Monday, November 24, 2008

Six Months in Limbo

Six months in Limbo.

Limbo is according to Catholic theology a place between Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. Purgatory is sort of the prison of the afterlife for folks who are not quite good enough to be allowed into Heaven and not bad
enough to be damned. So souls are sent to be purged of evil and are
punished/tormented for a few centuries or millennia before moving on up to the Heaviside layer.

Limbo however was a place designed for people who did not quite fit into niches. There is a Limbo of the Patriarch and a Limbo of the
Infants. The Limbo of the Patriarchs is for folks who were good enough to get into Heaven or Purgatory but lived before the time of Christ, hence never heard the Good Word and so could not be Saved. However since they did not deserve damnation they were shunted off to Limbo. The Limbo of the Infants is the place where unbaptised babies go. These infants are tainted with Original Sin, which is washed away by Baptism and so cannot enter the
gates of Heaven but also do not deserve damnation. They await the Last Trump when all souls are either eternally saved or eternally damned.

When I was a child attending Parochial school I always thought that the two Limbos were the same place, so I had visions of acres and acres of squalling infants laying atop fluffy white clouds being taken care of
by the likes of Moses, Aristotle, Socrates and Buddha. In this regard Limbo was not that much different from Hell.

I feel like I am a Limbo myself, the Limbo of the Unemployed. Six months ago I was laid off from my job of 14 years. I was part of a major layoff and most of the people I worked with also lost their jobs as our entire division was eliminated with a few pen strokes.

Until a couple of years ago it was rare that I took my vacations in week increments using taking one or two days off at a time. Unlike
some of my co-workers I was not looking forward to being off for any length of time because I know that I operate best in a structured environment. Too much free time puts me off kilter and really interrupts my sleep patterns.

Generally I have insomnia and only get about three uninterrupted hours of sleep and then another two or three hours of catnaps. It is usually during the catnaps when I do my dreaming. I fall into deep REM states that give me vivid, if short dreams. The high REM state often makes me awaken with a headache. Lately however my insomnia has gotten worse.

After about a month of my unwanted vacation the dreams started. I dream about going to work. I dream about interacting with the various people I worked with over the last fourteen years. These dreams occur almost nightly and I wake up with a profound sense of loss, knowing that part of my life is irretrievably gone. These dreams add fuel to my night anxieties when I lay in bed trying to sleep but my mind races with anxious thoughts about not finding employment, about my state of finance, about my aged and ailing mother’s health, about my health now that I lack healthcare, about all the many things that most people worry about.

I never thought it would be true but I miss my job. Despite all the often unfulfilling years I put in at the daily grind, I miss being there. For a job is not just a job it becomes an intrinsic part of your life. It is what defines you, makes you feel like a useful citizen. What do you do? This is one of the first questions you are usually asked upon meeting someone.  When you say that you are unemployed, their eyes narrow and they look at you askance. You feel like a leper, like a bum even though you still pay your bills and your taxes just like anyone else.

The last time I was unemployed was in 1992 during the recession of Bush I who said “the economy is in a freefall”. Now that his son is leaving office we once again have equivalent unemployment numbers, a free fall economy and two ongoing wars to boot. Bush II has surpassed his father in terms of leaving the country in a shambles.

I had thought that the time away from work, short as I hoped it would be, would allow me to work on my writing. My plan was to work on my employment searches for four to five hours a day and work on my writing four to five hours a day. However as it turned out I haven’t had much of a chance to do much besides work around the house, work on the job search and take care of my mother. I haven’t been able to adhere to any schedule, which leaves me unfocused and feeling at odds. This lack of focus and disassociation is exacerbated by my lack of sleep, general anxiety and depression.

There are many projects I would like to do, writing projects, reading projects, projects around the house but I cannot find the time. Wait, that is not true. I have the time but not the drive. I feel lost and aimless.

My friend Mike Croteau has a blog in which he discusses the books he reads. He has a book in his bathroom, another in his bedroom, another that he reads in his living room and audio books he listens to in his car. I used to be like that. I used to have a book I read in the bathroom,one I read while I ate breakfast, one I read during my daily commute, one I read during lunch and another I read at night. Since I have been laid off I have read three books in their entirety. I have started dozens of other but I cannot focus on what I read. Part of the problem is my vision; I need new glasses but cannot afford them right now but most of the problem is due to my lack of concentration

I have a website upon which I have many finished pieces, some novel length or even longer. Yet since it was announced that we were being laid off I haven’t finished but one piece and have barely worked on anything at all. My lack of drive is depressing and adds to my general malaise.

I spend most of my leisure time just watching the idiot box my sensibilities dulled by reality programming and cooking shows. I have also been ‘catching up” on some old programs I have recorded. I’ve watched Dr. Who up to the middle of the Tom Baker years, I’ve watched most of Lost in Space, most of Space 1999, most of the Tomorrow people, part of The Prisoner, the first seasons of Maverick, High Chaparral,  Bat Masterson, Dark Skies. I have also watched several film serials, Zorro’s Fighting Legion, Zorro’s Black Whip, The Perils of Nyoka. I have started other serials but for some reason the black and white format induces me to fall asleep. I start watching something and wake up about an hour later to find I have missed quite a bit. So I try to watch it later. After several attempts at watching one serial I lose interest and move on to another.

So I am making an effort to do something, anything to lift myself out of the Limbo. I am making a vow to myself to blog something everyday. If I make it even twice a week, it will be an accomplishment.

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1 comment:

James Bojaciuk said...

I'll be praying for you to get a new--high paying--job. Good luck!

And your version of Limbo/Hell made me laugh for several minutes.