felt the nudge of a shopper against my hip.

I was starting to see that this was not going to be a peaceful experience.  I wondered what the hurry was.  Did they get a text that their house was on fire?  Were their infant children outside locked in their cars? Were they on their breaks from work and shopping on the clock?  Was I somehow mixed up in a game show where the contestants had to speed shop?  If so, didn't they know they should be buying diapers, not ginger root?

I like to be present. In the moment.  We should shop like we're in a French market, oui? Take our time, honor the food, the market and the vendors.  Whole Foods lets me be present and in the moment.  They have little areas for me to sit down and have a tea.  Maybe a snack.  Shit, someone will make me a pizza if I want.

I can get a glass of wine, for God's sake.

But no, the Walmart drives you to drink but doesn't offer anything.  I'm starting to think it's some sort of endurance test.  I finally resign myself to my fate, push my way back to the produce cooler, and grab my elusive bag of organic scallions.

I'm so ready to go.  I've paced back and forth so many times down the grocery aisles that I am pretty sure I can cross off any need to visit the gym. I haven't even left the grocery section.  No way in hell am I getting anything else in this goddamn store.  Uh-uh.  NO.  On my way to the checkout, I spot the elusive prosciutto.  There it was! Right next to the fake Brie section!  How did I miss it?

I swing over and pick up a package.  As I'm about to slip it into my overburdened cart, I see "Made in America".
No.  Now, I love my country.  I support my country.  One of the things I hate about the Walmart is that they sucked everyone in years ago with their "Made in America" campaign and later (after all the small businesses closed), nothing in Walmart was made in America.  So, now they choose to pick up the banner again?  WITH PROSCIUTTO?  No.  Dammit, no.  I put it back in the cooler.  I want my prosciutto pig to be Italian.  (Or that Iowa farm that does it really, really well. That's okay).

As I'm leaving the parking lot, it occurs to me that I'm driving a bit fast.  Like about 30 miles over the speed limit.  I'm actually surprised flames weren't shooting out of the back of my car, I was so damned determined to get the HELL OUT OF THERE.  I guess I was frantic now too.

I know one thing.  If I'm ever going to make it to Household Production Specialist, I know I'm going to have to get better at the Walmart.

I'm also going to need a purse full of those little Brie wedges.  And a hip flask.

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