Unemployment: From Career Girl to Temporary Housewife-Part 5-The Finale for Now

Pardon the bad photo joke, but I’ve been holding out on you for the better part of a week now.

There are perks to being unemployed, I just haven’t really told you about them yet.  Call me traditional, but I like to save the good stuff for last.

As bad or confusing or funny as unemployment can be, there are some things that I’ve enjoyed about it-beyond the whole sleeping in and wearing my pjs until noon bit-that part actually gets a little old after a few days.

I’ll try not to be as long-winded with this list:

Some Perks of Being Unemployed

1. Time to go grocery shopping…in the middle of the day.

Have you tried grocery shopping in China on a Saturday afternoon?  It’s like the Mall of America…on Black Friday.  It’s insane.

There are people screaming, there are vendors shouting into headache-inducing tinny microphones, there’s lots of spitting and pushing and the lines to check out wind nearly to the back of the store.

It’s a bit like a roller coaster: if you are below 4 feet tall or have heart problems, then this is so not the ride for you.

Luckily during the week, once you get past the old folks shopping hours (8-10am), things quiet down.  They start handing out samples. You can actually weigh your produce (a necessary step before purchase here).  You might even find everything you need in one trip!

We are already horrendous about eating at home, but if we had to brave the grocery stores and markets during peak hours everyday-I’m pretty sure our pots and pans would never see the light of day.

2. Time to Eat Right.  I’m not always good about this-I eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because its easy and quick and I’m usually in the middle of a writing binge right around lunch time.  Even so, those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are served on whole-wheat homemade bread, which makes me feel a lot better about the whole thing.

Since I’m home during the day, I have lots of discretion over what I have in the house to eat and I have a lot of time to make homemade food.  I’ve never been a big lunch person, but between the bread baking and the homemade granola bars, and having time to get to the market regularly for fresh fruits and veggies,

I manage to eat pretty healthily during the day. At night I might indulge in a bowl of greasy, spicy, delicious dan dan noodles, but at least this is China and so polishing off those noodles with a plate of super tasty green vegetables is never hard to do.

3. Time for New Hobbies and Projects

Being unemployed has given me a chance to do all sorts of things that I wouldn’t normally have to indulge in doing or learning how to do.

For instance, since we’ve been here I’ve learned how to knit, practiced my photog and editing skills, researched how to eventually build my own website for this blog, I’ve volunteer with cute kindergarteners in Guangji, started Mandarin lessons, and expanded my baking repertoire like woah.

Next up on my list of things to pursue in my unemployment: Sichuan cooking classes, a water coloring project, learning some more CSS and HTML, cheese-making and making croissants from scratch.

When walking by our soon-to-be-new-housing-digs last weekend, I couldn’t help but notice the bajillion and one hardware stalls nearby…and I’ve always wanted to learn how to build my own furniture.  I”ll keep you posted on how that one goes.  If you have any ideas for “Dani’s new hobbies” please let me know, the more the merrier.

Always trying to think of new things to learn and pursue keeps me feeling challenged while I’m unemployed and makes me feel like I’m somehow enriching myself with all of the free time I have right now.  I try to think of this as my time to become a truly well-rounded person, a renaissance woman if you will?

4. A chance to see another side of Chengdu.

There’s a lot I miss out on culturally by not working, but there’s also a lot that Chris misses out on not being out and about with me all day when I go to the market or see my tutor or just walk around and people-watch.

I get to see the kids and the grandparents and the people at the market and the street-cleaners braving life and limb on the streets of Chengdu.  If I was sitting in an office all day I wouldn’t see all of these people or have any clue how those segments of the Chengdu population spend their days.

5. Time to read…whatever I can find for free.

I don’t feel comfortable buying books since I’m not working but that doesn’t stop me from consuming as much of the written word as is humanly possible on the web.  Do you want to know anything about current events, the latest scientific discoveries, useless web trivia and the most fun new blogs?  Ask me, sadly, I probably know.

6. Time to be a (better) wife and partner.

It’s a lot easier to treat the people you love well when you are well-rested, not stressed, and  have time to really think about how much the people in your life mean to you.

So, though Chris bears the brunt of any bad days and deals with a lot of guilt over my being unemployed, there are perks to my unemployment for him too 🙂

When we were in DC, I tried to fit in little surprises and kind gestures for Chris where I could, but to be totally and brutally honest, being unemployed makes it so much easier.

While he’s getting ready in the morning I can get coffee and breakfast ready for him so that we both have time to sit down and eat together (and listen to some BBC radio) before he heads off to work.

During the day, I have time to pick up little snacks or fruits that he likes that he wouldn’t know where or have time to find himself.  I like finding little surprises and fun things to tell him about when he comes home at the end of the day.  Sometimes I walk over to the consulate to meet him after work so we can walk and talk rather than him having to make the commute alone.

At night, since I know I don’t have to work in the morning, I’m much more willing to stay up later to hang out.  Chris’ back usually hurts after a day on the line and, knowing I don’t have to get up in the morning and that Chris is working so hard, I’m happy to give long back rubs at night instead of the precursory few lumbar squeezes that I might have done before when I was working and too tired usually to make the effort.

Another perk?  Because I’m no longer flying out the door in a rush every morning, I also get to take a little more time to put together an honest-to-gosh outfit and put on a little bit of make up on occasion.  Though I know Chris is happy to see me in pajamas and glasses, I can’t help but think that my wardrobe efforts of late aren’t appreciated.

All of this might sound a little 1950’s housewife, but hell, my husband is adorable and sweet and fun to boot.  He deserves a little TLC as long as I have the time to give it to him.

7. Did I mention I sometimes wear yoga pants and glasses all day?

When it comes down to it, there is something to be said for being able to occasionally indulge in the most stereotypical of unemployment stereotypes.  You really have to live it up while you can.

Thank you so much y’all for sticking with me on this long, long, blog series.  It’s been a trip for me, and hopefully for you.  I’ve really enjoyed this writing process in  a way I didn’t realize I would and your feedback has made it all the more rewarding.  I’m not sure where to go from here, but I’m sure you will find out soon. After all, I’ve got lots of time on my hands at the moment to figure it out…

The Full Career-Girl to Temporary Housewife Shebang:

Part 1: An Introduction

Part 2: How I got here

Part 3: What Could Happen When You Become Unemployed (part 1)

Part 4: What Could Happen When You Become Unemployed (part 2)

Part 5: The Perks of Unemployment



9 thoughts on “Unemployment: From Career Girl to Temporary Housewife-Part 5-The Finale for Now

  1. Dani I enjoy your commentary on lifes new chapter, It is amazing how writing things down can be so illuminating. I also find I have to write everyday and I will get the book finished.

  2. As a fellow China expat (almost 3 years in Tianjin) I can empathize with this completely. I have worked part-time the last 2 years, but sometimes part-time seems like not-enough-time. It can be exhausting and boring at the same time to have too many coffee dates and lunches and ayi cleaning the house while you stare at the wall. I know that sounds pathetic, but I know you probably also understand. I do have 2 daughters, but they’re at school all day and it just gets… old. As far as horrible problems to have, it is a mild one, but I do miss being mentally stimulated on a daily basis. Have a great day!

  3. Hi Kimberly, thanks so much for your comment- It’s good to hear from other people going through the same things and I hope that things start looking up!
    If you are ever down in Chengdu, let me know. We might not have a wide array of employment opportunities but we do have a pretty killer French coffee shop 🙂

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