Friday, May 29, 2009

The Unexpected Joys of Unemployment

Not working certainly has its drawbacks; most obvious is the lack of steady sufficient income (though unemployment has actually given me a 20% raise from the last time). You also are faced with periods of loneliness, boredom and frustration, even occasional depression. Aside from that--and while doing what you can to abbrieviate it--unemployment is to be enjoyed not rued.

I don't mean this simply because you can often sleep late, not shave, not dress and pretty much do things at your own pace. Nor is it simply a matter of being able to watch movies (and thus justify my DVD collection; this week alone I watched The Usual Suspects, The Big Sleep and In the Name of the Father); take in an afternoon ballgame (I haven't yet been out to Wrigley but did enjoy watching the Champions League soccer final on Wednesday) or do some reading (I'm almost done with Vikram Seth's "An Equal Music").

No, what unemployment truly offers over regular same time, same place employment is the heightened opportunity for unexpected surprises.

For instance, yesterday I went downtown to meet with a creative staffing firm; it seemed to go pretty well and hopefully they can get me some projects. But as I was walking there, I came across an Art For Obama exhibit at 72 E. Randolph (where HotTix is, across from the Cultural Center). And if checking that out wasn't cool enough, there was a "that day only" Gallery Talk by Scott Thomas, a guy I hadn't heard of before but who was the Design Director for the Obama campaign. Except for the horizon logo, which was created prior to his involvement, Scott either designed or oversaw every piece of artwork the campaign put out, from posters to banners to podium placards and more. He even designed the much lauded Obama website.

I actually missed most of his talk, but caught the tail end and wound up speaking with him for a while. Rather than a graying industry veteran or even a pretentious hot shot, he just was a down to earth guy who earned his responsibility by being good at what he does. He said he's in the midst of writing a book called Designing Obama with hopes for a summer release. Though there's not a lot there at present, check out his website and if you have a couple hours to kill--sorry for those of you with jobs--you might enjoy this talk he did at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis along with the logo designer.

After my appointment, I went to the Art Institute to see the new Modern Wing. The building was beautiful, but as is often the case in contemporary art museums (the Walker, Guggenheim Bilbao, MOCA-Chicago), the art within wasn't nearly as cool as the building itself.

Anyway, if you have a job, be happy and grateful. But if you don't, do likewise.

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