Well, it's been one month since I officially became part of a statistic reflecting the nation's dire economic status, and the only thing that worries me is that I'm not especially worried.
Oh, and I feel a little guilty about not feeling even the least bit depressed.
I can't say unemployment is similar to or different than what I expected, because I didn't really know what to expect after cash-strapped GateHouse Media laid me off from my column-writing gig on Jan. 15. I mean, I had been a working stiff since I was 15, so I had no experience with the situation.
One indisputable fact: There is significantly less money coming into the family coffers - yes, even with the trillion dollars or so of unemployment benefits I'm receiving.
(That's right, folks: What your president and other elected officials didn't tell you was that the entire stimulus package would be going to me. Thanks, everybody!)
Though I've had my people (that would be me) talk to a few management-type people about possibilities in journalism, I can't say at this point that I'm very optimistic about staying in the business. Like so many industries, ours is in financial distress. There are few decent jobs available, and those that are available draw precisely 9,144 applicants each.
So why am I not worried or panicked or depressed? Because I'm working hard at keeping things in perspective.
For one thing, my wife Roberta is a registered nurse who will have a good job with good benefits for as long as she wants. While it's difficult to support a family on an R.N.'s salary, it does provide a nice safety net. We have been renters for most of the last two years, meaning we aren't stuck in a home we can't afford and/or can't sell. I feel so bad for those who are trapped in real-estate hell. We will be making the last college payment for our daughter Katie in one month. My son Ben is 21 and mostly independent. And we are not extravagant folks; give Rob and me a couple of tall iced teas and an episode of 24, and we're pretty content.
In other words, financially, I am much better off than many in my shoes, and I am grateful.
Beyond that, I simply know things will work out. I don't even know exactly what that means, but I feel in my gut that it's true. Somewhere out there, my next calling awaits. I just have to figure out what it is and pursue it.
Getting all stressed and crazy won't help, so I refuse to let it happen.
Once again, I thank the many, many, many people - readers, journalism colleagues, family and friends - who have taken the time to write or call with kind thoughts and encouragement.
With so many folks pulling for me, feeling sorry for myself is not an option.