Sunday was the worst day of the week because the want ads came out that day. Battling crippling depression, I would agonize over those dreaded paragraphs with a red magic marker, trying to find something, anything, I could do as work to bring in a few bucks, fill some time or help with my own self-loathing. Without a high school diploma, work history or confidence, reading the qualifications for clerk at a 7-11 store made it seem like they were requesting decades of previous experience as a neuropsychopharmacologist.
Monday was the worst day of the week, because that was the day I had to call and make job interviews. Talk to a real person, even if it was over the phone. Sometimes my fingers just couldn’t dial the numbers right, or at all. No matter how hard I’d try, they’d hit the wrong buttons. My goal would be to set up 10 interviews for the week, but I’d be satisfied with five. And maybe did two.
Tuesday was the worst day of the week, because I would try to get to two or three interviews that day, battling the directions, having to leave an hour early to find my way through the maze of the city and my problems with concentration. Sometimes I got lost in my own neighborhood; many times I just couldn’t even start the car. I’d sit and listen to the radio, to just one more song, and think “then I’ll go.” The interview sites were like the proverbial post office in Brooklyn: you can’t get there from here. When I miraculously did find the spot, I’d sit there drenched in sweat, an aching lump in my throat, physically fighting through the job application, trying to do “creative accounting” to minimize the gaping holes in my work history. Special achievements, honors, awards—in my dreams. And the interview itself? A police interrogation would have been less stressful. Even if I was able to somehow “snow” them into thinking that I’d be OK for the job, I’d take pity on the interviewer and help them out: “Listen, trust me, I’m really not what you’re looking for.”
Wednesday was hard, and I’d be so exhausted I couldn’t leave the house—but it was a better day, because I could use the juicy excuse that I’d “tried.”
Thursday was even better because the week was ending.
Friday was the best day of the week because nobody hires on Friday.
Saturday started well because it was the weekend. But as the hours went by, I knew that the Sunday paper and its dreaded want ads were going to hit the newsstands soon—and it would start all over again.
When time is like this, the TV Guide was my best friend. I poured over the TV Guide, mapping out wonderful shows to watch with my red magic marker—important, meaningful shows I could not miss. With the edited descriptions of the shows, you had to be a code cracker to find the good ones:
Masterpiece Theater: ‘I, Claudius.’ Intrigue in Ancient Rome.
Three’s Company: Chrissy changes the kitty litter.
Gomer Pyle, USMC: Gomer falls down.
These shows were important to me. They filled my time, took my mind away from my problems. Took my mind away. When Gomer Pyle has this much importance to you, you don’t have problems, you have trouble.
It took some doing, but I lived through those dark days. I’m trying to be tender to the person I was back then, and giving myself credit for just staying alive. Surviving has given me the chance to discover skills and abilities in the arts, writing, speaking. Talents I never imagined having—that were actually strengthened by my hard times—helping me to find my own niche, working for myself and with others that have experienced similar pains. There still continue to be “worst days” of loneliness, self-doubt and “Three’s Company” reruns, but now there are also important and fun things to fill the time and others there to share the pain, others that need me to share their pain, too. And more and more, today seems to be the Best Day Of The Week.