Fear of Freedom

I’ve been officially unemployed for the better part of three weeks now, and I occasionally wrestle with crippling bouts of complete panic and fear. It isn’t a result of the usual worries—the “how am I going to pay my bills?” issue. Instead it is triggered by the complete sense of freedom I am encountering.

I held my last full-time job for nearly seven years, and before that I bounced from one job to the next as quickly as I could, because finances necessitated I work steadily. For the first time in my adult life, I find myself in a situation wherein there is no urgent need to go rushing into the next job as quickly as I can. We’re on relatively stable footing, the unemployment checks should make the ends meet, and I’m rummaging a little work here and there that I can’t tell you about, lest you go tattling to the EDD. (That’s a little joke there that anyone who has tried to make contact with the EDD in recent history will understand.)

And so I find myself with time to make my own schedule, to think, and to breathe. But it turns out I am a well-trained proletariat. I can’t sit still; I can’t not be working. When I am at home I am punching holes into the shop or organizing the garage. I approach my writing like a job, sitting down first thing in the morning to write at least a thousand words before I move on to anything else. I need structure, I need a schedule, and when I don’t have it I freak out. The overwhelming possibility of a life without a schedule causes my brain to explode. I can’t handle it for more than five or ten minutes before I am organizing the junk drawer or knocking together particle board cabinets. I think I need a job so I can relax.

I really hope it’s not too late for me. I’m in my early forties, and I would truly like to adjust to having self-determination. I don’t know if I can. I don’t feel like I’ve caught a deep breath in decades. I could end up just living this ordinary workaday life, accomplishing nothing of merit, leaving behind only an ever-accumulating pile of receipts. That’s also terrifying. Sometimes I don’t know where to put the next foot.

Country Music is Terrible

Anyway, I tuned in to the Country Music Awards last night, and seriously thought The Onion was running some kind of musical spoof. The state of contemporary country music is abysmal. The genre currently has about as much soul as the boy bands from the late ‘80s. The acts were all over-choreographed and bloated; the stars were better looking than they were talented, with fake tans, straight white teeth, and blow-dried hair. I like Miranda Lambert and, well, I like Miranda Lambert. The rest of the genre needs to embrace the twang, or maybe just admit that contemporary country music is nothing but bubblegum pop with some steel guitar laid over the top.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.