Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book Excerpt: From Chapter 3

As Seen on TV 
Post-layoff, the anxiety dreams got worse. I’d stay up later at night and sleep a little bit later in the morning, but I felt a compulsion to get up and apply for jobs like a mad woman. As an overachiever, I checked every site, networked like CBS—except I was hardly sleeping. This new sleep deficit coupled with my existing sleep deprivation made for quite a combination. Never was this more apparent than when I went to a taping of Chelsea Lately.

Not only does Los Angeles have amazing weather and lots of people working non-traditional jobs to hang out with during the day, but also there are free TV show tapings. Audience members are always in short supply. All you need to do is go to a show’s Web site, click through for tickets and submit your information. Some shows are booked for a few weeks but most are easy to get tickets for if you plan ahead.

At 1 p.m. on a Wednesday (woo hoo!), I headed to the studios where Chelsea Lately tapes. As a worker, I would have been hunkering down to get the rest of what I needed done so I could leave at a decent hour. The only way that I could’ve managed this would have been to take the day off and constantly check my voicemail and email. So, I already felt like I’d hit the jackpot.

Chelsea No Sleepy 
When I arrived at the studio, I checked in, got in line and hoped I’d make it in to see the taping. First, I failed to read the ticket and brought every banned item possible (large bag, food, umbrella) and got quite, well, terse with security. Then I fell asleep standing in line. Security must have thought I was on drugs or just batsh*t crazy. I explained that I was narcoleptic since I was too embarrassed to say that I’d been laid off (I hadn’t quite gotten through my Bargaining stage at this point).

Eventually, I scored an entry but one thing I didn’t know about show tapings: the studios are freezing (it helped keep me awake at least). And you don’t get a good view of the whole show, kind of like going to the theater but with huge cameras in the way. You also have to sit there for a long time before the show starts and clap constantly throughout the show.

I’ll never know if the security team warned the warm-up guy or not, but he definitely zeroed in on me. He asked me where I was from and after I said, “Hollywood,” he responded by saying, “No wonder you’re so jaded, tired and unhappy.” After a couple more, um, “shout-outs” during his set, I was even crankier than when I got in line.

Don’t get me wrong—watching the actual show was a ton of fun. You see people in real life that you watch on TV (Chelsea is much skinnier in person). I laughed the entire show and completely forgot that I was unemployed (and that I was mocked mercilessly by the warm-up stand up.). I felt special because I got to do something that most people don’t have the time to do. That’s when it hit me that this list had some merit: I could stop being sad sack unemployed Kerry and be the-world-is-my-oyster FUNemployed Kerry.

At the end of the show, I stood up and noticed that the warm up stand up was looking at me, horrified. I was wearing skinny jeans, flats, a blazer and an empire waist blouse. The way that my shirt was puckering out (and let’s face it, my carb baby stomach), I looked pregnant. I could see a wave of remorse on his face for torturing me. I thought about correcting him, but quickly changed my mind. I never said revenge wasn’t part of FUNemployment.

On my way out, the security guard with whom I interacted most stopped me and said, “I saw him point you out and pick on you. But you got a smile on your face now. Girl, go home and get some sleep.”
I got home close to 5 p.m. and promptly took a four-hour nap (as instructed by security). Yep, just because I could. I was extra tired from all of that clapping. When I woke up, I thought to myself, “Whoo! That was scary. I didn’t realize I was so tired.”

And then it dawned on me. Of course I’m tired. I’ve just been through a traumatic experience after months of torture. As important as it was that I look for a job and feel like I’m living, I needed to take care of myself. I learned the hard way that sleep is really important and made it my mission to never be that sleep deprived again. Especially because I’m pretty sure that my picture is on the wall of the E! security station with the caption “Banned,” “Confiscate food at your own risk” or “Crazy sleepwalking zombie.” Can’t get myself banned from anywhere else—and that includes potential employers.

Cost saving tip: If you’re having trouble sleeping, don’t get yourself hooked on costly Lunesta or Ambien. Go the more natural route with Melatonin. Trader Joe’s offers a great Melatonin product at a good price. In Los Angeles, it’s less than $5 for a bottle of 90 pills.

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